Fun things to do this summer in Melbourne

Make the most of the warmer months with our list of festivals, parties, markets, exhibitions and more
Zoo Twilights
Photograph: Ian Laidlaw
By Time Out editors |

Once again, Australia’s cultural capital delivers a stellar city-wide line-up this summer. From live music at the zoo to late night art and sound installations across the city, there’s plenty to explore. For more fun in the sun, see our lists of the best rooftop bars in Melbourne and outdoor cinemas – and when it's seriously boiling, go for a swim in one of these beaches, pools or lakes.

How to have the best summer

Yarra River with skyline at Arbory Afloat
Bars, Cocktail bars

Have a bevvie at Arbory Afloat

icon-location-pin Arbory Bar and Eatery, Melbourne

Oh buoy! The team behind massive outdoor eatery and beer garden Arbory Bar and Eatery have brought back their famed floating bar and restaurant Arbory Afloat for summer. As well as boasting 360-degree views of the Yarra River and the CBD skyline, Arbory Afloat has an extensive cocktail list (think fruit-driven cocktails like Pomegranate Daquiris and Watermelon Sangria) and a Mediterranean-inspired wine list. Hungry? You can dig into fresh seafood including grilled southern calamari and eight different wood-fired pizzas.

People Partying at Nocturnal Melbourne Museum
Things to do, Food and drink

Dance and learn at Nocturnal

icon-location-pin Melbourne Museum, Carlton

Melbourne Museum's monthly event series transforms the museum into an after-hours adult playground where you can enjoy a rotating list of Melbourne's coolest bands and DJs as well as roving entertainment and access to the Museum's collections long after the last school group has left.

Queen Vic Night Market
Photograph: Ewen Bell
Things to do

Eat your way through the stalls at the Queen Vic Night Market

icon-location-pin Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

Spend your Wednesday nights surrounded by food, design stalls and entertainment for the 20th edition of Melbourne’s biggest market. More than 60 street food stalls will be serving delicious snacks like smoky American barbecue, bao and tasty toasted sandwiches.

Evita 2018 Opera Australia supplied image of Tina Arena 2014
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre, Musicals

See Tina Arena on stage as Evita

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank

Move over My Fair Lady: the next vintage production coming to Australia is the original Evita, with Australian pop princess Tina Arena starring as Eva Perón. Opera Australia and John Frost are collaborating to revive the 1978 West End production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster musical, directed by Tony Award-gobbling musical theatre veteran Harold Prince.

People walking around at South Melbourne Night Markets
Things to do, Markets

Party on at the South Melbourne Night Market

icon-location-pin South Melbourne Market, South Melbourne

The southside’s most popular night market is returning for its 10th year, turning Thursday evenings into the perfect opportunity to kick back with live music, design stalls and a revolving line-up of food trucks.

Midsumma Extravaganza
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Variety

Laugh your ass off at the Midsumma Extravaganza

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank

Some of comedy's hottest stars are going to be performing at Midsumma's night of nights, the Extravaganza. The night is hosted by comedy superstar Rhys Nicholson and will feature drag queen Trevor Ashley, Barry Award winner Zoe Coombs Marr, Take Me Out host and household name Joel Creasey, cabaret superstar Carlotta, GLOBE Artist of the Year Mama Alto and cabaret/circus/burlesque YUMMY.

Angelique Kerber of Germany takes on Serena Williams of the United States on day thirteen of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday, January 30, 2016.(Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia)
Photograph: Ben Solomon
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

See the tennis pros at the Australian Open

icon-location-pin Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne

Watch tennis greats battle it out on the court as Melbourne Park comes alive for two weeks in January. The adjacent Birrarung Marr will buzz with live entertainment and food stalls, where live screenings of matches will play on the big screens.

Moonlight Cinema Opening Night Melbourne
Photograph: Supplied
Film, Outdoor cinema

Catch a flick at Moonlight Cinema

icon-location-pin Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne

There's nothing quite like a film under the stars in the evening cool of the Botanic Gardens. Settle back with friends and family for a movie and BYO picnic on a balmy summer night, or let one of the food trucks take care of the edibles for you. This summer's programming has the usual mix of acclaimed Oscar hopefuls, kids' favourites and retro screenings to satisfy the nostalgic urges.

Zoo Twilights
Photograph: Ian Laidlaw
Music, Music festivals

See the bands and the animals at Zoo Twilights

icon-location-pin Melbourne Zoo, Parkville

We'd be lion if we said that Zoo Twilights wasn't our summer highlight. The concert series attracts some pretty big names in music with this year's line-up boasting the likes of Client Liason, Briggs and Archie Roach, Cat Power, Hanson, the Internet, Rufus Wainwright, Marlon Williams, Aloe Blacc, Sampa the Great and Remi, Daryl Braithwaite and Ross Wilson, Vera Blue and The Cat Empire. Topping the line-up, of course, are the Zoo's wild residents. All proceeds from the Zoo Twilights summer concert series will be going back towards the zoo's conservation work.

Something for Kate at the Hi Fi Bar, 1999
Photograph: Shellie Tonkin, Australian Performing Arts Collection
Museums, History

Deep dive through the Australian Music Vault

icon-location-pin Southbank

Fans of Australian music – the museum of your dreams is here. Arts Centre Melbourne's brand new exhibition space (opening December 19) will be an immersive trip through Aussie musical history, with recordings, images, instruments and memorabilia from luminaries like Archie Roach, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, Silverchair, AC/DC, John Farnham and many more. Stay tuned for more updates closer to opening.

Cool off at a rooftop bar

Too hot? Here's what to do

The bathing boxes at Brighton Beach
Flickr: Indigo Skies Photography
Things to do

Five ways to escape the heat in Melbourne

Sure, Melbourne's weather is typically unreliable, but when it's hot, it's hot. Don't hold out for the cool change or spend the day under the air conditioning unit – get out and explore the city's cooler spots.