Best things to do in Melbourne in March
It’s been more than 30 years since Pixies released their first studio album, Surfer Rosa. The album introduced the world to a nonchalant, quiet-but-loud form of alternative rock that would go on to influence everyone from Nirvana to PJ Harvey. In 2020 Pixies are returning to their roots with a world tour that showcases the band’s seminal releases. The Come on Pilgrim...It’s Surfer Rosa tour gives you exactly what it says on the box – that is EP Come On Pilgrim and album Surfer Rosa played in full. That means punters will be blessed with bangers like the twangy, surprisingly surfy hit ‘The Holiday Song’; the mellow pop-rock of ‘Gigantic’; and of course the spine-tinglingly good ‘Where is My Mind’. As well as playing their earliest releases in full, the Kim Deal-less Pixies (the current line-up features Black Francis, David Lovering, Joey Santiago and Paz Lenchantin) will perform old and new tracks from their 30 years in the biz. Pixies’ will perform at the Palais on Monday, March 9 and Tuesday, March 10 2020. Tickets go on sale at 1pm on Thursday, August 8.
Ben Folds is one of the world’s most versatile musicians, having carved out a 20-year career spanning piano pop rock, soundtracks, experimental collaborations and contemporary orchestral compositions. In March 2020, Folds is returning to Australia to showcase the latter, teaming up with Australia’s symphony orchestras for a genre-bending tour. If you’re familiar with Folds, don’t come expecting the same honky-tonk from his album concerts. “In these concerts, the orchestra is my band. When I perform with an orchestra, I tell audiences that I’m expressing myself through a different form than what they have come to expect in a rock show, a form that happens to be done by people who are among the best musicians on the planet and who do it all the time,” says Folds. Ben Folds will be performing with the Melbourne Symphony orchestra on Sunday, March 22 2020 at Plenary (at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre). This isn’t the first time that Folds has collaborated with the MSO, back in 2014, he joined them in a concert that included a improv jam session. Tickets are on sale now.
Even if you missed his Tony-winning musical Matilda (and more fool you if you did), even if you missed his scene-stealing turn as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, and even if you missed his Back tour when it first came to Melbourne in 2019, all is not lost for Tim Minchin fans. Tim Minchin is bringing Back back to Melbourne in March 2020 for an encore tour. The original 2019 iteration of Back was the first time Minchin had toured Australia in a decade, an absence that was acutely felt if the 69,000-strong attendance is anything to go by. The irreverent Minchin describes Back as "old songs, new songs, fuck you songs". And he certainly has plenty of the latter – Minchin's version of 'I Still Call Australia Home' provided a small beacon of light during Australia's shameful marriage equality plebiscite debacle, and his 'Come Home (Cardinal Pell)' which threw pointed barbs at Cardinal George Pell (who has since been convicted of child sex offences). Tickets flew out the door last time Back toured so you can expect them to go just as quick this time too. Pre sales start August 26, with general sales starting midday August 28.
Every couple of years, globe-trotting circus company Cirque du Soleil pops up its Grand Chapiteau in Melbourne for a season of good, old-fashioned spectacle and entertainment. Its next show to come to town has got a decidedly retro vibe and has been widely praised as the company's best in years. When it was in New York back in 2016, Time Out gave it a glowing five-star review: "Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities is a procession of wonders: the Canadian circus giant’s sharpest, sexiest, most stylish production in years. In a departure from the otherwordly themes for which Cirque is best known, writer-director Michel Laprise embraces a steampunk aesthetic: metal and leather, chunky robots, glowing filaments under glass, a singer with a phonograph horn on her head. The style may be retro, but the acts—and the technical ingenuity that makes them possible—are fully up-to-date. The show is a mad scientist’s lab of wild invention, in which circus artists from around the planet perform routines of breathtaking beauty and precision." Kurios is at Flemington Racecourse from March 12, 2020. Tickets go on sale March 18, 2019 at 9am.
We know and love the Tesselaar farm’s annual tulip festival. Now, the regional floral farm has another annual festival: Kabloom. The Tesselaar KaBloom festival combines circus arts and flowers for an exciting autumn festival in the Dandenongs. The festival also features a host of kid-friendly events among the flower fields. Kids under 16 get free entry into the festival, while adult tickets start at $22. The farm is open every day from 10am to 5pm until Sunday, April 19.
It's time to don your ballet shoes and practice your plié – Billy Elliot the Musical is on its way back to Australian shores for a tenth anniversary tour. The British musical blockbuster is opening at the Sydney Lyric in October, with four freakishly talented youngsters sharing the title role: Omar Abiad (12, from Brisbane), River Mardesic (10, from Melbourne), Wade Neilsen (12, from Newcastle) and Jamie Rogers (12, from Canberra). They're joined by Australian musical theatre stalwart Kelley Abbey as the tough-as-nails ballet teacher Mrs Wilkinson, and Justin Smith as Billy's father. The musical is set against the background of the 1984/85 UK coal miners' strike and tells the story of Billy, a miner's son who dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. Lee Hall, who wrote the popular 2000 film upon which the musical is based, adapted the story for the stage with musical superstar Elton John, who penned the score. Elton John said: "Billy Elliot for me is one of the most rewarding and creative works of my career. I have very fond memories of the Sydney production in 2007 as it was the first city outside of the UK we mounted the show and found many incredibly talented children who would go on to carry the show through its successful Australian run." After opening on London's West End in 2005 – where it scored a five-star review from Time Out London – the show had its Australian premiere in 2007, winning a record-equalling seven Helpmann Awards including Best Musical.
Melbourne institution Bimbo (universally called Bimbo's) is celebrating LGBTQI pride each and every Sunday from 3pm. Queer Deluxe is an all-inclusive day to relax, eat, drink, boogie and celebrate queer culture. There are performers, drag queens, DJs and drink specials, including $20 Bloody Mary, Spritz and Margarita cocktail jugs. Bimbo reopened after a devastating fire in May 2019 and has re-cemented its place in Melbourne's north for good times and great eats. And yes, of course, the pizza is still just $4.
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 trip to the Yarra Valley is always an excellent day out – for everyone except the poor schmuck who draws the short straw and can't partake because they're driving. So why not take a tour to the Yarra Valley, allowing everyone to enjoy the fruits of someone else's labours? Chillout Tours runs small tours of up to 11 people (or up to 25 for privately booked tours), and the bus picks up eager wine tasters in the centre of Melbourne, outside St Paul's Cathedral. The first stop is the world-famous Domaine Chandon winery, owned by Moët and Chandon and purveyors of some of Australia's favourite sparkling wine. The views are stunning at Domaine Chandon, with panoramic vistas over the vines and softly rolling hills, and best enjoyed with a glass of sparkling in hand. Luckily that's just what's on offer at this first stop. A staff member explains four different sparklings (the brut, Cygnet rosé, sparkling pinot shiraz and sweet cuvée riche), and you get a full glass of whichever one of the four you choose. You have a bit of time at Chandon, so if you want to do a full tasting ($12 for about six tastes) or order a second glass, go for it. The second stop is at small winery Soumah, which is an abbreviation for South of the Maroondah Highway. It sells Yarra Valley stalwarts chardonnay and pinot noir, but it also specialises in northern Italian varietals like nebbiolo, brachetto, pinot grigio and savagnin, which the winery has renamed 'Savarro'. After the tasting and a chat with Soum
Even if you don't know his name, you're almost certainly familiar with Brian Donnelly's (aka Kaws) larger-than-life sculptures and paintings. Kaws take icons from cartoons and pop culture and reimagines them in vulnerable and unexpected situations. His signature? Their hands are marked with sharp crosses. For several decades, Kaws has been one of the world's most prolific contemporary artists and his work is equally in demand with major modern art galleries as it is with brands and pop artists. He's collaborated with MTV (and redesigned their Moonman in his signature style), Nike and Uniqlo, designed album covers for Kanye West and Towa Tei, and crashed New York's Museum of Modern Art's website when they sold a limited edition Kaws action figure. This new exhibition at the NGV (which is running at the same time as the gallery's Basquiat and Haring blockbuster) features paintings, sculptures, graphic design and product design, covering the full spectrum of his creative output. Central to the exhibition is a monumental sculpture, which is his largest work in bronze so far. And which characters should you expect to see? Well, definitely his take on Mickey Mouse, probably The Simpsons (or 'Kimpsons' in the world of Kaws) and maybe even Spongebob.
More things to do in Melbourne this month
Find all the best art exhibitions in Melbourne over the next few weeks.
There's an enormous range of shows on our stages over the course of this month, from spectacular solo performances (seriously, do not miss Deer Woman and Since Ali Died) to large-scale spectacles like Melbourne Theatre Company's Shakespeare in Love. If you prefer your theatre a little more interactive, head to A Midnight Visit, or if you need some song in your life, check out the new Melbourne production of Sunday in the Park with George.
If you love food and live in Melbourne, your 'must-try' list of new restaurants, cafés and bars probably takes up your phone's entire storage capacity by now. Luckily, we've put together a curated list of the newest, hottest and coolest restaurants our critics are raving about.
Guess what? Not everything in Melbourne costs a bunch of money. From art shows to coffee tastings, there are a bunch of things to do in this fine city that you can do for free – here are our favourites.
These are the best places to eat in this city right now: the freshest, most inventive and memorable venues, ranked by our expert local editors.
Here is Melbourne viewed through the bottom of a glass: from its world-beating cocktail lounges to its down-and-divey saloons. These bars represent the pinnacle of Melbourne drinking.
If you're looking for a break from the inner-city grid, there's no better cure than a day trip from Melbourne. The state of Victoria is full of friendly neighbourhood towns, whether you're in the mood for a winery tour, a road trip or a national park to explore.
Borrow your nanna's tartan shopping trolley and venture out to one of Melbourne's best markets for farm-fresh produce, designer homewares, vintage fashions and tasty street food.
From food to laneways, drinking to ghosts, these tours are the best way to get to know a different side of Melbourne.
We've scoped out the best activities Melbourne has to offer kids of all ages, and even a few that will keep the whole family entertained.