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The Wedding Singer
Photograph: Nicole Cleary

Things to do in Melbourne this weekend

Head out this weekend in Melbourne and enjoy all these activities and events

By Rebecca Russo, Nicola Dowse, Cassidy Knowlton and Rushani Epa
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Our city is slowly (and safely) returning to some semblance of normal, with plenty of events and exhibitions to get involved with. Having said that, these are strange times we find ourselves in and there have been some bumps along the way, so always check directly with the venue or event organiser before venturing out. And here's a list of things to do at home if you'd rather not venture out.

Rainy? Here are the best indoor activities for rainy days in Melbourne

Things to do in Melbourne this weekend

A woman with a red jumper, black skirt and long curly brown hair performs to a crowd in Bourke Street Mall.
Photograph: Tiffany Garvie

1. Barring Yanabul

Things to do

Melbourne will experience a “blak-out” on Saturday, May 8 as Yirramboi hosts a free city-wide celebration of Indigenous culture. "Barring Yanabul" means "we all walk the path" in Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung language and the overarching event features more than 40 free events spanning art, music, dance and theatre.

A woman dressed as a waitress stands on stage at the Athenaeum Theatre
Photograph: Supplied / Fuller PR

2. 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 2021, following sold-out performances in the UK and on Broadway.

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Render of Moama Lights projection
Photograph: Visit Victoria/Supplied

3. 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.

Press shot of The Merindas
Photograph: Supplied / Michelle Grace Hunter

4. Yirramboi After Dark

Music

After the huge day that is Barring Yanabul, keep enjoying Yirramboi at night with Yirramboi After Dark. This is sure to be one of the most dazzling events during Yirramboi, with an all-female line-up of musical artists set to hit Malthouse's Outdoor Stage. Bop along with the Merindas, Kee'ahn, Bumpy, and DJ Soju Gang on the night. The event also features First Nations cabaret stars Kamron Wahanui McKinnonDale Woodbridge-Brown and Lilikoi Kaos, plus ballroom group House of Alexander

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A plate of gnocchi with pesto
Photograph: Creative Commons

5. Gnocchi Festival

Things to do Food and drink The Ascot Lot, Ascot Vale

Gnocch, gnocch. Who's there? It's the Ascot Lot's second-ever Gnocchi Festival of course. The food truck park will transform into a potato dumpling haven with food trucks and stalls dishing out gnocchi by the plateful on Saturday, May 8 and on Mother's Day Sunday, May 9 and let's hope their puns aren't as bad as ours. 

Ringmaster
Photograph: Supplied

6. Showtime at Archie Bros Cirque Electriq

Things to do Fairs and festivals Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq, Docklands

Stilt-walkers, kaleidoscopic colours, glittering tarot card readers and suited-up magicians, all in one, fantastical, dizzyingly colourful set-up? That's right – the circus is back in town. On every second Saturday night of the month until mid-November, an immersive, circus-themed pop-up is set to bring a little escapist fantasy to Docklands, taking over the arcade game filled den of Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq.

 

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A woman with long dark hair tied in a high ponytail stands in front of colourful jewellery inside a white market tent. She is wearing a red and black ruffled blouse with a chunky belt and smiling.
Photograph: Tiffany Garvie

7. Blak Makers Market

Shopping Markets Malthouse Theatre, Southbank

Some of the most talented First Nations artisans, makers and creators are one show this May as part of the Blak Makers Market. The market is happening for one day only as part of Yirramboi festival and showcases fashion, jewellery, food and crafts from talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander makers. 

Many people sitting down in a bright space
Photograph: Supplied / The Craft and Co

8. Craft and Co Gin Market

Things to do Food and drink The Craft & Co, Collingwood

The team behind the wildly successful Christmas Gin Market are back – because gin really is best enjoyed all year round. The Craft and Co Gin Market returns this autumn for a four-day gin-stravaganza that connects local distillers and with Melbourne’s gin-thirsty residents. 

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A woman in a sparkly leotard waves ribbon enthusiastically through the air
Photograph: Brett Boardman

9. Fangirls

Theatre Musicals Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank

Fangirls, a new Australian musical by Yve Blake, is an ode to the agony and ecstasy of teen longing – the feeling of loving so much you might actually, literally, die. And what better lens to view this feeling through than a young woman's love for a boy band heartthrob? 

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie Rocky Road pack
Photograph: Supplied

10. Rocky Road Festival of Flavours

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. The chocolateries will be taking this old-time favourite treat to new rocky heights, reinventing the traditional mix of chocolate, nuts and marshmallows into a line-up of 31 different flavours.

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A woman wearing a white singlet, black wrist cuffs and a short spiky hair cut looms over a drum kit, mid performance
Photograph: David Hooley

11. Drummer Queens

Music

Hear that distant drumbeat? That's the sound of live musical performers, the Drummer Queens, pounding their way into Melbourne this autumn. The all-women percussion troupe brings together various styles of drumming for a commanding and theatrical performance. Think Tap Dogs or Stomp but led by eight amazing female drummers.

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

12. Mike Parr: Half Way House

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.

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A young woman and an elderly man sit facing the camera. An elderly woman stands behind resting her hand on the man's shoulder
Photograph: Supplied / Red Stitch

13. The Cane

Theatre Red Stitch Actors Theatre, St Kilda

It doesn't matter how old you are; everyone has experienced a moment of "back in my day". That is, someone senior to yourself informing you things were done differently, possibly in a way unconscionable to present times. It's these moments – the jarring standards of then and now – that are explored in The Cane. The Mark Ravenhill play (Shopping and FuckingSome Explicit Polaroids) revolves around teachers Maureen and Edward and their adult daughter Anna, plus an angry mob of school children. Red Stitch's Kirsten von Bibra-directed production stars Caroline Lee, Dion Mills and Jessica Clarke.

Yirramboi Festival
Photograph: Supplied/Candice Lorrae

14. Ngarngk; Giver of Life

Theatre Drama Multiple venues

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. 

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A woman with bright red nails and markings painted on her face and shoulders puts a feathered headband up to her forehead
Photograph: Yotography

15. Women's Healing Place

Things to do Classes and workshops Queen Victoria Women's Centre, Melbourne

Yirramboi festival is collaborating with Queen Victoria Women's Centre this May to host a series of talk, workshops and exhibitions. Women's Healing Place brings together four First Nations women to explore identity, culture, trauma, self-care and healing through mediums like visual arts, storytelling, yarning, song and movement. 

Gael García Bernal with scene-stealing newcomer Mariana Di Girolamo in Chilean film Ema
Photograph: Supplied

16. Spanish Film Festival

Film Film festivals Around Melbourne, Melbourne

The Spanish Film Festival is about to sashay into town once more, lighting up Melbourne’s Palace Cinemas with 20 features from across the length and breadth of Spain, plus Latin America, from April 22 until May 9.

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Yirramboi Festival 2021
Photograph: Supplied/Cecil Martin

17. Arterial

Theatre Circuses Meat Market, North Melbourne

This Yirramboi festival, Melbourne's own Na Djinang Circus is showing the connections between Country, culture and people through acrobatics and circus arts. In Arterial, audiences watch as four performers – Maggie Church-Kopp, Jada Narkle, Dylan Singh and the award-winning Harley Mann (who also directs the show) – weave an enchanting circus production exploring the link between First Nations people and the land. 

A man sits on a jungle gym in an industrial, heavily grafittied space. He looks down at a woman who is peering up at him.
Photograph: Pia Johnson

18. Because the Night

Theatre Malthouse Theatre, Southbank

After a year on pause, Malthouse is staying true to its experimental roots and relaunching with possibly the largest and most daring immersive theatre production to ever grace Australian stages. Because the Night is an immersive theatre experience where audiences can explore the massive, maze-like set while actors weave the narrative around them. Don't come expecting to sit down and watch actors on a stage – Because the Night unfolds all around you, with guests encouraged to explore every nook and cranny of the space.

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

19. 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.

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

20. 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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A man stands thinking under a streetlamp at night. Ghosts of other people are passing by.
Photograph: Connor Beaver

21. James Henry x Grand Organ: Madhanbaa Mayrraa

Music

Musician James Henry (Yuwaalaraay, Gamilaraay, Yorta Yorta and Yuin) is taking Town Hall's Grand Organ to new heights this May. As part of Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival, Henry is presenting Madhanbaa Mayrraa – an exploration of traditional-style songs in Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay languages, alongside the Grand Organ. 

An oil painting on men in a shearing shed. In the centre is a dark-haired man shearing a ram.
Photograph: National Gallery of Victoria

22. She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionism

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. Works featured in the exhibition include what are easily some of the most recognisable Australian paintings, including Tom Roberts' 'Shearing the Rams' and Jane Sutherland's 'Field naturalists'.

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

23. Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary

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. Bendigo Art Gallery pays tribute to the influential British designer with a new, exclusive exhibition, Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary.

Miffy illustration
Photograph: © Mercis by Amsterdam/Dick Bruna

24. Miffy and Friends

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. 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. Miffy and Friends will showcase original drawings and illustrations by Bruna as well as early book covers and posters of Miffy.

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Nicole Kidman retrospective
Photograph: Supplied

25. 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.

Big Weather - NGV Australia
Photograph: Supplied/NGV Austral

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

27. Mirka

Art Jewish Museum of Australia, St Kilda

There have been many exhibitions on French-born artist Mirka 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. 

Questacon "Born or Built - Our Robotic Future" - Friday, 31 May 2019
Photograph: Steve Keough

28. Born or Built? Our Robotic Future

Things to do Scienceworks, Spotswood

If you’ve ever watched the films Her or Ex Machina you’ll know how easily the lines between AI and humans can blur and how harrowing that can be. Scienceworks’ latest exhibition Born or Built? explores how sophisticated robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have become, how easily they can mimic human beings, and delves into the evolution of technology. 

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Photograph: Matt Murphy

29. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Theatre Drama Princess Theatre, Melbourne

The first rule of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is that you don’t talk about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Safeguarding spoilers is an expected responsibility for anyone who attends the Potter-verse’s first on-stage outing. There’s even a hashtag: #KeepTheSecrets. But in truth (as far as theatre critique is concerned, at least), JK Rowling needn’t have worried. This marathon, five-hour spectacle has a plot so dense and sprawling, so wonderfully, unashamedly elaborate, it would take many thousands of words more than any theatre review to even scratch the surface.

tommy wiseau, the room
Image: The Room

30. 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. First cab off the rank is ultimate terrible movie classic The Room.

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

31. Yhonnie Scarce: Missile Park

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. 

An installation featuring a room in disrepair. There is a table and two chairs plus a brick fireplace; on the wall behind the fireplace is  mural of a woman painted in green and blue
Photograph: Nicola Dowse

32. Rone in Geelong

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.

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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

33. 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.

Melbourne Music Week Extended
Photograph: Supplied / Melbourne Music Week

34. Melbourne Music Week Extended

Music Music festivals

Every year Melbourne Music Week explores the undercurrent of Melbourne’s vibrant local music scene in some of the city’s most forgotten corners. Usually, the "week" is more like ten days but in 2020 the event has really outdone itself in regards to stretching said week. Now, MMW will run all summer long to give Melburnians all the live gigs they've been missing (and to also allow for maximum events and artist opportunities while adhering to health restrictions). 

 

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Two rainbow coloured vaguely dog-shaped sculptures. Their "fur" is multicoloured tassels
Photograph: Supplied / Linden New Art

35. Troy Emery: Sonder

Art Sculpture and installations Linden New Art, St Kilda

Local artist Troy Emery's work often entails exploring animals and anthropomorphism while also playfully toying with colour, texture and materials. Sonder is no different. This exhibition at Linden New Art presents six new animalistic sculptures from the Melbourne-based artist. At once the sculptures are both faceless and foreboding, and candy-coloured and inviting; it's hard to know whether you should feel threatened or excited by sharing a room with them. 

 

Imaginaria immersive play
Photograph: Imaginaria/William Hamilton-Coates

36. 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, its a giant, glowing, otherworldy all-ages playground to explore. Imaginaria allows (let's be honest, event-starved) Melburnians to explore fantastic custom-built, interactive structures like a giant inflatable bubble, glowing light maze, and a "cosmic abyss". The whole installation features bespoke sound, light and even scents that are activated as guests explore the dreamscape.

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Becoming You: An Incomplete Guide exhibition at Immigration Museum Melbourne
Photograph: Tony Empire Collective

37. Becoming You: An Incomplete Guide

Museums History Immigration Museum, Melbourne

The glory and pain of our formative years never leave us. The awkwardness, the heartache, the moments of soaring joy and the losses that crushed us often feel as real as the day they happened. The Immigration Museum is now plumbing these universal experiences in an immersive exhibition that’ll have you feeling the entire spectrum of human emotion.

Screengrab from Isolation escape room
Photograph: Escape Room

38. Isolation

Things to do Your Place, Melbourne

Escape rooms are fast becoming one of Melbourne's favourite way to have fun, but it was not always thus. Psychologist Owen Spear and Ali Cheetham brought the concept to Melbourne after falling in love with escape rooms during a trip to Budapest. Their first Melbourne venue was at the bottom of Owen's mother's garden, and the South Melbourne incarnation features new fiendishly created rooms. The original Escape Room has also launched a very 2020 room, called, appropriately, Isolation.

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Frances McDormand in Fargo cop unifmorm, crouching in snow over a slumped body
Photograph: Supplied

39. Coen Brothers Retrospective

Film Multiple venues

The Coen Brothers really are the dream team, writing, producing, directing and often editing their own work, so it’s fantastic news that Melbourne's Classic and Lido cinemas are celebrating their canon with a jam-packed retrospective of their best work. The season, including all three movies listed above, runs on Thursday (Lido) and Friday (Classic) nights from February 4 until June 4.

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