Things to do in Melbourne this week
Drag superstars, cult cabaret artists and gender-bending performance artists take over the city every summer – not to mention the swag of free parties, events and more. In the past few years, LGBTQIA-focused festival has begun to come into its own as an international arts festival, pairing a suite of free events and parties with a program of theatre, cabaret, live art and music. It's been more than three decades since the first Midsumma launched, and the festival now attracts talent from all corners of the globe. Whether you're queer or an ally, there's an event for everyone at Midsumma, so break out those rainbow threads and get celebrating! Here are the best things to see at Midsumma.
Every year, thousands head to Melbourne Park to watch the superstars of tennis battle it out in the fierce summer heat. Despite the heatwaves that occur regularly during the event (temperatures of 35 degrees or higher are common) the Australian Open continues to attract the world's best tennis players and their fans for the southern hemisphere's only Grand Slam tournament. Even if you don’t make it into the arena, Birrarung Marr will buzz with live entertainment and food stalls at the Australian Open Festival, where live screenings of matches will be played on big screens. The AO Live Stage also features a series of live performances by some amazing home-grown acts. This year will see Craig David, Angus and Julia Stone, Jet, Ballpark Music and more taking to the stage. Read about it here. Tickets start at only $49.
If you're a Lego fan, then there's nothing quite like seeing intricate Lego models in real life. That's where Brickvention comes in. Australia's premier fan-run Lego convention – which has been running for over a decade – is back in Melbourne. A huge number of Lego models fill the Royal Exhibition Building for two days. Lego fans of all ages have the chance to meet talented brick smiths, who proudly display their trains, castles, pirate ships, spaceships, planes, buildings, Star Wars models and more. Punters can also have a play in the build zone, stock up on rare sets of Lego in the merchandise area and be inspired to build incredible creations of your own. Legoland Discovery Centre is also hosting a huge Minifigure swap throughout the weekend – punters can trade superheroes for villans or pirates for police officers at the Legoland Discovery Centre's Brickvention booth, where there are over 3,000 Lego Minifigures to choose from. Tickets to Brickvention only available online, and Lego fans of all ages are invited to attend on the Saturday from 9am-5.30pm and Sunday from 9am-4pm.
At long last Melbourne muggles will be able to get a glimpse inside JK Rowling's Wizarding World with their own two eyes: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is headed to the Princess Theatre. After becoming the highest selling play on both Broadway and the West End, Melbourne is the third stop on the Hogwarts Express. The official opening is set for February 23, 2019, but there'll be preview performances from January 18. If you don't know a lot about the play, then here's the lowdown: it's a sequel to the series, based on a story conceived with Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. It's presented in two parts, which you can watch on the same day or across two consecutive evenings. We won't give too much away about the plot, but audiences can expect to find the gang 19 years on from the Battle of Hogwarts.
South Melbourne Market's annual night market will be returning in 2019, kicking off a killer summer on January 10. Returning for eight consecutive Thursday evenings, Melburnians can enjoy a balmy night of eating, drinking, and dancing as live music performers take the stage. You can expect 18 food trucks, four food marquees and six food carts, with many of the market's regular food traders also open. The night market will also feature local makers and designers from the market's SO:ME design space so keep a look out for beautiful homewares, jewellery, clothing, vintage collectables, and art pieces.
Séance is an immersive sound experience created by Brits Glen Neath and David Rosenberg, in collaboration with Melbourne team Realscape Productions. It relies on psychology and our inclination towards superstition to alter guests’ perception of reality, all while never leaving the shipping container. But boy howdy, it sure feels like you are in a real séance. The host of the séance goes around to each guest in turn, asking if they are alone, asking if they are believers, and giving instructions. The soundscape is exquisitely precise – I could point with unerring accuracy to where in the room the host is at each moment, and I dread the time when he comes to ask me some hard questions. And of course, as is usually the case with séances in art, things don't go strictly to plan, and spirits don't stay contained in the places you'd hope. That's when things get really scary – and 20 minutes will feel like a lot more.
The National Gallery of Victoria is bringing a world-first exhibition of works by MC Escher to Melbourne this summer. Between Two Worlds | Escher X nendo will feature more than 160 prints and drawings from the renowned Dutch artist as well as an immersive Escher-inspired environment created by Japanese design studio Nendo. We can't wait to see how they'll respond to Escher's most iconic image: the physically impossible, Hogwarts-esque staircases. Escher rose to prominence in the 20th-century art world for his mind-bending and mathematically complex works like ‘Hand with Reflecting Sphere’, ‘Relativity’ and ‘Balcony’. Though he considered himself to have little mathematical ability his art has become iconic for its seamless tessellation, warped perspectives and impossible objects – like endless, connected staircases and mirrored self-portraits. The works are on loan from the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague and will be joined by an immersive experience created by Nendo design studio. By manipulating geometry, space and perception like Escher, Nendo will create a never-before-seen exhibit that will bring the artist’s work to life. Cathy Leahy, the NGV's senior curator of prints and drawings says that Nendo is using Escher's playfulness to create the world-first experience. "Escher works with positive and negative space a lot and shapes transforming from one element to another. Nendo have created this space that you walk through that has some of those elements."
For ten days over summer, culinary rockstar Andrew McConnell, the man behind basically every bucket list restaurant in the city (Cutler and Co, Cumulus Inc, to name only two), is bringing back his Supernormal pop-up. This time Supernormal Natsu will be hosted out at Supernormal Canteen in St Kilda. Natsu, which means summer in Japanese, is a 100 per cent vegetarian, 13-day takeover that will champion local organic growers. They are also sourcing wild seaweeds and sea vegetables and foraging for native ingredients. They'll be making their silken tofu in-house daily; serving hand rolled udon with cold dashi, herb-infused soy and summer vegetables; pressing a vego parmigiana katsu between two slices of crustless white bread; and grilling vegetable yakitori with fermented flatbread.
Kayla is exactly the wrong girl to be posting YouTube videos about "confidence" or "being yourself," but you'll absolutely love her for trying. As played in the sweetly sympathetic Eighth Grade by then-13-year-old Elsie Fisher (hatching a guileless, emotionally exposed performance that could be underrated due to the film's documentary-like rawness), Kayla is a heartbreaking flow of awkward ums, likes and circular brain farts. She turns the act of speech into an alien process. As the lens widens out, Kayla's shyness comes into sharper view: the post-it notes dotting her mirror reminding her to practice small talk and jokes, and Fisher's own inchoate physicality – a pimply, round face that contains hints of the pre-flame-out Lindsay Lohan. Writer-director Bo Burnham's debut feature tracks Kayla during her final week of middle school, a transitional moment fraught with anxiety.
Fans of Midsumma (Jan 19-Feb 10) will be well-acquainted with Carnival and T Dance, which open the festival every year. This year is set to be louder and prouder than ever, with a talent-packed line-up of live music, performances, food trucks, stalls, and of course, the famous Dog Show. Can you believe the whole day is free? Our first tip for getting the most out of Carnival: check the schedule before you go and plan your highlights in advance. The main stage action kicks off at 11am, where you'll see drag performances, clever comedy and musical acts. No Carnival is complete without the Dog Show at 3pm – register your pup at the Guide Dogs stall before 2.30pm to be involved. The whole of Carnival is family friendly, and there'll be plenty of food trucks to keep you partying all day long. The celebrations don't end with Carnival. At 6pm, T Dance begins – this time packing a queer-tastic line-up that will have you moving well into the night.
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