50 Free Things To Do In Melbourne This Summer

Because having summer fun shouldn’t break the bank.

NEW YEAR’S EVE

1. DANCE AT FED SQUARE

No plans for New Year’s eve? Slip on some dancing shoes and dance your way into the New Year with live music, entertainment and an iconic spot to watch the fireworks. Federation Square will explore with music, including Latin beats, salsa, funk, hip hop, Caribbean spice and new-school dance battles. Just leave the dab at home though.

December 31, 8pm – late. Federation Square, Melbourne.
fedsquare.com

2. FOOTSCRAY PARK FIREWORKS

Footscray Park is home to the second largest New Year’s Eve event in Victoria outside the Melbourne CBD. Thousands of revelers descend on the banks of the Maribyrnong River for musical entertainment and food trucks ahead of the New Year. This event is family friendly and alcohol free. Due to the fireworks, it’s recommended that dog owners leave their pets at home.

December 31, 6.30pm – 10.30pm. Footscray Park, Footscray.
maribyrnong.vic.gov.au

AUSTRALIA DAY

3. GOVERNMENT HOUSE

It’s a little known fact that the Governor of Victoria opens the doors of Government House to the public each Australia Day. Visitors can view the state and private apartments and the governor’s study, or pack a basket and enjoy a picnic on the lawns. Live entertainment is provided throughout the day.

January 26, 9.30am – 4.30pm. Government House Drive, Melbourne, last tour entry 3pm.
governor.vic.gov.au

4. FLAG RAISING CEREMONY

Marking the official commencement of Australia Day celebrations, the Flag Raising Ceremony includes the Tri-Service Royal Guard of Honour, the Australia Day Affirmation and the singing of the national anthem.

January 26, 10.30am – 11am. Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne.
australiaday.vic.gov.au

5. AUSTRALIA DAY PARADE

Thousands of people will be lining Swanston Street to witness the Australia Day Parade, which is held immediately after the Flag Raising Ceremony. The colourful parade is a celebration of our nation’s diverse community.

January 26, 11am – 11.45am. Swanston Street, Melbourne.
australiaday.vic.gov.au

6. RACV AUSTRALIA DAY FESTIVAL

Following the Australia Day Parade, there will be free family activities, displays from community groups and a showcase of classic cars (the ones you normally see parked on Federation Square) in the Kings Domain. A ethnically diverse food truck rally will be on site to keep families well fed.

January 26, 11am – 4pm. Kings Domain, Melbourne.
australiaday.vic.gov.au

7. THE COMMON MAN

Sunshine and a spot by the water sounds like a classic way to spend Australia Day. The Common Man will be transforming its riverside space into a chilled-out beer garden where you can grab a pint and listen to Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown. There will also be activities for families with face painting for kids and child at heart.

January 26, Noon – late. Common Man, 39 Dukes Walk, South Wharf.
thecommonman.com.au

The Common Man. Photo supplied.

8. DOCKLANDS

The Great Australian BBQ Food Truck Festival will be on in Docklands, with a program of roaming artists and other entertainment provided. Cap the day off with a fireworks display in the evening.

January 26, 6pm – 10.30pm. Docklands Park, Docklands.
australiaday.vic.gov.au

CHINESE NEW YEAR

9. DRAGON’S AWAKENING CEREMONY

2017 will be the Year of the Rooser and to kick off celebrations there will be a roaming Chinese dragon, street performers and cultural activities filling the streets of Chinatown.

January 28, 10am-10pm. The ceremony starts in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. chinesenewyear.com.au

ART & MARKETS

10. WHO’S AFRAID OF COLOUR

Featuring over 200 contemporary artworks by Indigenous Australian women, “Who’s Afraid Of Colour” encompasses works that cut across a variety of artistic disciplines, from customary weaves to bark paintings and modern digital works.

December 16 – April 17, 10am – 5pm daily. Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne.
ngv.vic.gov.au

11. BLENDER LANE ARTISTS MARKET

One of the CBD’s most vibrant laneways will be holding a market showcasing art, illustration, craft, design, textile and jewellery. Uncover some unique gifts for that special someone (or yourself), sample some delicious treats, chill out to some live music or take part in one of the weekly workshops.

Wednesday nights until March 1 (except December 28 and January 4), 5pm – 10pm. Blender Lane, 110 Franklin Street, Melbourne.
theblenderstudios.com

12. ITALIAN JEWELS: BULGARI STYLE

Think Bulgari and your thoughts probably turn to the smoky eyes, clean lines and refined elegance of 1960s Italian glamour. Showcasing the longstanding relationship between Bulgari, Rome and Hollywood cinema, the NGV exhibition features spectacular jewels from the personal collections of Elizabeth Taylor and Gina Lollobrigida.

Until January 29, Mon – Sat, 10am – 5pm. NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
ngv.vic.gov.au

Bulgari style brought to life at the NGV. Photo supplied.

13. COLOUR INK CULTIVATION

Cam Sieu Ha’s paintings have been showcased in major destinations such as China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the USA. This fundraising exhibition will showcase more than 40 recent paintings and calligraphy works, highlighting natural beauty and Buddhist principles.

Until February 3, Mon – Sat, 10am – 4pm. (Closed from Dec 24, reopens Jan 3). Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery, 141 Queen Street, Melbourne.

14. KYLIE ON STAGE

Feathers, diamonds and sequins – oh my! Drawn from Kylie’s spectacular stage wardrobe, this exhibition at the Arts Centre features costumes from tours dating back to 1989. See designer outfits from Dolce & Gabbana, John Galliano, Julien Macdonald, Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Until January 21, Mon – Sun, 9am – late. Gallery 1, Theatres Building, Arts Centre Melbourne.
artscentremelbourne.com.au

15. ONEIROI

This exhibition is a photographic installation by Bill Henson, one of Australia’s leading artists. Permanently housed at the Hellenic Museum, Oneiroi covers over 8,000 years of Greek history and comprises pieces of important cultural significance.

Until April 8, 2018. Tue – Sun, 10am – 4pm. Hellenic Museum, Melbourne.
hellenic.org.au

16. WILD COLONIAL BOYS

Ever wondered what life was like for the Kelly Gang and some of Australia’s other colonial legends? The Old Treasury Building will be delving into the stories of the early Victorian frontier and exploring the lives of the Plenty Gang, the St Kilda Gang and Victoria’s most famous bushranger Ned Kelly. Also learn about other less infamous ‘wild colonial boys’ who roamed Victoria’s bushlands.

Until November 2017, Mon – Fri (& Sun), 10am – 4pm. Old Treasury Building, East Melbourne.
oldtreasurybuilding.org.au

17. ON AIR: 40 YEARS OF 3RRR

Celebrating 40 years of Melbourne independent radio is the first-ever exhibition showcasing Triple R – Australia’s largest and most successful community station. The display covers the station’s evolution from an educational broadcaster at RMIT University to a station with 440,000 listeners and its own premises in Brunswick.

Until January 29, Mon – Sun, 10am – 5pm. State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.
slv.vic.gov.au

18. PIMM’S GARDEN AT BEARBRASS

BearBrass will be serving refreshing jugs and even popsicles featuring one of the world’s most popular beverages since 1823. Garden-goers can enjoy a Pimm’s Cup after work or on a Sunday afternoon while enjoying the beautiful city views.

Until January 9, BearBrass, Southgate, Southbank.
bearbrass.com.au

Pimm's Garden pop up at Bearbrass. Photo supplied.

19. LILLET SECRET GARDEN POP UP BAR

With a stunning backdrop of the Yarra River and city skyline, the Common Lawn will be transformed into a secret garden pop-up bar complete with white picket fence, floral french-chic trimmings, a Petanque playing field and a swing, while offering an array of fruity Lillet cocktails.

December 19 – February 28, Mon – Sun, noon – late. Common Man, South Wharf.
thecommonman.com.au

20. POP-UP BAR: ON AIR

Join the party at the State Library’s pop-up bar during the On Air: 40 Years of 3RRR exhibition. Some of Triple R’s best DJs will be on the decks and punters will be able to browse Readings’ exclusive vinyl offerings. The exhibition will open up extra late as part of the event.

January 13 & 20, 7pm – 10pm. State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.
slv.vic.gov.au

21. ANGUS AND CELESTE CERAMICS STORE POP UP

Found at Queen Victoria Market, Angus & Celeste are known for having a modern perspective on ceramic design. Check out their new range and perhaps overhaul your home as part of the New Year.

Until February 5, Tue, Thu, Fri & Sat, 9am – 3.30pm & Sun 8.45am – 4.45pm. Angus and Celeste Pop Up Store, 141 Therry Street, Melbourne.
angusandceleste.com

22. ST KILDA TWILIGHT MARKET

Each Thursday evening throughout summer, the O’Donnell Gardens will come alive with the sounds of the St Kilda Twilight Market. The market brings together an array of artworks, vintage wear, craft, fashion and jewellery, and foods from around the world.

Until February 16, Thursdays 5pm – 10pm. O’Donnell Gardens, St Kilda.
stkildatwilightmarket.com

23. SOUTH MELBOURNE NIGHT MARKET

The night market will be returning to the streets of South Melbourne in early January. For eight weeks, the city’s oldest market will transform into a magical night market with street food, market stalls and free entertainment and music.

January 5 – February 23, Thursdays 5.30pm. Corner of Cecil and Coventry streets, South Melbourne. southmelbournenightmarket.com.au

24. QVM SUMMER NIGHT MARKET

A summer classic, Queen Victoria market is home to Melbourne’s biggest night market. With a curated selection of global street food, free live music, roving entertainers, specialty and vintage shopping, this is the ideal spot to spend a balmy summer evening.

Until March 8 (excluding December 28), Wednesdays 5pm-10pm. Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne.
thenightmarket.com.au

The Queen Victoria Night Market. Photo supplied.

25. THINKERS AND MAKERS MARKET

Showcasing some of Brunswick’s best art, live music, plants, furniture and food. Grab a coffee and have a browse, or have a chat with the creators about their one-of-a-kind produce.

January 28 & February 25, 9am – 2pm. 35 Colebrook Street, Brunswick.

26. THE COMMUNITY GROCER CARLTON

With an impressive variety of fruit and vegetables at affordable prices, you’re sure to source some delicious organic ingredients for your next barbecue. If meat is not your thing, there’s also a free vegetarian BBQ lunch and food relief from Secondbite. All profits raised from the market are returned to the community.

Fridays, 9.30am – 12.30pm. 510 Lygon Street, Carlton.
thecommunitygrocer.com.au

27. TAI CHI

Start the week feeling refreshed and energised with Tai Chi, the Chinese martial art that helps promote health and relaxation. Expert instructors from Tai Chi Australia will be holding a free class every Tuesday morning at Fed Square.

January 5 – December 27, 2017, Tuesdays 7.30am – 8.30am. Federation Square, corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, Melbourne.
fedsquare.com/events/tai-chi

28. PENGUINS

Most Melbournians don’t know that there’s a little penguin colony living right under our nose. The nest established itself on the St Kilda breakwater in the 1970s and has been fixture of the area ever since. The penguins come in every night of the year, but summer is the best time to see them. Be patient and respect the penguin’s habitats while you’re there.

Volunteer guides on site during daylight savings.
stkildapenguins.com.au

29. MPAVILION

An event hub, a meeting place and an invitation to experiment, the spectacular MPavilion brings together collaborators from around the country to present a free, four-month program of talks, workshops, performances and installations. Check out the website for the full list of events.

Until February 18, all day (closed New Year’s Day). Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne. mpavilion.org

Queen Victoria Gardens' MPavilion. Photo supplied.

30. BOOK CHAT: FEEL-GOOD SUMMER READS

What’s the difference between a traditional book club and a book chat? A book chat is a more relaxed affair, where participants chat about the books you’re reading or have read. Share your reading experiences with library staff and community members over some light refreshments. New participants are welcomed.

February 15, 11.30am – 12.30pm. Phoenix Park Library, Malvern East.
stonnington.vic.gov.au

31. MORNING RITUAL

Start your day with a morning ceremony: place a gold leaf on MPavilion’s central bamboo structure. In India, it’s a common custom for visitors to special sites to make an offer of gold as an omen of prosperity. Enjoy a complimentary cup of T2 tea after your offering.

Until February 18, 10.30am daily. MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne.
mpavilion.org

32. IYENGAR YOGA

Clifton Hill Yoga Studio specialises in Iyengar Yoga, a form of hatha yoga with an emphasis on alignment and precision in each posture. Free Tuesday classes are open to adults of all ages, and people at all stages of their yoga practice.

Tuesdays, 2.30 – 3.45pm, Clifton Hill Yoga Studio, Clifton Hill.
iyoga.com.au

PARTY TIME

33. FED SQUARE LIVE

Fed Square Live features some of Melbourne’s most talented and emerging artists. Melbourne music lovers are invited to pull up a deck chair, slip on their dancing shoes or just settle down in one of Fed Square’s restaurants and bars.

Selected Thursdays until February 16, 2017, 5.30pm – 7.30pm. Federation Square, corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, Melbourne.
fedsquare.com

34. ASSEMBLE PAPERS PRESENTS ‘EARS’: CHELA + MILLÚ

Assemble Papers’ Ears mixtape series comes to life under the MPavilion roof. Join Melbourne-via-California musician Chela as she plays a special sunset DJ set in the leafy surrounds of the Queen Victoria Gardens.

December 16, 6pm – 9pm. MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne.
mpavilion.org

35. CIRCLE OF FUNK

As part of Mapping Melbourne 2016, Circle of Funk brings together the local street dance community and the Foreign Brother’s eclectic rhythm section, The CoreTet, for a dance event through the eras of the jazz, funk and hip hop.

December 17, 7.30pm – 11pm. The Toff In Town, Melbourne.
multiculturalarts.com.au

Circle of Funk. Photo supplied.

36. SUNSET SOUNDS

The beautiful parks and gardens of Stonnington will come alive in summer with the sound of music. The music concerts will combine some of Australia’s best musical talent with food from some of Melbourne’s favourite food trucks, with acts like Deborah Conway, Fem and The Hep and Cookin’ On 3 Burners all making appearances.

January 8, 15 & 22, 6pm. Victoria Gardens, Prahran, Central Park, Malvern East & Malvern Gardens. stonnington.vic.gov.au

37. ASIA POP COURTYARD CANTINA

The Immigration Museum’s reliable courtyard pop up sessions will be making a return this summer with a fusion of Asia Pop on Friday evenings. Featuring K-pop and J-pop DJs, performances and food, have a drink with friends and experience the phenomenon of Asia Pop.

February 3-24, Fridays 5pm – 9pm. Immigration Museum, 400-424 Flinders Street, Melbourne. Courtyard entry is free. Nights include $7 entry to the museum.
museumvictoria.com.au

38. CHINESE SQUARE DANCING

Tracing its roots in ancient history, China’s square dancing has been developing for over millennia. Suitable for all ages, join Chinese Square Dancers for a participative group lesson and interactive dance routine.

February 25, 11am – noon. Melbourne Museum, Carlton.
museumvictoria.com.au

39. LIVE JAZZ SUNDAYS

Enjoy free live jazz on Sundays at the Bohemian. Relax with a drink in hand and sample traditional Spanish cuisine, from classic paella and tapas to their selection of delicious cured meats.

Sundays until February 28, 2pm – 5pm. The Bohemian, South Wharf.
thebohemian.com.au

40. MUNDO LINGO

Ever wanted to learn a new language or practice one you’ve become rusty with? Mundo Lingo is the chance to test your language skills in a series of culture exchanges. The free get-together has participants wearing sticker flags representing the language you can speak and any language you want to learn. There are over 350 participants from every corner of the globe so come along and learn something new.

Until December 28, Wednesdays, 6pm – late. European Bier Cafe, Melbourne.
mundolingo.org/melbourne

GET OUTDOORS

41. FITZROY GARDENS

With its 1930s conservatory, Pavilion Cafe, Cooks’ Cottage, miniature Tudor Village, carved Fairies Tree, monumental fountains, sculptures and tree-lined paths, Fitzroy Gardens is an enchanting inner-city oasis.

Open daily. A free guided walking tour departs Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre, Wellington Parade, East Melbourne, every Saturday at 10am.
fitzroygardens.com

42. BUBBLE SOCCER WORLD CUP

As hilarious to watch as it is competitive, the Bubble Soccer World Cup will have ten nations competing in a round-robin competition. There will be live music, food trucks, ice cream vans, free access to bubble soccer, human foosball and soapy soccer activities for kids and parents to enjoy.

February 4, all day. Birrarung Marr, Batman Avenue, Melbourne.
corporatebubblesoccer.com.au

Hilarious fun times at the Bubble Soccer World Cup. Photo supplied.

FESTIVALS

43. MIDSUMMA

Part free carnival, T Dance and Pride March, the three-week Midsumma Festival also includes cabaret, film, live music, theatre, visual art, sport and forums. See the fabulous lineup on the Midsumma website.

January 15 – February 5, 2017. Various locations around Melbourne.
midsumma.org.au

44. MELBOURNE LATIN SUMMER FESTIVAL

With performances and parades inspired by iconic Latin carnivals, the Latin Summer Festival is your chance to see music styles such as samba, tango, salsa, reggaeton, cumbia and bachata played by guest Latin DJs and musicians. Food vendors will on hand to serve up a wide range of Latin street dishes and cocktails.

January 7, noon – 1am. Kings Domain, Melbourne.
melbournelatinsummerfestival.com

45. SUSTAINABLE LIVING FESTIVAL

Discover how to live cleaner, smarter and healthier in 2017 by delving into the festival’s huge program of art, film, performance, forums and exhibits. With hundreds of events staged across the city, the festival showcases leading solutions to environmental issues.

February 4-28. Various venues around Melbourne. Find out more on their website.
slf.org.au

46. YALUKIT WILUM NGARGEE

The prelude to the St Kilda Festival, this musical celebration serves as a welcome to country ahead of the six-day Live N Local program, with performances from established and up-and-coming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians.

February 6, all day, O’Donnell Gardens, The Esplanade, St Kilda.
stkildafestival.com.au

47. ST KILDA FESTIVAL

The streets of St Kilda are closed to traffic for Australia’s iconic St Kilda Festival. Some of the country’s best musicians will play over multiple stages on the foreshore. Plus there are also workshops, fantastic food vendors, kids entertainment, sport, dance, and carnival rides to enjoy.

February 12. 11am – 10pm. St Kilda foreshore.
stkildafestival.com.au

St Kilda Festival. Photo: Nathan Doran Photography.

48. MELBOURNE JAPANESE SUMMER FESTIVAL

The River Terrace of Federation Square will host vendors selling Japanese street food and crafts, plus there will be captivating cultural performances from a new generation of young performers. There will also be prizes for best dressed and business class tickets to Japan to be won.

February 25, noon – 6pm. Federation Square, corner of Swanston & Flinders streets, Melbourne. Inquiries: 9642 2120 or jcjsm.org.au/fest

49. LANKAN FEST

Celebrate the rich culture and heritage of Sri Lanka at this festival hosting over 40 different stalls selling a variety of Sri Lankan food, arts, crafts, spices, tea, tourism and other produce. Be entertained with live Sri Lankan music, song and dance that celebrates all the different ethnicities within Sri Lanka.

February 26, 9am – 7pm. Crown Entertainment Complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank. Inquiries: 0433 831 175 or lankanfest.com.au

50. MOONEE VALLEY FESTIVAL

To mark 40 years of the festival, the free community celebration will be a fun summer day full of excitement, with market and food stalls, roving performers, live entertainment, business expo, community activities and displays.

February 26, 10am – 5pm. Queen’s Park, Moonee Ponds. Inquiries: 9243 8888 or mvcc.vic.gov.au

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