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The Winter Village 2019 aerial shot
Photograph: Supplied

Things to do in Melbourne this week

Enjoy the best things to do in Melbourne this week, including events, festivals and dazzling exhibitions

By Rebecca Russo, Cassidy Knowlton, Nicola Dowse and Rushani Epa
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Check out our curated guide to all the fun things to do in Melbourne right now. As the city slowly and steadily reopens, there's lots to do and a feeling of energy in the air. While many large events are still off the cards, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the best of Melbourne in a responsible (and fun!) manner. Not ready to head out just yet? Here is a list of things to do at home.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Melbourne when it rains.

Things to do in Melbourne this week

Frozen 2 still for ACMI's Disney exhibition
Photograph: Supplied

1. Explore ACMI's new Disney exhibition

Art Drawings ACMI - Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne

After a massive renovation, ACMI is ready to host big winter masterpieces exhibitions again. And our national museum of screen culture isn’t holding back, announcing a huge 90-year showcase of Disney animation with a glimpse behind the scenes at Walt Disney Animation Studios, one of the world’s most prolific animation studios. Opening on May 13, the exhibition will feature over 500 original artworks that date from the 1920s to the present day, including sketches and concept art from Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie to new release Raya and the Last Dragon.

Comedian Dane Simpson performing on stage
Photograph: Jim Lee Photo 2018

2. Laugh along at the Deadly Funny Showcase

Comedy Stand Up Malthouse Theatre, Southbank

Hot of the heels of Melbourne International Comedy Festival, some of stand-up's funniest First Nations comedians are coming together for a one night laugh-stravaganza. The Deadly Funny Showcase is the result of MICF's Deadly Funny workshop program and comp, which aims to unearth the best Indigenous comedians around. It does a pretty good job too, with past grads inclusing Steph Tisdell and Dane Simpson. 

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The Winter Village, winter, exterior overview
Photograph: Supplied/Sense Communications

3. Warm up at the Winter Village

Things to do Food and drink Federation Square, Melbourne

The Skyline Terrace at Federation Square will once again be transforming into a free, family friendly winter wonderland complete with ice skating, food trucks and pop-up bars, as well as a magical igloo village. There will be winter-themed treats perfect for keeping warm, or you can book a private igloo and get a food and beverage package that starts at $49 per person.

Good Beer Week commercial
Photograph: Supplied

4. Froth it up at Good Beer Week

Bars Breweries Around Melbourne, Melbourne

What event makes beer-lovers flock to a hefty program of tasting parties, beer and food matching events, workshops and brewery tours? Why, Good Beer Week of course. Since launching in 2011 the yearly event, held in May, has worked towards becoming one of the best beer festivals in the Asia Pacific. Here are our top picks of the festival

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The Smith Drag Brunch
Photograph: The Smith

5. Shantay at Drag Brunch

Things to do Food and drink The Smith, Prahran

What could be better than huge hair, drag performances and club bangers? What about if you threw in unlimited booze? And had all that at breakfast time? Coinciding with the airing of RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under, the Smith is running a bottomless drag brunch every Sunday from noon to 2pm, and then again from 3 to 5pm (which, yes, we admit is not breakfast time anymore, even on a Sunday).

A man reads emphatically from a note in a living room/kitchen space. Another man and a woman are also in the room, looking grim with their arms crossed or hands in their pockets.
Photograph: Charlie Kinross

6. Watch MTC's newest, 'The Lifespan of a Fact'

Theatre Comedy Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank

It feels like there’s no better time than right now to explore the concept of “truth”. MTC is leaning into that by launching the second half of its 2021 season with an Australian premiere exploring that very concept. In comedic Broadway hit, The Lifespan of a Fact, we’re introduced to literary magazine intern Jim Fingal, who’s asked to fact check the work of a venerated essayist – only to find it’s riddled with inconsistencies. Starring Nadine Garner and Steve Mouzakis, The Lifespan of a Fact also introduces MTC audiences to Ngāti Toa actor, Karl Richmond (Punk Rock).

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Queens of the Damned pirate
Photograph: Queens of the Damned

7. Enjoy the new pirate show by Queens of the Damned

Things to do Mission to Seafarers, Docklands

Whether you're a fan of Captain Jack Sparrow or the guy who tells Tom Hanks, "I am the captain now," we're pretty sure you haven't seen pirates like these before. Cabaret performers Queens of the Damned are putting on a pirate-themed dinner theatre production, fresh off a very popular run at Old Melbourne Gaol. This performance takes place across four different rooms in the 100-year-old Mission to Seafarers.

The Wedding Singer
Photograph: Nicole Cleary

8. Sing along at the Wedding Singer – the Musical Comedy

Theatre Musicals Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne

Tizzy up your hair and whip out your powder blue dinner suits – a musical comedy based on The Wedding Singer is coming to Melbourne. The Wedding Singer – the Musical Comedy has announced it’s coming to the Athenaeum Theatre from April 30, following sold-out performances in the UK and on Broadway.

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Big Weather exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre
Photograph: Tom Ross/NGV

9. See the NGV's First Nations exhibition Big Weather

Art The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

The weather has long been the go-to topic, especially in Melbourne (talk about four seasons in one day, am I right?). The weather is more than just small talk, however – it is intrinsically linked to the climate and the environment. Big Weather explores Australia's weather – and specifically the knowledge, stories and perspectives on the weather as told by First Nations artists. The exhibition showcases works from Indigenous artists that are related to the weather, including representations of ancestral rain, hail and storm spirits; works exploring climate change-induced extreme weather events; and the place of animals and how they're affected by the environment and weather.

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An elderly man with short white hair and only one warm meditatively smears black paint on a white wall. He is covered in black paint too.
Photograph: Mark Porkorny

11. Explore Mike Parr's new exhibition

Art Installation Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Arguably Australia's most famous performative artist, Mike Parr is transforming Anna Schwartz Gallery as part of his new solo exhibition Half Way House. Over the course of three months, Parr – aka the guy who lived under a Hobart road for Dark Mofo – is presenting four blind peformative works and installations at the Flinders Lane gallery.

Yirramboi Festival
Photograph: Supplied/Candice Lorrae

12. Get amongst Yirramboi Festival

Things to do Fairs and festivals Around Melbourne, Melbourne

Yirramboi First Nations arts and culture festival is back for 2021, with over 150 events to explore this May 6 to 16. The biennial festival first ran in 2017 when a city-wide "blak out" transformed Melbourne with First Nations-led dance, music, visual art, theatre and film events. The 2021 festival is set to be the biggest yet and one of the first opportunities for many performers to get back in front of a live audience after 2020. Here are our top picks.

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tommy wiseau, the room
Image: The Room

13. Enjoy terrible movies at So Bad it's Good

Film Special screenings Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn

You can keep your Oscars, your Golden Globes, your worthy French films. Give us a terrible movie that we can laugh at any day. And that's exactly what Lido Cinemas is doing, with a monthly screening of notoriously terrible movies on the first Friday of the month. Even better, the event is being hosted by Zachary Ruane, of side-splitting comedy troupe Aunty Donna. 

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie Rocky Road pack
Photograph: Supplied

14. Head to this regional Rocky Road Festival

Things to do Fairs and festivals Multiple venues

Attention sweet tooths: arguably the state’s sweetest destinations – Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and the Mornington Peninsula Chocolaterie – are throwing a month-long Rocky Road Festival of Flavours this May.

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Yirramboi Festival
Photograph: Supplied/Candice Lorrae

15. See 'Ngarngk; Giver of Life' at La Mama

Theatre Drama La Mama Courthouse, Carlton

Nyoongar/Burmese writer NazAree Dickerson is putting First Nations women at the forefront in her debut play. Ngarngk; Giver of Life is a story of Indigenous motherhood and the desire to return to traditional practices. "Ngarngk" is a Nyoongar word meaning "giver of life"; an apt title given how the play tells the story of a mother willing to give everything to fight and protect her family. Ngarngk stars Carissa Lee and Kristel Kickett and is showing at La Mama Courthouse from May 9 to 14. 

A woman superimposed over a cathedral-like building
Photograph: Justin Ridler

16. Watch MTC's new play Berlin

Theatre Drama Southbank Theatre (Melbourne Theatre Company), Southbank

Australia’s most popular playwright of recent decades, Joanna Murray-Smith, is returning with a show about two young people meeting one night in Berlin. They have vastly different family backgrounds, and each has been affected by the city’s dark past. It touches on history ranging from World War II until today, with Germany’s frequently debated approach to refugees coming under the microscope. Iain Sinclair, behind MTC’s excellent A View from the Bridge, is directing Grace Cummings in this premiere. 

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Mass Movement by Latai Taumoepeau
Photograph: Teresa Tan

17. Explore the Refuge program

Art Arts House, North Melbourne

For six years now (bar 2020) Arts House has been running Refuge, an annual program looking at how we can prepare for crises through the lens of art and creativity. Previously the program has covered floods, heatwaves and even pandemics (perhaps DHHS should have turned to Arts House for help last year?) but 2021 is a little different. The 2021 Refuge program will explore what happens when multiple crises occur – when shit well and truly hits the fan, so to speak. 

A woman with long red hair and a woman with dark hair and a blunt fringe look down pensively. There is a painting of the ocean on the wooden wall behind them
Photograph: Supplied / Fortyfivedownstairs

18. Watch Australian musical 'Voyage'

Theatre Musicals fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne

The stories of Australia's colonial history has been done to death, but a new musical from the Good Girl Song Project is sharing a different side of the country's past. Voyage is an Australian musical that details the stories and rarely covered history of single, immigrant women who freely chose to leave Britain for Australia in the 1830s. 

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Nicole Kidman retrospective
Photograph: Supplied

19. Watch something at the Nicole Kidman Retrospective

Film Film festivals Multiple venues

Moulin Rouge, The Hours, Big Little Lies, Paddington… Nicole Kidman’s career has spanned decades, genres and mediums. There’s a reason she’s one of the best working actors out there. So, to show their appreciation for our Nic, Classic Cinema and Lido Cinema are hosting a Nicole Kidman retrospective throughout April, May and June.

Imaginaria new installations 2021
Photograph: William Hamilton-Coates

20. Discover the enchanting world of Imaginaria

Things to do The District Docklands, Docklands

The District Docklands gets a glow-up with Imaginaria – a magical "future play experience". In layman's terms, Melbourne, it's a giant, glowing, otherworldy all-ages playground to explore.

 

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Mary Quant, Bendigo Art Gallery
Photograph: Mary Quant and Vidal Sassoon, 1964. © Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

21. See Bendigo's Mary Quant exhibition

Art Design Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo

When you think of 1960s fashion, you think of Mary Quant. The revolutionary designer changed the way young people dressed forever, encouraging them to be playful with fashion and to disregard the style of their parents and grandparents while also being one of the driving forces behind the Mod fashion movement. Heck, Quant is even credited as one of the designers who made mini skirts and hot pants a thing. Bendigo Art Gallery pays tribute to the influential British designer with a new, exclusive exhibition, Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary.

Three women wearing activewear smiling and walking through a grassy path surrounded by palms, ferns and flowers
Photograph: Supplied / Melbourne Botanic Gardens

22. Take part in Botany Bootcamp

Things to do Walks and tours Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne

Melbourne's Botanic Gardens has got to be one of our favourite places to stretch our gams. It's might soon be one of your favourites too, with the gardens (re)launching its Botany Bootcamp program. The Botany Bootcamp first ran in 2020 but had to be put on pause due to you-know-what. The two-hour sessions have participants power walking around the lush grounds while also learning more about the plants in the gardens. 

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Three monochromatic faces painted on three silos
Photograph: © Rone

23. Road trip to Geelong's Rone showcase

Art Street art Geelong Gallery, Geelong

Over the last 20 years, Rone has cemented himself as one of Australia’s most successful street artists. He has carved himself a niche in the world of urban art by routinely taking over abandoned places and distressed spaces and filling them with large, despondent portraits of women. What you might not know is that Rone – real name Tyrone Wright – is from Geelong and he’s returning home for his first survey exhibition.

Miffy illustration
Photograph: © Mercis by Amsterdam/Dick Bruna

24. See the adorable Miffy exhibition

Art Drawings Bunjil Place Library, Narre Warren

Everyone knows and loves Miffy, the adorable rabbit made famous in a series of picture books drawn by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. Miffy’s name in Dutch was originally Nijntje (a shortening of konijntje, which means little rabbit), and she was created by Bruna as a bedtime story for his son. Much like Hello Kitty, Miffy has managed to become a globally recognised and sincerely loved character for over 60 years. Now, Miffy is getting her own exhibition at Bunjil Place.

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Render of Moama Lights projection
Photograph: Visit Victoria/Supplied

25. Drive up to see Moama Lights

Art Digital and interactive Horseshoe Lagoon,

This year, the Murray border community of Echuca Moama is throwing a brand new festival around this legendary river. Moama Lights is a sound and light event that runs from May 8 to 22. It will take place at the Horseshoe Lagoon, a 600-metre-long lit-up trail that visitors can traverse and explore three different chapters of Echuca Moama’s story – its Indigenous heritage, subsequent European colonisation and finally, modern-day Echuca Moama.

She-Oak and Sunlight Australian Impressionism She-oak and sunlight, 1889, Tom Roberts
Photograph: NGV | Detail of She-oak and sunlight, 1889, Tom Roberts

26. Visit the NGV's new Australian Impressionism exhibit

Art Paintings The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Some of the most well-known Australian Impressionist paintings are currently front and centre at the Ian Potter Centre. She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionism brings together nearly 300 Australian Impressionist paintings from the likes of Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Jane Sutherland, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, Clara Southern and John Russell.

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A man person with short hair stands in a forest with their arm and palm outstretched
Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Moore Contemporary, Perth

27. See TarraWarra's Slow Moving Waters

Art TarraWarra Museum of Art, Tarrawarra

In a society that glorifies always being on, TarraWarra Museum of Art has chosen to amplify the opposite. For its 2021 biennial, the gallery presents Slow Moving Waters: an exhibition exploring slowness, deceleration, drift and the elasticity of time. From March 27, TarraWarra will exhibit works from 24 Australian artists that examine the slow road through life – whether that be through concept, medium or political statement.

Angels Garden Party, 2014,
Photograph: Supplied/Jewish Museum

28. Check out the Mirka Mora retrospective

Art Jewish Museum of Australia, St Kilda

It’s hard to fully comprehend the impact that artist Mirka Mora had on Melbourne. The French-born artist emigrated to Melbourne in 1951 following the Holocaust and quickly set about ingraining herself and her playful art within the city’s growing bohemian scene. 

There have been many exhibitions on Mora, but none quite like this. The Jewish Museum of Australia has announced Mirka: the most extensive survey of Mirka Mora ever. The museum is turning into an “immersive Mirka-world” for the exhibition, which features never-before-exhibited works from the Mora family and Mirka’s studio archives. 

Alongside these works, Mirka tells the artist’s story through her sketchbooks, letters, diaries and audio recordings from the Jewish Holocaust Centre’s archives. Mora and her family evaded the Nazis during World War II by hiding in French forests. The Jewish Museum of Australia planning to depict all the colours of the artist’s life from her Parisien childhood to the founding of Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne. 

Mirka opens February 14 at the Jewish Museum of Australia.

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Yhonnie Scarce, 'Prohibited Zone, Woomera' 2021
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and This is no Fantasy, Melbourne

29. Head to ACCA to see Yhonnie Scarce's exhibition

Art Sculpture and installations Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA, Southbank

Yhonnie Scarce is known for her masterful, almost magical, glass blowing technique and for her assemblages and public works. This year, ACCA pays homage to the leading contemporary artist in Missile Park, a survey of the last 15 years of Yhonnie Scarce's work, featuring all-new commissions. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Photograph: Matt Murphy

30. See Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage

Theatre Drama Princess Theatre, Melbourne

Performances of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will resume on Thursday, February 25. Tickets are on sale now for shows between February 25 and August 25. Click through to read our (spoiler-free!) review of Cursed Child. 

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