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Melbourne Museum Mini Mega Model Museum
Photograph: Museums Victoria/Supplied

Things to do in Melbourne in July

July's best events in one place – it's your social emergency saviour for fun things to do in Melbourne in July

By Cassidy Knowlton, Nicola Dowse and Rebecca Russo

Wondering what to do in Melbourne in July? We can help. Check out our curated guide to all the fun things to do in Melbourne. Many performances, museums and venues have been closed and cancelled right so this list is a reflection of events happening around Melbourne, but also things to do at home and events that have moved online.

Here is a list of everything that is open right now in Victoria and here are Melbourne's current physical distancing rules explained


The best things to do in July

High Cheese Westin Hotel
Photograph: Supplied/Westin

1. High Cheese

Things to do Food and drink The Westin Melbourne, Melbourne

What’s better than gorging yourself on scones, finger sandwiches and Champagne at a regular high tea? Gorging yourself on piles and piles of cheese at the Westin’s un-brie-lievable High Cheese event. Yes, the insanely successful, sold-out event is back for 2020. The idea for High Cheese began when Westin executive chef Michael Greenlaw teamed up with Anthony Demia from Maker and Monger to bring a series of cheeses together in both sweet and savoury dishes. High Cheese brings some favourites from last year's menu plus a few new additions to the table. Dig into a thyme and garlic stuffed baked Le Conquerant Camembert with crusty sourdough; Roquefort and cognac dip with poached muscatels and spiced house-made crackers; plus L'Artisan Grand Fleuri-layered brie with black truffle and crème fraiche.  For the sweeter side, there's a classic Basque cheesecake, beurre noisette madeleines and Yarra Valley Dairy curd Fontainebleau with Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz gin and preserved cherries. Phwoar!  The Westin's High Cheese is priced at $70 per person and is available every day from 11am until 8pm. That price includes free-flowing coffee, tea and hot chocolate but you can also grab a glass of wine or Champagne which is priced by the glass. Also, because the Westin realises it's a strange time to be leaving your house right now, for the first time ever, you can have this experience at home. A new takeaway option is available for $189 and it includes a High Cheese at Home hamper stuffed w

Lyon Housemuseum
Photograph: John Gollings/Supplied

2. Open House Melbourne

Things to do Walks and tours Your Place, Melbourne

Open House Melbourne – held in July every year – is much more than the chance to stickybeak at some of Melbourne's most fascinating buildings (although that's a pretty huge drawcard, to be honest). It's also an opportunity to reflect on the role that design has played in the evolution of our city, to glimpse what Melbourne may become in the future, and to consider the significance of our heritage and what we can do to protect it. But this year the weekend is going to look very different, with an entirely digital program to give you a glimpse behind the scenes at some of Melbourne's most impressive buildings. There will be virtual building tours of places like Trades Hall, Collingwood Yards, Parliament House, the Melbourne School of Design's Glyn Davis Building, FAB9 Makerspace, Lyon Housemuseum and the Citylink Traffic Control Room among several others.   But it's not all about stickybeaking this year. Open House will also include livestreamed talks and presentations, where heritage and architecture experts will talk about design, the urban environment and Victoria's rich architectural history.  The full digital program will be revealed soon. Here's hoping we can return to IRL visits to some of Melbourne's off-limits area in 2021. 

Two doll heads on a yellow backdrop with a wooden boomerang in front of them
Photograph: Supplied © Destiny Deacon

3. Destiny Deacon: Destiny

Art Photography The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 15 years since Destiny Deacon has had a solo exhibition. The Torres Strait Islander artist’s work offers a darkly funny and frequently poignant look at contemporary Australian life. Deacon is best known for her photography, but there’ll be more than 100 multidisciplinary works on show, including video, sculpture and installation, drawn from 30 years of work. You'll be able to see some of Deacon's earliest video works (created in partnership with the late Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi photographer Michael Riley) as well new commissions created in collaboration with long-time collaborator and fellow artist Virginia Fraser (who worked with Deacon on the renowned 2005 installation 'Colourblinded'). Deacon was born in Queensland and studied politics and education before turning to photography (as a way to express herself and her beliefs) in her 30s. Her last solo exhibition –Destiny Deacon: Walk and don't Look blak – was in 2004 at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art (it went on to tour Australia, Japan, New Calendonia and New Zealand). 

An aerial photograph of Flemington Racecourse
Photograph: Supplied / the Untitled Group

4. The Drive-In

Music Music festivals

With mass gatherings off the table for some time yet, our live performance industry is coming up with some pretty innovative ways to keep the good times going. The Untitled Group (the team behind festivals like Beyond the Valley, Grapevine Gathering and Ability Fest) is transforming Flemington Racecourse into a massive live venue and launching a series of concert-quality gigs called the Drive-In. As the name suggests, the Drive-In will host live events that you can enjoy from the comfort and physically distanced bubble of your vehicle. The program features 12 large-scale concerts, plus a movie and comedy night program. The line-up is as follows: Fri Jul 10: Client Liason, Owl EyesSat Jul 11: Alex Lahey, Alice SkyeSun Jul 12: Winston Surfshirt, MwanjeThu Jul 16: Boo Seeka, Creature FearFri Jul 17: Running Touch, Set MoSat Jul 18: Lime Cordiale, MicraFri Jul 24: Ball Park Music, Big WordsSat Jul 25: Northeast Party House, London TopazSun Jul 26: Baker Boy, Close Counters The Drive-In will be the first large scale entertainment precinct since shutdowns came into effect in mid March and at least a month of gigs have already been locked in. There will be a raised stage with huge screens and the entire site has been designed so that it is accessible for everyone. The Drive-In will additionally allocate tickets to the Dylan Alcott Foundation, who will distribute them to music fans living with a disability.  Sign up for presale tickets on the website. Presale tickets go on sale Thurs

AVC igloos
Photograph: Supplied

5. The Igloo Garden

Things to do Pop-up locations Multiple venues

Melbourne is one of Australia’s cooler cities (in more ways than one), but it’s still pretty rare to find igloos within the city limits. That’s changing this winter, though, with the Auburn Hotel (Hawthorn), the Wharf Hotel (Docklands) and the Station Hotel (Footscray) transforming into frosty winter wonderlands. Through all of winter, these pubs will feature toasty, private igloos that can house two to four people, offering three-course meals with a beverage priced between $46-$69. Additional drinks can be purchased during your seatings through the Mr Yum app.  Every igloo will be reset and completely sanitised between bookings with 30 minutes allotted for cleaning. Bookings for each igloo is essential and can be made through the links provided above. 

Japanese Modernism
Photograph: Supplied/NGV

6. Japanese Modernism

Art NGV International, Southbank

The early 20th century was a time of great cultural and social prosperity for Japan. Between the 1923 Kanto earthquake and the outbreak of World War II, emerging movements from Europe began to influence the island nation’s artists, resulting in the creation of Japanese Modernism. The NGV has brought more than 190 of these works to Melbourne for Japanese Modernism, a multidisciplinary exhibition spanning printmaking to fashion. The NGV has spent the last five years collecting works for Japanese Modernism, with all works featured being exhibited for the first time in Australia. Japanese Modernism showcases rare paintings and woodblock prints as well as magazine covers, street posters, kimonos and accessories in Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs. Bronzeware, lacquerware and glassware are also featured and highlights how these contemporary art movements worked with centuries-old Japanese designs. Women in early 20th century Japan began to experience new freedoms, with many moving to metropolitan centres, finding work and gaining the opportunity for financial independence. In that light, the NGV has acquired works that celebrate the art of Japanese women artists.  One of the most promising women artists of the period was Taniguchi Fumie, whose large-scale, six-fold screen work ‘Yosoou Hitobito’ (‘Women Preparing for a Party’) w

Adam Hills
Photograph: Supplied / TS Publicity

7. Easey Comedy

Comedy Your Place, Melbourne

When things are bad (*cough* 2020 *cough*) sometimes all you can do is laugh. That will certainly be easier thanks to the news that Adam Hills is hosting a new digital comedy night. Every Thursday nights from June 25, Hills is hosting Easey Comedy – a Zoom comedy night featuring some of Australia’s most rib-splitting comedians. Line-ups will be different every week, but we can confirm at-home audiences will be able to enjoy jokes from the likes of Dilruk Jayasinha, Cal Wilson, Nath Valvo, Tom Ballard, Michelle Brasier and Jude Perl in the first week alone.  Easey Comedy tickets start at $15 for solo watchers, $25 for households (up to four people) or $35 for comedy parties (five or more people). Keep in mind that Victorians can currently only have five guests at home according to new rules.

Dingo encounters
Photograph: Cass Knowlton

8. Dingo Puppy Encounters

Things to do Dingo Discovery Sanctuary, Research and Education Centre, Melbourne

Every weekend from early July until mid-September, the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre is offering visitors the chance to cuddle, pat, feed, play and take photos with their adorable dingo cubs and friendly dingo adults. Every Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 2pm, guests will have the chance to spend some quality time with these little fuzz-balls, and also learn about what makes the dingos so special from the sanctuary’s team of keepers. There will be strict social distancing in place. Tickets are $52 for adults and $38 for children. Children must be seven or older, and seven to 12-year-olds must be accompanied by a paying adult. You will have to wear long pants and sturdy shoes because you will be outside and there will be mud. 

Photograph of a woman artistically fanning a red dress on a flat beach under a almost cloudless sky
Photograph: © Dana Scruggs

9. The New Black Vanguard

Art Photography Bunjil Place Library, Narre Warren

In 2018, Tyler Mitchell became the first African-American photographer to shoot the cover of US Vogue, when his image of Beyoncé became the face of the magazine’s September edition. Mitchell is one of 15 emerging and established black photographers featured in The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion, which comes to Bunjil Place Gallery as part of the Photo 2020 International Festival of Photography. With photographers hailing from London to Lagos, the exhibition challenges the idea of blackness as homogenous, and explores ideas around beauty, race and gender. Accompanying it will be Luke Willis Thompson’s video work autoportrait 2017, a silent portrait of Diamond Phillips, who made headlines in 2016 when she live-streamed the fatal shooting of her boyfriend by a Minnesotan police officer. Bunjil Place will reopen on Wednesday, July 1. It is still free to view The New Black Vanguard, but you must book tickets in advance. Until then, you can enjoy The New Black Vanguard through a virtual tour. You can explore the tour at your own pace, select highlights or get a quick overview of the exhibition by watching this short video walkthrough. The online tour will be available until September 2020. 

Gut Feelings Exhibition
Photograph: Supplied

10. Gut Feelings: Your Mind, Your Microbes

Things to do Exhibitions Melbourne Museum, Carlton

When is the last time you really considered your gut health? Or thanked the tiny microbes that live your intestinal track and digest your food, boost your immunity and keep you healthy? Scientists are learning more every day about the fascinating community of microbes that live inside each and every one of us. There are more microbes inside the human body than there are stars in the Milky Way, and they weigh up to 2kg.  Melbourne Museum's Gut Feelings exhibition will change your mind about the tiny creatures (yes, they're alive!) that you share your body with. The interactive exhibition is a multi-sensory experience, with things to touch, hear and see. UPDATE 22/06/2020: In line with current restriction levels, a maximum of 20 people will be allowed in each of Melbourne Museum's spaces, and the one person per four square metres rule will apply. In addition to managing capacity, the museum will also have in place other physical distancing, hygiene and sanitisation measures to help protect the safety of all visitors, staff and volunteers.   

Carnivore dinosaur at Melbourne Zoo
Photograph: Supplied

11. Dinosaurs at the zoo

Things to do Multiple venues

Working in a secret lab, scientists at Melbourne's main three zoos have discovered a way to clone dinosaur DNA, found inside mosquitoes trapped in amber. They've filled in the missing sequences using frog DNA to create moving, roaring dinosaurs, which you can see for 100 days throughout the zoos. What could possibly go wrong? OK, we might have got a little bit over-excited about the prospect of dinosaurs at the zoo. These dinosaurs are large-scale models of these ancient beasts, but they will be roaming around at Healesville, Werribee and Melbourne zoos again until July. If you're lucky, you might see a keeper waking a sleeping dinosaur, or come face to face with a moving prehistoric creature. At Melbourne Zoo you can experience the newly landscaped Dino Lab. See baby dinosaurs sleeping in a dino nest, visit the incubation station to see the breeding program, or kids can go on a dino dig and excavate fossils to help the Zoo's Dino Field Research team. There will be daily activities and plenty of dino facts to learn. At Werribee Open Range Zoo, you calk walk through the Dinosaur River Trail. There are several life-sized dinosaurs to see and get up close and personal with, including the massive Tyrannosaurus rex.  And at Healesville Sanctuary, you can experience the Lost Sanctuary and hea

Deerskin film
Photograph: Supplied/AFFFF

12. Alliance Française French Film Festival

Film Film festivals Around Melbourne, Melbourne

Cancelled in the midst of cinema closures, the Alliance Française French Film Festival is picking itself up with Gallic insoucience and carrying on from Bastille Day, July 14, in Palace Cinemas across the country. Returning to the screen will be The Extraordinary, the new heart-tugger by the makers of the smash hit The Intouchables. It’s about a Jew and and Muslim (Vincent Cassel and Reda Kateb) who run two separate non-profit organisations training young people from underprivileged areas to be caregivers for autistic youth.   A whimsical comedy with echoes of Wes Anderson, The Bare Necessity involves an enigmatic young woman who forces a stagnant family in a remote village to rethink the way they live. Pierre Cardin is the latest French fashion icon to get a feature-length documentary, with House of Cardin, while Aznavour by Charles is a documentary portrayal of the famous French crooner.  Edmond is a period drama about playwright Edmond Rostand and the writing of Cyrano de Bergerac. Director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) offers The Lost Prince, in which a devoted dad (Omar Sy), who becomes a heroic prince whenever he reads to his daughter, has to deal with her growing up.  A new wave classic film from 50 years ago, Donkey Skin, has been restored and will screen at AFFFF. Jacques Demy’s film is based on an adult-oriented fairy tale that Disney is unlikely to adapt, and stars Catherine Deneuve. There’s no shortage of big name stars in the line-up, with new films starring M

Installation view of 'Collecting Comme'
Photograph: Tom Ross/NGV

13. Collecting Comme

Art Design NGV International, Southbank

The National Gallery of Victoria has always been quite forward-thinking in its integration of design and fashion into its exhibition program, but it also has a hugely impressive collection of design, including a heap of pieces from Japanese label Comme des Garçons. The label is led by founder and designer Rei Kawakubo, who has been creating innovative fashion since the 1970s, and is continuing on that journey today. The NGV collection includes key pieces by Kawakubo, which are being shown in this free exhibition. They've been donated by Takamasa Takahashi since 2005, and together show how Kawakubo's designs challenged tradition to create a new fashion vocabulary. The pieces range from 1981, when Kawakubo first showed work in Paris, to recent designs from the 2014 'Blood and Roses' collection.

Face (with Yellow Background)c.1947brush and ink and gouache o
Artwork: Supplied / ©Joy Hester/Copyright Agency 2019

14. Joy Hester: Remember Me

Art Paintings Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen

Heide Museum of Modern Art is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Joy Hester’s birth with a huge survey of the artist’s work. Joy Hester: Remember Me encompasses more than 130 works from the Melbourne artist, spanning her earliest drawings as a student to her famously emotive ink paintings.  Hester shares a strong connection with Heide. She was a member of the Angry Penguins movement which was based at the homestead of John and Sunday Reed – which now forms part of the Heide Museum of Modern Art complex.  During her lifetime, Hester’s art struggled to find the commercial success experienced by other members of the Angry Penguins (such as her husband Albert Tucker). Hester’s signature ink wash paintings were commonly seen as too dark and angsty by critics – she was also a practicing artist in a time of strictly enforced gender roles, a fact that potentially affected her ability to sell works. These days Hester is regarded as one of Australia’s most important Modernist artists and a pioneer for women in the creative industries. Hester produced works that fearlessly portrayed her visions on sex, death, birth and illness as her diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma deeply affected her work. Joy Hester: Remember Me features works from some of the artist’s most renowned series such as ‘Incredible Night Dreams’, ‘Faces’, ‘Lovers’, and ‘Girls’. Joy Hester: R

Children playing at Air Playground Exhibition_
Photograph: Supplied/Love Bree Photography

15. Air Playground

Kids Exhibitions Scienceworks, Spotswood

Scienceworks is blowing guests away with an exhibition all about air. Air Playground is a 600m2 playspace where kids can explore six worlds that unpack the invisible but important resource. They’ll learn the basics of aerodynamics by designing their own paper planes, play around with the physics of airflow, and even make objects float. As part of its breezy programming, Scienceworks will also be hosting giant bubble shows and blowing up a giant inflatable sculpture for kids to bounce around on. Air Playground has been extended until July 31 so see it before it blows away.

Liquid Light NGV 2019
Image courtesy NGV

16. Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass

Art NGV International, Southbank

Venetian glass is known across the world for its vibrant colour, elaborate designs and exquisite craftsmanship, honed over centuries by traditional glassblowers on the Venetian island of Murano. In Liquid Light, the National Gallery of Victoria brings together their extensive collection of glass pieces to explore the development of the Venetian glass tradition, from the Golden Age of the 16th century to the postmodern creations of the Memphis Group. Highlights include a Games of Thrones-worthy 17th century goblet, complete with intertwining dragons coiling around the stem, and a contemporary patchwork vase by renowned Murano glass artist Fulvio Bianconi.

A stock image of a bubbling cauldron.
Photograph: Supplied

17. The Wizard’s Den

Things to do Food and drink Polly, Fitzroy

Update 29/05/20: Following the shutdowns, the Wizard's Den will reopen four days a week from June 24. Staff have implemented measures to ensure a safe experience. While you won’t find the most famed greasy-haired potions masters or boy wizard at this creative drinking experience, you will have a lot of fun at the Wizard's Den if you’re keen on the occult. At this Fitzroy pop-up experience you can channel the powers of your coven idol, from Sabrina to Hermione, and brew devilish (read: alcoholic) concoctions over the course of 90-minutes.  The experience takes place upstairs at Brunswick Street bar Polly, which has been masterfully decked out to suit the theme. Hefty tomes hang from the ceiling, eye-catching glassware and bottles of elixirs and “witch’s brew” surround dripping candles and fairy lights.  A wand is supplied upon entry at the Wizard's Den, but you'll have to BYO robe if you want to wear one (they used to be supplied before the shutdowns). Your golden ticket also covers the cost of a beer or mulled wine – the remainder of the drinks you’ll have to concoct yourself in two fun scavenger hunts. Groups will be tasked with finding special ingredients located all over the bar by solving puzzles and tricky riddles. Don’t worry though, you’ll be guided by your trusty potion master during the session (but we might suggest procuring some Felix Felicis just in case).  This potion-making experience is happening at Polly's Bar in Fitzroy. Sessions are available Wednesday, Thur

Actors take on the kings of Shakespeare's history plays
Photograph: supplied

18. Age of Crowns

Theatre Drama Your Place, Melbourne

Shakespeare famously wrote in As You Like It that, “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Thanks to producer, actor, writer and director David Meadow, that holds truer now than ever before in these midsummer-dreaming days of lockdown. He has assembled actors from across the globe to perform Shakespeare’s beloved history plays from their living rooms as a series of livestream events spread across four months. Dubbed the very Game of Throne’s sounding Age of Crowns, it’s a collaboration between St Kilda’s Alex Theatre, Melbourne actors’ company Circle in the Sand and the International Actors Ensemble. The latter is a band of merry players who met at Shakespeare’s Globe in London in 2015 and who and hail from no fewer than 14 different countries. The show must go online. Taking a bow on Monday April 27 at 7pm AEST, Karlis Zaid plays the war-hungry king in Richard II. From then on there’s a new play every fortnight, cycling through the Henriad and The War of the Roses plays, plus some much-needed comic relief from the power-hungry plotting and bloody battles with The Merry Wives of Windsor. Coming to a close with Montgomery Sutton as both Richard III and the Duke of Gloucester on August 31, in a reversal of the Shakespearean tradition of men playing the female parts, Amy Bradney-George will portray King Henry VI. Seton Pollock plays the wayward Hal, with Jonathan fuller rounding out the main cast as both Henry IV and Bolingbroke. The rest of the ense

Three women in activewear sitting around drinking wine
Photograph: Supplied

19. Virtual Yoga and Wine

Things to do Classes and workshops Your Place, Melbourne

It is important (perhaps now more than ever) to prioritise our health, both physically and emotionally. With that in mind, Handpicked Wines is hosting virtual yoga and wine tasting classes every Saturday through until mid July. The online yoga and wine classes are led by experts and held live over Zoom. First guests participate in a 45-minute yoga class followed by a 30-minute wine tasting session hosted by a Handpicked Wines sommelier.  The online sessions cost $95 but includes three bottles of wine that are sent to your house prior. Depending on what date you select, you'll be tasting either textured whites, bold reds or a Italian whites. The virtual yoga and wine classes are available across Australia, but keep in mind that it can take up to five business days for your booze to arrive.

Generic drive in cinema image
Photograph: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

20. Parking Lot Social

Things to do Fairs and festivals Around Melbourne, Melbourne

The Parking Lot Social is a new kind of festival that, one year ago, would have seemed quite strange. It promises immersive entertainment, including live bands, a silent disco, bingo, comedy and even karaoke, all from the safety of your car.  Parking Lot Social is a new kind of entertainment spectacular from the people who brought us summer’s colourful Big Bounce jumping castle event. This new event, which hits major Australian cities in July, August and September, allows guests to purchase tickets, drive in and enjoy three hours of entertainment from their cars.  There’s live comedy and music from the custom-designed “super stage” that has a 16-metre-tall fire hydrant that shoots rainbows. You can take part in a massive sing-a-long for “car-a-oke” or play games of themed trivia. There will be kids activities, movie screenings and plenty of food trucks to keep you sated.  Parking Lot Social will be kicking off its Australia-wide tour in Sydney from July 9 to 19 before heading to Melbourne on July 23 to August 2, then hitting Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide. Head to the website to read all about how the event plans to keep punters and staff safe and to sign up for tickets. 

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