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Good Fest — A Westside Block Party Melbourne
Photograph: Mr West

Things to do in Melbourne this weekend

We've got you covered for the best things to do at home and on the town in Melbourne this Friday to Sunday.

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Update, Jan 5 2022: in light of the evolving Omicron surge, we recommend checking ahead to see if an event or venue you're planning to attend is still open, and what precautions and conditions of entry are in place. 

Has summer in Melbourne ever felt more, well, summer? The sun is shining, the rain is relatively intermittent and the sight of bright blue skies is putting us in a feel-good mood. Put those vibes to good use this weekend at one (or more) of the many fun, bright and loud activities on around the city.

Sunday marks the start of Midsumma FestivalMelbourne's premier LGBTQIA+ arts and culture festival – and there are so many amazing events to get involved in. West-side, there's Good Fest, a festival of food, bevs, tunes and all that is... you guessed it: good. It's hosted by craft beer faves Mr West.

If you need some dulcet tones to soothe your soul after a busy work week, it doesn't get much smoother than Aria award-winning musicians the Teskey Brothers, who have teamed up with the MSO for an epic performance. Or, for yet more classical-meets-contemporary, check out these candlelight orchestral performances of Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Coldplay and more.

If you are eating or drinking out, remember to be extra kind to staff right now – it's a pretty challenging time. We've put together a guide on how to practice etiquette when things are uncertain here

Friendly reminder that for most of the activities on this list, you must be double vaccinated and provide proof. For those who aren't vaccinated yet, here is how you can book in for your vaccine.

Looking for more ways to fill up your summer calendar? We've got you covered with 100 Days of Summer, the ultimate daily itinerary. 

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Melbourne

Drag superstars, cult cabaret artists and gender-bending performance artists take over the city this summer... and this time around we actually mean summer. Last year's festival was moved to autumn, but this year it's back where it belongs: smack bang in the middle of summer. Melbourne's LGBTQIA+ arts and culture festival returns for 2022, rising like a glittering phoenix from the garbage fire of 2021.

  • Kids
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Melbourne

School holidays are here and with weeks of holiday time comes the constant need to find activities to fill the day. For those looking for a new way to entertain the kids, Eynesbury's Kingdom Festival is open from January 22. The four-day festival is taking place at the Eynesbury Homestead and includes a program jam-packed with vibrant children's entertainment. The program includes face painting, rides and special guest appearances by Micky Trickstar, Professor Buns and more.

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  • Things to do
  • Food and drink
  • South Melbourne

There are few things Melburnians love more than gin, except maybe brunch. Luckily for us, Marko and Four Pillars are combining the two to create the cocktail and boozy brunch pairing of your dreams. From January 12 to April 25, the two Melbourne institutions are joining forces in a gin-spritz garden pop-up at South Melbourne Market. That means you can get your cocktail with a side of brunch while you shop. Plant-based dining hub Marko will be serving four signature gin-based cocktails that hero the Four Pillars Gin range.

  • Things to do
  • Pop-up locations
  • Melbourne

Want to watch the tennis outside but don't want to shell out for a ground pass? A pop-up bar along the banks of the river could be the perfect place to catch the action, drink in hand. The Canadian Club Racquet Club pop-up runs parallel to the Australian Open, so head down to the bar to watch match highlights between DJ sets from some of the most talked-about names in the business. Drinks are Canadian Clubs, of course (CC and Dry flows from taps, and you can also get CC Zero Dry cans), and Real O.G. and Dingo Ate My Taco has set up shop next door to keep you sated. Summer nights, sorted. 

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  • Art
  • Photography
  • Melbourne

Miss First Nations is regularly one of the hottest (not to mention, hardest to score a ticket to) events of Yirramboi festival. If you've never managed to see these queens strutting the runaway, you can still see them on the walls of Melbourne as part of Midsumma Festival 2022. The Miss First Nations exhibition takes over Scott Alley near City Library during Midsumma Festival with a photographic showcase of contestants from the Miss First Nations 2021 competition. You can view the exhibition for free from January 23 until February 28.

  • Music
  • Classical and opera
  • Melbourne

Experience your favourite songs by artists ranging from pop superstars like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran to classical icons like Beethoven and Mozart, all performed by live musicians on stages illuminated by candlelight. From January 14 until March 17, these candlelight concerts will take over venues across Melbourne including the Timber Yard, Meat Market and the Athenaeum Theatre. To make the night even more magical, some of the events will include ballet performances.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Carlton

In 1992, more than 50 Victorian schools were slated to close due to budget constraints. Among them was Northland Secondary College, a school with a large Aboriginal student body and an innovative Koori program. Staff, students and the community rallied around Northland and fought against the decision to shut the school, eventually leading to a hearing that decreed that the school could reopen for the 1994 school year.Melbourne Museum is highlighting this grassroots movement in an exhibition entitled Fight For Survival. The exhibition, which is showing at the Museum's Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Werribee South

Werribee Open Range Zoo is bringing back its Sunset Safari for a fourth season, inviting visitors to embark on an immersive safari adventure at dusk when wild animals tend to be most active. Every weekend from January 8 until March 13, visitors can hop onto a bus at the zoo and watch as the sun sets and illuminates the open range. You'll get to witness majestic animals like giraffes, rhinoceroses, ostriches, lions and hippopotamuses and learn from zoo guides about efforts to protect them from endangerment and extinction.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Carlton

In 1966, 200 Gurindji workers and their families initiated the Gurindji Walk-Off, a seminal event in Australian history that sparked the national land rights movement.

The walk-off and strike turned into a dispute that lasted seven years and eventually resulted in the return of some traditional lands to the Gurindji people. It also led to the passage of legislation that allowed First Nations peoples to claim land if they could prove that they had a traditional relationship or history to the country. 

In honour of the 50th anniversary of the strike, curator and participating artist Brenda L. Croft has developed multi-media exhibition Still In My Mind. The exhibition features photographs, an experimental video installation, contemporary and historical prints, drawings, textiles and found objects, digital platforms and archives. 

The exhibition is showing at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Melbourne Museum until May 15. Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased through the Museums Victoria website.

  • Restaurants

Stuck at home? Don't worry, you can still enjoy the city's finest dining – either on the couch or with pants on (if you're feeling fancy). However you like to indulge, these Melbourne restaurants will help you celebrate a special milestone at home, or maybe just a Friday night. And for something sweet? Here are Melbourne’s best desserts you can get delivered.

RECOMMENDED: Alcohol delivery services in Melbourne.

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  • Things to do
  • Melbourne

It's all happening at Fed Square this summer. From January 14, Melbourne's most famous square kicks off Kaleidosquare – a sizzling summer events schedule featuring public art, gigs, film screenings, workshops and more. In 2022, we’re particularly excited by the number of creative installations coming to the square, starting with Cupid’s Koi Garden by Eness. This colourful public work features a five-metre-tall inflatable water fountain of abstract fish inspired by Cupid, the cherubic Roman deity of love.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne

If you're an Alanis stan who has been singing ‘All I Really Want’ since they announced, and then postponed, the arrival of Morissette’s hit musical Jagged Little Pill in Australia, then do we have some massive news for you. Rogue Traders and Neighbours alumna Natalie Bassingthwaighte – the beloved star of musical hits including Chicago, Chess, Grease, Rent and more – has been cast in the lead role for Jagged Little Pill which is showing at Melbourne's Comedy Theatre from January 13.

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  • Things to do
  • Pop-up locations
  • Melbourne

Sugar Republic is back with a new event, but it looks a little different compared to the team's usual sugary, treat-filled installations. Bloomville is bringing nature to the Instragram grid with a new eye-catching installation in Aintree. The installation, opening on January 15, is all about flowers and fun times. Think confetti showers, cherry blossoms, a scratch 'n' sniff floral wall and all of the colour and aesthetic that we have come to expect from Sugar Republic.

  • Film
  • Outdoor cinema

During the warmer months, Melbourne's long days and balmy nights make for the perfect backdrop for an outdoor cinema. This is exactly why Melbourne has so many of them. From 1950's style drive-ins to outdoor rooftop cinemas scattered across the suburbs, our city has plenty of locations to catch an al fresco film – these are just a few of our favourites. 

Interested in a drive-in cinema instead? Here are the best ones in Melbourne.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Melbourne

Lego enthusiasts both young and old will be flocking to the State Library of Victoria this summer as the building is transformed into the State Library Bricktoria by a team of Lego experts. State Library Bricktoria features an array of Lego-inspired activities, including the live construction of a two-metre by one-metre replica of the State Library of Victoria. Kids can watch the construction and participate in a treasure hunt through the library, where they can collect six bespoke brick builds to take home.

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  • Theatre
  • Circuses
  • Melbourne

While it's true that many of us might have forgotten what it was like to wander through Melbourne's CBD during 2021, we're still pretty sure that it didn't used to be filled with acrobats and circus performers. This summer, Circus Oz is bringing a new, daring show to the literal streets of Melbourne. Everything but the Circus does away with the big top, with Circus Oz's star performers executing wondrous physical feats in Melbourne's laneways, malls, shopfronts and on balconies. 

  • Art
  • Installation
  • Melbourne

Everyone in Melbourne has heard of the mysterious Flinders Street Station Ballroom, but few have seen it. A Miracle Constantly Repeated has local artist Patricia Piccinini transform the enigmatic site into an uncanny art ecosystem filled with large-scale dioramas, huge foliage, sentient saplings and nurturing marine mammals. Those familiar with the artist's work will know what to expect, but for those who aren't, you'll meet some unusual creatures that blur the lines between human and beast. 

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  • Film
  • Outdoor cinema
  • Mount Martha

After a two-year hiatus, Barefoot Cinema is back to offer Victorians the chance to enjoy an array of films screened in gorgeous locations. This year, the cinema will take over three spectacular locations: Mount Martha, St Kilda and Werribee Park. Enjoy live music and lawn games before the film, and be sure to grab a drink from the Barefoot Bar. Tuck into delicious feeds from food trucks and stock up on tasty treats from the Candy Bar, or if you're not keen on the food options, you can also BYO dinner or order delivery to the venue from local restaurants.

  • Things to do
  • Food and drink
  • Red Hill South

Following the success of recent pop-ups, family-owned boutique winery Avani Wines has announced the return of its summer series. Head over to the idyllic surrounds of Red Hill in the Mornington Peninsula from January 7 to enjoy delicious vino paired with lunches curated by chef Harry Mangat of Biji Dining. The four-course set menu is $85 per person and diners get to experience dishes that reflect timeless Indian traditions while also championing native Australian bush foods.

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  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Southbank

Visitors to the NGV might notice something beautiful, almost interstellar, has transformed Federation Court (aka the gallery foyer) as part of the Bark Ladies: Eleven Artists from Yirrkala exhibition. This free showing puts the spotlight on artists featured in the NGV's significant collection of bark paintings and ḻarrakitj (hollow wooden poles that have been painted) from women artists associated with the Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, located roughly 700km east of Darwin.

  • Things to do
  • South Wharf

Melbourne Street Eatz has brought its food truck festival back to South Wharf for a sixth year. Expect to find a rotation of food trucks (think everything from tacos to pizza), two bars, DJs, games and live entertainment.Food is available to purchase directly from the food trucks, with drinks flowing from two bars. There’s also plenty of comfy daybeds to lounge on, and blankets will be available for hire if it gets chilly at night. 

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  • Things to do
  • Food and drink

Back for its second year, the Macedon Range's Summertime Fling is showcasing some of the Macedon Ranges juiciest drops in January 2022. The region will come alive with a jam-packed program featuring 40 events held at more than 12 wineries over four weekends. The program includes a Long Table at Lunch at Gisborne Peak, Pinot and Penne Puttanesca Special at Kyneton Ridge, Mangia Italiano at Hesket Estate and even Festa dell Éstate at Mount Towrong. 

  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Melbourne

We may be on the verge of further disruption to our lives, but sitting by the lake in the Botanic Gardens on a cool summer morning watching grown adults cavorting on the grass dressed as animals from a classic children’s book, you could be forgiven for thinking all was right with the world. Glenn Elston’s inimitable production of The Wind in the Willows, now in its 35th year, continues to delight and distract Melburnians young and old as only a shaggy, silly-as-a-wheel panto-style comedy can.

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  • Things to do
  • Port Melbourne

Enjoy the bright, blue ocean and fresh, white sand of Port Melbourne Beach with a little extra luxury once again this summer. The Exchange Hotel is setting up its pop-up beach club to make your trip to the seaside a little more interesting. The club runs from Saturday, November 6 to Sunday, January 30 and is open from noon to 9pm each day. It features live entertainment; beachside cabanas; daily pilates sessions by KX Pilates; bottomless brunches; plenty of snacks; spritzes and beer on tap, so you won’t run out of refreshments while you soak up the sunshine.

  • Things to do
  • Talks and discussions
  • Melbourne

From December 2, 2021, MPavilion is launching its eighth season. Spanning 152 days, the 2021 program has both an online and in-person program and features something for everyone. The 2021 digital program (launching November 23) might be the appetizer to the main event, but it will definitely get your mouth watering for what's to come. Themed 'Island Life', the digital program features a series of online talks including MTalks conversations with Naomi Milgrom AC, Grand Designs Australia host Peter Maddison and the pavilion's 2021 architects, MAP Studio, on their MPavilion design.

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  • Art
  • Design
  • Southbank

An exhibition of one of the world's most influential fashion designers will land in Melbourne this summer. Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto is the first exhibition in Australia to solely focus on the fashion contributions of 20th-century French designer Gabrielle (AKA Coco) Chanel.  The exhibition is coming to the NGV in partnership with Paris's leading fashion museum, the Palais Galliera, which launched this significant exhibition in autumn 2020. Melbourne will be the first city outside of France to host the exhibit.

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Melbourne

This summer, the Eynesbury Homestead is home to a host of free markets, festivals and foodie events. It's just forty minutes outside of the CBD, so if you've been on the lookout for city escapes or stopovers on your way out west, we've outlined the full program for you to peruse. Every day from November 27 until March 31, the homestead will be open for visitors to enjoy the on-site bar and fun takeaway food options. You can play volleyball on the giant beach set-up, watching summer sports in the beer garden or grabbing a seat and relaxing in the shade. 

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  • Things to do
  • Southbank

This January the NGV is staying open until 9pm Monday to Thursday for NGV Summer Nights. The event uses all four levels of the NGV international to host after-hours DJ sets, film screenings, bars and dining experiences, in addition to giving locals and tourists a few extra hours each day to check out the current exhibitions (such as Bark Ladies: Eleven Artists from Yirrkala and Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto). 

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