Saddle up – a host of major festivals are about to sweep through the city, including the year’s biggest food and wine, fashion and comedy festivals. That means there are amazing events on every single night of the week. We've whittled down the best things to do in Melbourne to ensure this month's social calendar is jam-packed and filled with fun. You'll be feasting, dancing and laughing all the way through till April.
THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
This new NGV exhibition explores the exciting art and design of early 20th century Japan. As the country developed a lively consumer culture and felt the influence of new technologies from abroad, traditional aesthetics interacted with European culture to create a novel era of Japanese modernism and Asian Art Deco. The gallery has acquired rare large-scale paintings produced with the refined techniques of traditional ukiyo-e, plus fashions from the era and beautifully crafted interior wares.
180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
It’s tongs at the ready for this year’s Meatstock as 50 teams of American barbecue experts compete for smoky glory. They’ll be firing up some of the best brisket, ribs and links you’ll ever taste, with a number of big name pitmasters flying in from the US. For those looking for home inspiration, there’ll be masterclasses and expos, while for the rest of us lazy carnivores there’s cold beer, live bands and a “sausage-sizzle throwdown”.
Saturday 14th March & Sunday 15th March from 11am
Melbourne Showgrounds, Epsom Rd, Ascot Vale
If you’ve got an eye for style and a spiralling dessert addiction that, you’ll love this fashion week collab at the Langham. The luxury hotel’s patissière has created a number of showstopping couture-inspired cakes that are almost too pretty to eat. In addition to all the usual scones, sandwiches and savouries you’ll dip your spoon into a ruby red chocolate ‘handbag’ with blueberry ganache and a chocolate tulip with cassis mousse.
14th & 15th March 11.30am-4.30pm
1 Southgate Ave, Southbank
Bring a crowd to celebrate the fifth birthday of everyone’s favourite laid-back tavern this Saturday, kicking off with a doggy disco from 2pm (and two-for-one beers for pet parents), happy hour at 2015 prices (including $10 Lulie margs), and then an epic line-up of DJs that’ll have you rock’n’roll disco boogieing late into the night.
Sunday 16th June 12pm-4pm
225 Johnston St, Abbotsford
Back in Melbourne for a limited run, this hit musical adaptation builds on the magic of the original movie with captivating theatrics combined with raw emotion.Set in a northern English town during the miners’ strike of 1984, the show follows Billy’s journey from boxing ring to ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that unites his family, inspires his community and changes his life forever.
Until 19th April
Tickets from $109
191 Collins St, Melbourne
TRAVEL: Experience the Adelaide Fringe Festival from the Johnnie Walker Highball Bar
Taking the infamous Adelaide Fringe Festival to new heights, Johnnie Walker have launched a new rooftop bar experience for festival-goers this year. Located in the buzzing Gluttony district, the sky-high Johnnie Walker Highball Bar will be serving up four low-alcohol highballs, alongside a spiced-popcorn snack created by Africola’s Duncan Welgemoed.
Fringe-goers can take in the stellar views from the pop-up rooftop while sipping their way through the tasty Johnnie-infused offerings – from the citrusy lemon and blood orange varietals, to the spicy ginger and refreshing crisp apple pours ($10 each). For just $2 more, guests can enjoy the ‘Johnnie Walker x Africola Popcorn Combo’– which includes any Johnnie Walker Highball serve paired with the delicious spiced popcorn from the lauded South Australian restaurant.
14th February-15th March
Johnnie Walker Highballs- $10
Johnnie Walker x Africola Popcorn Combo- $12
Adelaide Fringe Festival, Gluttony, Rymill Park
THINGS TO DO THIS MONTH
FASHION FORWARD: Double Adapter
Curated as part of Melbourne Design Week, this group exhibition at MARS Gallery focussing on wearable sculpture examines the modern desire for new products set against inbuilt obsolescence in technology and fashion. See thought provoking works by artists Isabel Avendano-Hazbun, Xanthe Dobbie, and John Gosper that question the relationship between value-signalling, branding, ethical design and sustainability.
4th-21st March (Tuesday-Saturdays, 10am-5pm)
7 James St, Windsor
Top chefs, wineries and artisan makers from across Australia and the world are convening in Melbourne to bring you unforgettable drinking and dining experiences. More than 100 events will help you nourish both your stomach and mind as you explore the possibilities of food. Highlights include guest dinners by cookbook author and New York Times columnist Alison Roman and Israeli celeb chef Eyal Shani, plus street food crawls, snack fairs and the World’s Longest Lunch, where 1600 diners will enjoy on a three-course feast in Treasury Gardens.
SLAPPIN' 'DA BASS: Port Phillip Mussel and Jazz Festival
Chalk it up as one very tasteful weekend at this seafood and jazz street party held over the Labour Day long weekend. South Melbourne Market’s vendors will be plating up their best seafood dishes while top jazz bands claim the stage. Picture downing sangria and piping hot mussel paella or craft beer and wok-cooked drunken mussels as you tap your toes to La Nuit Blanche and JAzmarisor New Orleans-style brass band Horns of Leroy... could anything be better?
Saturday 7th March 12pm-10pm & Sunday 8th March 12pm-8pm
Corner of Coventry Street and Cecil street, South Melbourne
PLANT POWER: Vegan Week at Rice Paper Scissors
Mod-Asian hotspot Rice Paper Scissors is going completely plant-based for an entire week, aiming to open minds and satisfy stomachs by serving only vegan dishes, cocktails and wines, and even going so far as to create new versions of its famous sticky pork belly and a Vietnamese espresso martini.
19 Liverpool Street, Melbourne
HOT CHIP: Maximum Chips
Every big night out should at some point involve a greasy bag of hot chips. If you’re of the same thinking, hop to this zany Melbourne Food and Wine Festival party celebrating the humble chip in all its forms. Your ticket includes a drink on entry and all the chips you can care to eat, from shoestring and crinkle cut to French fries and maybe even a sneaky wedge. There’ll also be condiments of every description, entertainment and a guaranteed finger-licking good time.
Friday 20th March 5pm-10pm
Shed X at Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
FLAVOUR FEST: Pilgrim X Herbivorous Nights: Caminode Santiago
Chef Anthony Power of UK restaurant Pilgrim is dropping by Young Bloods Diner to cook a special seven-course tasting menu that follows the Camino Roma, an ancient pilgrimage that passes through Italy, France and Spain. Diners will be taken on a gastronomic journey that features the diverse flavours, ingredients and dishes found along this path, matched with cocktails by former Lûmé and Eau de Vie bartender Orlando Marzo.
60 Rose Street, Fitzroy
PASTA PARTY: The Big Spaghetti
Fancy restaurant pasta meets hawker market vibes at this deliciously fun festival devoted to Italy’s beloved staple. Top restaurants from across the nation including Tipo 00, CicciaBella, Marameo and Trattoria Emilia will be dishing up their sauciest pastas in street-fair style, while live music brings the party vibe and special guests Matt Preston and Sam Pang demonstrate how to make the perfect Bolognese.
Saturday 28th March 11am-8pm
Shed X at Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
ULTIMATE CHEESE: Trivia and $1 Toasties at George’sBar
Break up the week with rounds of raucous trivia at Fitzroy’s fave George Costanza-themed bar. It’s a pocket-friendly evening of entertainment, too – not only is trivia free to play, but the team is slinging $1 cheese toasties to get your brain juices flowing. The winning team each week scores a place in the grand final on March 26th, where the prize up for grabs will be an as-yet unspecified “jackpot of epic proportions”.
120 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
TIME FOR TEA: Four Pillars Seafood High Tea at The Westin
Ahoy, deliciousness! The Westin takes the themed high tea concept to new waters with a gin-inspired, all-seafood menu that swaps sandwiches and quiche for oysters, yabby toast and smoked cod croquettes. Most dishes incorporate Four Pillars gin, for example in creative condiments like Bloody Shiraz gin-infused sweet chilli sauce and gin mustard glaze. Staying on theme, the meal is paired with gin cocktails, while dessert is a honey and oat ice cream sandwich dipped in gin and orange marmalade.
Saturdays and Sundays 11am-4pm
205 Collins St, Melbourne
SPICE IT UP: All-You-Can-Eat Vegan at Horn Please
Whether or not you’re a plant-based diner, you’ll want to book into this bonza all-you-can-eat vegan feast at Horn Please where, for just $20, you’ll get an unlimited fill of six curries, rice and dahl. The selection changes each week, but you’re bound to see favourites including chana masala, eggplant curry, spinach fritters and General Tso’s cauliflower.
Sundays from 6pm
167 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North
FOOD HEAVEN: Queen Victoria Summer Night Market
Catch the final weeks of Queen Vic’s perennially popular night market, where you’ll find dozens of food stalls plus bars, games and live music. Drop by after work and eat your way around the world, from 400 Gradi pizza and Polish pierogi to Hawaiian shaved ice and Portuguese custard tarts. In between, stay refreshed with gin cocktails and challenge your friends on the pop-up volleyball court.
Wednesday 4th March & Wednesday 11th March 5pm-10pm
Corner of Elizabeth Street and Victoria Street, Melbourne
Richmond's Baby Pizza is running Aperitivo every day of the week, with $5.50 Aperol Spritz, Select Spritz and Rosé. Baby never do drinks without delicious food, so sink into Aperitivo with the Baby Mozzarella menu featuring a dedicated cheese-only section including handmade fior di latte, buffalo mozzarella, smoked burrata and more.
Every day, 3pm-6pm
631-633 Church Street, Richmond
A FEAST OF THE SENSES: Nocturnal x Melbourne Fashion Festival
Melbourne Museum’s after-dark, adults-only party is back for a special Fashion Festival edition this month. Sip on wine, watch fashion films and hear experts present prim and punk designs from the archives. Then it’s free rein as you dance the night away to sets from Banoffee, Rainbow Chan, Mo'Ju and more.
Friday 5th March 7pm-11pm
Tickets $27 ($37 at the door)
11 Nicholson Street, Carlton
DANCE OFF: Duke Street Block Party
After a ragingly successful debut in 2019, the Duke Street Block Party is back. Duke Street, Bond Street and Southampton Crescent in Abbotsford will be closed off for an epic 10-hour line-up of local and international DJs including Detroit legend Theo Parrish, Jamaican dancehall star Sister Nancy and local faves Mwanjé and Wax'o Paradiso. Keeping you watered will be local legend Moon Dog Brewery.
Saturday 28th March 12pm-10pm
Duke Street, Abbotsford
FEEL-GOOD BEATS: Lenka
Since releasing her whimsical 2008 hit ‘The Show’, Australian singer-songwriter Lenka has kept busy releasing albums and touring her gentle folk-pop around the world. In this new solo show she’ll play old favourites as well as fresh songs and covers, so you can expect to hear ‘Trouble is a Friend’, ‘Everything at Once’ and more in an evening of bouncy, upbeat music that’ll leave you smiling from ear to ear.
Friday 6th March 7pm
The Toff in Town, 2/252 Swanston Street, Melbourne
IN VOGUE: Plaza Block Party
The Royal Exhibition Building’s plaza is lighting up for one epic block party this Melbourne Fashion Festival. Dance away to a DJ line-up that includes Minorfauna, Tobi and DJ Aflex in between pop-up runways and fashion films, as well as workshops teaching everything from fashion illustration to making your own cake-shaped party hat.
Saturday 14th March 12pm-5.30pm
Free entry (workshops ticketed)
9 Nicholson Street, Carlton
MUSIC MAYHEM: Brunswick Music Festival
Australia’s longest-running Inner-City music festival is also one of its biggest and most genre-diverse. This year the program, kicks off with the beloved Sydney Road Street Party on 1st March before launching into two weeks of local and international acts, talks and parties. The jam-packed line-up includes names such as Cry Club, Mama Kin Spender, the Blind Boys of Alabama and C.W. Stoneking.
Ballet meets The White Stripes and pointes meet polka dots in this electrifying, modern collaboration by Britain’s leading choreographer Wayne McGregor and Australian rising star Alice Topp. The three-part show will feature McGregor’s signature punk-inflected twitches, warp-speed leaps and hyper-stretched lines before Topp presents a work about armouring ourselves against modern demons, be they predators, pressures, climate or ourselves.
Tickets from $38
100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
COMEDY GEM: Emerald City
The Melbourne-Sydney dynamic is keenly captured in Emerald City, David Williamson’s timeless comedy that’s part love-letter, part hate-mail to the harbour capital. The playwright’s wisecracking commentary on contemporary values and modern materialism is conveyed through the story of Colin, a Melburnian screenwriter who moves to Sydney with his author wife Kate. Both grapple with choices between art, commerce, fame and fortune amidst the “sinkhole of ambition and superficiality” that is their new home.
6th March-18th April
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
MOVING DRAMA: Saigon
Swinging between 1956 Saigon –as the French colonialists leave Vietnam –and 1996 Paris – when Vietnamese exiles start returning to their homeland –this moving family saga is both epic in scale and heart-rending in intimacy. Staged within a restaurant, Saigon’s 11 characters tell of lives uprooted and homes remade, paths racing across history and place in a compelling drama of love, loss and reunion.
Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
VIRTUAL REALITY: Feedback Loops
Inspired by web and new media aesthetics, the artists in ACCA’s summer exhibition Feedback Loopsre-create characters from their past and present in order to imagine the future. You’ll see works that are in equal measure unsettling, absurd, fantastical and joyous, expressed via everything from gaming software and CGI to the ripping and rehashing of internet content.
Until 22nd March
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, 111 Sturt Street, Southbank
FILM DU JOUR: Alliance Française French Film Festival
Join your fellow cinephiles and Francophiles for this annual celebration of France’s best new cinema. For the 31st edition of the festival, the wide-ranging program includes heartwarming comedy The Extraordinary (from the makers of The Intouchables), fashion doco House of Cardinand fresh work from Marion Cotillard, Juliette Binoche, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve.
11th March - 8th April
CELEBRATE PRIDE: Melbourne Queer Film Festival
Melbourne is home to the largest queer film festival in the Southern Hemisphere, now in its 30th year. The upcoming program is bursting with features, shorts and documentaries that celebrate LGBTQI stories of all colours. Films will be shown at Village Cinemas Jam Factory, The Capitol Theatre and Cinema Nova, with picks including Chelsea Manning documentary XY ChelseaandChilean romantic drama The Strong Ones plus Q&A sessions, workshops and parties.
ALFRESCO FUN: Moonlight Cinema
Nothing says relaxation like a picnic rug, bottle of red and outdoor movie – and with the return of Moonlight Cinema, you get all three. Set in the picturesque surrounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens,
you’ll be able to catch both new releases and old favourites (this month’s picks include everything from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to new Margot Robbie flick Birds of Prey), with the option to BYO food and drink or purchase from onsite food trucks.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra
CITY LIGHTS: Rooftop Cinema
Don’t sleep on the last weeks of Rooftop Cinema and miss your chance to watch films backdropped by the bright lights of the city. Grab a drink from the bar or a Piccolina choc top before settling in for the night. This month’s program includes lauded recent releases Ford V Ferrariand Once Upon a Time in Hollywood plus throwbacks like Mean Girls and Back to the Future.
Until 28th March
252 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Australia’s largest comedy festival kicks off towards the end of March, taking over the city’s venues with dozens of shows to choose from every night. Whether you’re looking to see big names or discover fresh talent, there’s something in the packed program for you. Within the first few days there are sets from Fiona O’Loughlin, Wil Anderson, Arj Barker and Zoë Coombs Marr to check out.
25th March-19th April
CINEMA: Fantastic Film Festival
Mind-breakers, trend-setters, truth-talkers and trailblazers all star in this niche film festival, which showcases the best of alternative cinema. Fantasies, thrillers and animation feature in a packed line-up that includes psychological horror film Saint Maud and black comedy A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life.
20th February-4th March
675 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn
THEATRE: The Importance of Being Earnest
Oscar Wilde’s famed comedy gets a refreshing, raucous turn in this new Malthouse Theatre production, where every role in the play is performed by just two actors. David Woods and Jon Haynes show off their daredevil comedic wits, tumbling through characters at breakneck speed as they perform the story of Jack and Algy, two young gentlemen who fabricate sumptuous double lives to escape the straitjacket of social norms.
From now until Sunday 8th March
113 Sturt St, Southbank
KICK IT: AFLW
Wave your team colours and support women kicking goals (literally) at heart-stopping AFLW matches. Throw your weight behind one, or all, of our six local teams: the Melbourne Demons, Carlton Blues, Collingwood Magpies, Geelong Cats, North Melbourne Kangaroos and Western Bulldogs. Entry to some matches are free on a first-come, first-served basis but get in early as matches are wildly popular.
Various dates and venues
FLORAL FANCIES: Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
Green thumbs and hobby florists, this one’s for you. At this five-day bonanza of botanical delights, celebrating its 25th year, discover stunning floral art, arranging workshops, boutique gardens and even fashion made from blooms, plus plenty of plants, ferns and herbs for you to take home. There’ll be live music, competitions, food trucks and pop-up bars each day, or visit on Friday night when the grounds stay open until 9pm (with a botanical gin bar in tow).
Tickets from $27
Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
RETRO STYLE: Vintage Fashion Sale
Uncover vintage and contemporary McQueen, Armani, Valentino, Max Mara and Missoni at a fraction of their original price at this massive sale hosted by the National Trust. Clothes, accessories, fashion books and collectibles spanning from the late-1800s to present day will be there to rifle through, so arrive early with a keen eye – it’s first in, best dressed, literally.
Saturday 21st March & Sunday 22nd March 10am-4pm
Como House, corner of Williams Road and Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra
BLISS OUT: Indulge in a Day Spa Experience
In need of a little pampering? While buzzing cosmopolitan Melbourne certainly has no shortage of things to do, sometimes you want nothing more than to get away from it all and indulge in some much deserved me time. So ready your robe and sit back and relax as we discover Melbourne’s best day spas.
WORK OUT: Outdoor Fitness
Perhaps you’ve had enough of the gym but can’t quite muster the energy to pound the pavement solo. Whether morale is running low, or you’re just craving a change of scenery – there’s nothing quite like an outdoor fitness session to get your blood pumping and stamina soaring. As we fully embrace the summer, join us in working (out) our way through Melbourne’s best outdoor exercise classes.
EXPLORE: Hit the Trail
Whether you fancy ambling from brunch to picnic lunch or you prefer your walks a little more strenuous – Melbourne has a multitude of scenic tracks that will please everyone from casual strollers to weekend warriors. Soak up the buzzing atmosphere on beachside promenades, make your way along creek-side paths littered with native flowers or admire the city skyline from lush urban parks. All you need to bring is your walking shoes.
EXPERIENCE: Feedback Loops
Inspired by web and new media aesthetics, the artists in ACCA’s summer exhibition Feedback Loopsrecreate characters from their past and present in order to imagine the future. You’ll see works that are in equal measure unsettling, absurd, fantastical and joyous, expressed via everything from gaming software and CGI to the ripping and rehashing of internet content.
From now until 22nd March
111 Sturt St, Southbank
Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s lives shared many parallels – both irrevocably changed the art world in the 1980s, created instantly recognisable imagery, engaged in socio-political commentary and tragically died young. In this blockbuster new NGV exhibition, 200 artworks trace each artist’s short yet prolific career while providing fascinating new insights into their unique visual languages.
From now until 13th April
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne