It’s all about pushing your creative boundaries this weekend. Melbourne is awash with innovative festivals that challenge you to look closer, think deeper, and dance harder. Aside from this year’s blockbuster White Night program, there’s also a southside festival celebrating emerging stars of the local music scene, a beer festival serving only funky brews and a warehouse party swapping electro raves for funk and soul.
EAT & DRINK
Back again for another year, Graze + Grains celebrates the best of regional Victorian produce matched with delicious Melbourne born-and-bred whisky. Taking over Starward’s Port Melbourne distillery, Graze + Grain will feature a campfire-cooked feast with matching cocktails, along with a regional produce market, Starward whisky tastings, and regional craft beer and wine.
Saturday 24 August, 12pm-6pm (Graze + Grains Campfire Feast: 1pm-3pm)
Free entry (Grain + Graze Feast- From $47pp+GST & BF)
Starward Whisky, 50 Bertie Street, Port Melbourne
Sit Stay Society Wines
Indulge in a glass of wine for a good cause this weekend and buy bottle from the newly launched label, The Sit Stay Society Wines. Consisting of a range of half bottle wines from Clare Valley ̶ shiraz tempranillo to cabernet malbec ̶ 50 cents from every bottle sold goes to PetRescue’s free adoption program and services. Exclusively available at BWS and Dan Murphy’s, what better way to reward yourself and to help our favourite furry friends.
$10 (Per bottle)
You might get a little chilly traipsing around the city this weekend, but White Art’s dazzling outdoor art is worth being cold for. Luckily, they’ve devised a way to get you feeling toasty from the inside out by inviting thirteen restaurants and bars across the CBD to create a one-off special toastie and hot toddy. Venues including Chin Chin, Mamasita, Bar Tini and Fancy Hanks are on board, with unmissable creations like Thai bolognese jaffles and sherry-braised beef cheek, béchamel and piccalilli on sourdough.
22-24 August, 7pm-late
A brunch and workout combo, this rollicking roller disco-meets-pizza-party thrown at Seaworks Williamstown, guarantees a giant serve of fun. Guests are invited to don their best ‘80s get up – think bright leotards, tights, glitter and bouffant hair – and plunge into an afternoon of roller skating, accompanied by retro hits,boozy mimosas and bottomless pizza. It sure beats meeting up for avo toast at your local.
23 & 24 August
82 Nelsons Pl, Williamstown
In the ranking of immortal comfort foods, Canada’s brainwave dish of hot chips covered in gravy and cheese curds is right at the top. This Saturday, dog-friendly food truck park is giving poutine its due glory with a dedicated festival, inviting a slate of their favourite poutine purveyors including Asado, The Pickle & The Patty and The Poutine Project to feed the neighbourhood. Chips aren’t all you’ll be sinking though, with drinks specials by way of $5 beers from Kona Brewing and $10 espresso martinis.
Saturday 24 August, 12pm-10pm
466 Mt Alexander Rd, Ascot Vale
An immersive pop-up dining experience in the secret undercroft deep beneath Federation Square has got us intrigued. Tuck into a special four-course menu by Tokyo Tina that explores future food trends while listening to an ambient electronic soundtrack. Enjoy Blade Runner-esque lighting installations and hang out in both a “VR spa” and a “robot’s den”. If it all sounds a little mysterious, so you’ll just have to go and see what it’s all about for yourself.
Cnr Flinders and Swanston St, Melbourne
MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE
Master of the emotion-driven dance anthem Hayden James is kicking off a nationwide tour this month on the back of his new single ‘Nowhere to Go’ and a ripper set at Splendour. We may be deep in winter, but James’s dazzling tracks will take your heart to high summer, where nights last long and the party never has to end.
154 Flinders St, Melbourne
The cream of the southside’s musical crop will be gracing stages across the City of Port Phillip again for this year’s Live N Local festival, with eight packed days of gigs on offer. Pretty much every genre is covered, from the country-pop sound of Brooke Taylor to the electronic hip hop beats of Daniel Elia and indie darling Sannia. Dozens of venues stretching from South Melbourne to St Kilda will be hosting both free and ticketed shows, so rifle through the full program to make the most of your Live N Local experience.
British glam rockers The Struts are back in Melbourne, tearing up the Corner’s stage this Friday with a high-energy set in support of their sophomore album Young & Dangerous. Having opened for The Rolling Stones, The Who, Guns’n’Roses and the Foo Fighters, they’ve now become headliners in their own right, drawing frequent comparisons to Queen for their exuberant stage presence and classic rock anthem sound.
Friday 23 August, 8.30pm
57 Swan St, Richmond
As part of White Night Reimagined, the CBD’s biggest and best live music venues are hosting concurrent all-nighters featuring many of our brightest emerging acts. You’ll have your pick between Boney, Section 8, Radar, Globe Alley and Bones & Jones, all of whom have scheduled back-to-back bands, vocalists and DJs including Clypso, The Merindas and Loure amongst dozens more.
23 & 24 August, 8.30pm-4am
Not your everage electronic warehouse party, Goldenvibes is taking the format to funk and soul music instead. Catch headline acts The Vibraphonic Orkestra with their almighty 5-piece horn section and high-energy Melbourne outfit That Gold Street Sound as they get the crowd swinging till the early hours.
Friday 23 August, 8pm-3am
36 Phoenix St, Brunswick
Melbourne Museum’s adults-only, after-dark party, is returning this month for a special RockWiz edition hosted by comedian Brian Nankervis. With a wine in hand, hear intimate expert talks and explore the museum’s newest exhibition Revolutions: Records and Rebels before dancing the night away to many of the 60s and 70s hits performed by the RocKwiz Orkestra.
Friday 23 August 7pm-11pm
11 Nicholson St, Carlton
Such is the depth and quality of Melbourne’s live music scene that every day of the week, month, and year there are dozens of gigs happening all over the city. From intimate performances to full scale concerts, these are the best places to dance to either an old favourite or the next big thing.
Spruce up your winter wardrobe with quality vintage finds at the Round She Goes market. Over 60 stalls will be hawking retro frocks, pre-loved designer garb and original accessories that’ll get you feeling fresh and fine. What we love about this market is that all stalls are handpicked and curated by the organisers, so you won’t have to rifle for long before you find something you love.
Sunday 25 August 10am-3pm
90 Bell St, Coburg
Set in picturesque Albert Park, the Gasworks Farmers Market is the go to for fresh local produce, with everything from crunchy sourdough loaves to freshly laid free range eggs and homemade jams. Offering only seasonal home-grown harvest, this much-loved Saturday market operates on a simple philosophy. Namely that the goods are ‘grown, made and known by those who sell them and that the quality of produce is of utmost importance’.
Third Saturday of every month from 8am to 1pm.
21 Graham Street, Albert Park
This weekend, the Arts Centre’s buildings, backstage areas, underground venues and hidden walkways will be transformed into a labyrinth of music, dance, theatre and art. Pitched as a festival of “ecstatic performance and transformative ritual”, the program is stacked with boundary-pushing works that can’t be described, only discovered as you explore the space over each evening, as well as headline acts from artists including Aldous Harding and Marlon Williams.
Includes free and ticketed events
Whether it’s grazing on gourmet fare or just the regular old weekly shop –there’s a reason South Melbourne Market has been a local institution since 1867. A mecca for foodies across the city, this community stronghold is home to a wide range of exquisite produce. Whether it’s exotic fruits and veggies (as well as those of the garden variety), steaming paella by the plateful or South Melbourne’s famous dim sims – you dream it, they’ve got it.
Fridays from 8am to 5pm
Saturdays from 8am to 4pm
Sundays from 8am to 4pm
Coventry and Cecil Street, South Melbourne.
Melbourne’s annual festival of light and art is back and bigger than ever, now stretching out over three nights instead of one. This year, events will be spread out across three ‘realms’ – the ‘physical realm’ at Birrarung Marr for performance art, the ‘sensory realm’ at Treasury Gardens for immersive installations, and the ‘spiritual realm’ at Carlton Gardens, where artworks explore questions of the soul.
In the midst of one of Melbourne’s buzzing arts, culture and dining precincts is a true culinary icon. The ever-popular Prahran Market is home to an extensive line-up of seasonal produce, with fresh from the farm fruit and veg, sustainable seafood, free range meat, an impressive deli section and bountiful fresh produce – all cementing the neighbourhood as a premier foodie destination.
Fridays from 7am to 5pm
Saturdays from 7am to 5pm
Sundays from 10am to 3pm
163 Commercial Road, South Yarra.
Whether you’re an alternative brew aficionado or a curious newbie lager-drinkier, there’s plenty to discover at this wide-ranging beer festival, that celebrates all things sour, wild and funky. Around 20 cutting edge breweries including respected players like La Sirene and Wildflower will be dropping by to share their unique creations. There’ll also be a festival restaurant, oyster bar, live acoustic music and natural wine to make it a fun, full-day affair.
Saturday 24 August, 11.30am-8pm
3 Blackwood St, Melbourne
Is there anything better than a mug of hot choccy on a cold winter’s day? Three regional chocolateries – Great Ocean Road, Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula – are drawing you out of the city by releasing 31 flavours, one for each day in August. Try zany creations like the Mocha Margarita and Girl's Best Friend made with rosé and ruby chocolate, or throw caution to the wind and indulge in an eight-flavour tasting session for $20.
35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen
1200 Great Ocean Rd, Bellbrae
45 Cook St, Flinders
Arguably Melbourne’s most iconic market, Queen Victoria Market has been serving the city for 139 years. With a deli section to rival the spoils of the Mediterranean, cavernous food halls and heritage fruit and vegetable sheds where ‘the banter is as fresh as the produce’ – the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere is worth a visit for the buzzing atmosphere alone.
Fridays, 6am to 5pm
Saturdays, 6am to 3pm
Sundays, 9am to 4pm
513 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.
ARTS & CULTURE
Sign up for a dreamy afternoon of life drawing at this body positive class hosted by creative women’s zine Ladies of Leisure. With all materials provided and beginners welcomed, Melbourne-based artist Lani Mitchell will guide the class through a freestyle drawing session that encourages creative flow and new perspectives. From within LOL’s peaceful, light-filled space, you’ll be able to slow down, tune in and uncover new capacities for artistic expression guided by the human body.
Sunday 25 August 2.30pm-4pm
451 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
This secret immersive cinema experience is one of the most buzzworthy events in town. Those curious enough to sign up are given a theme and a dress code before they turn up on the night to a fully realised film world complete with live actors, sets and costumes. Take in the sensory overload, order a drink at the bar and settle in for the movie. This edition’s theme is La Guerre (French for ‘The War’) and the dress code is 1940s – we can’t wait to find out what mysteries unfold.
This provocative reinterpretation of The Scarlet Letter is a battlecry against patriarchal domination, comparing Puritan-era concepts of sin, gender and sex with contemporary oppressions. Staged by edgy theatre company The Danger Ensemble, expect plenty of the experimental, with the story’s progression snatched with monologues, dance numbers and actors breaking character.
Until 25 August
14 Acland St, St Kilda
One of the most arresting works in this year’s White Night program is British artist Michael Pinsky’s Pollution Pods, in which five large domes immerse you in the polluted environments of five global cities by replicating their levels of ozone, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide. You’ll start off in the pristine air of Tautra in Norway before moving through London, New Delhi, Beijing and São Paulo, which between them suffer from some of the lowest air quality in the world – a stark reminder of what’s at stake when it comes to pollution.
22-24 August, 7pm-12am
Treasury Gardens, Melbourne
In this innovative new Malthouse Theatre production, each actor plays two characters – one bourgeois, one bogan – to tell a raucous class comedy set in a suburban neighbourhood. An epic backyard battle will be pitched, featuring a tense Christmas dinner, trackie dacks and a fair few durries. Written by rising playwright Zoey Dawson, it’s an incisive, exacting satire that’ll have you both laughing and reconsidering the artificiality of class divisions in Australia.
Until 18 September
113 Sturt Street, Southbank
This ambitious new theatre show has the whole city abuzz, with its immersive choose-your-own-adventure style production that requires a safety waiver at the door. Based on the gothic stories of Edgar Allan Poe, you’ll tread through winding corridors, narrow tunnels and secret cells while solving puzzles and interacting with actors full of Victorian-era intrigue. A little creepy and a lot of fun, over five hours of scripted storyline means that no two shows will be the same.
Until 15 September
222 Macaulay Rd, Melbourne
You’ll be tapping your toes and dabbing the eyes at this life-affirming new Broadway musical that explores a remarkable, little-known story from 9/11. On the day of the disaster, 7000 passengers were forced to land in the small Canadian town of Gander, doubling the population overnight. Culture clashes and nerves turn into trust, gratitude and enduring friendships as the evening whiles away with Grammy Award-winning songs.
Until 22 September
240 Exhibition St, Melbourne
This mind-bending interactive art piece invites you to walk through the rain, unprotected, without getting wet. Presented by ACMI at St Kilda’s Jackalope Pavilion, Rain Room is a 100 square metre field of continuous rain that responds to movement, with droplets ceasing to fall as you navigate the space. It’s a commentary on how humanity’s relationship to nature is increasingly mediated through technology, but it’s also just an immensely trippy physical experience.
Until September 26
Ackland & Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Consider this: what kind of art do you like? Whether it’s painting, sculpture, photography or theatre, Melburnians are in for an absolute treat. Explore the city and its surrounds, and prepare to get lost in a world of wonder – these are the exhibitions you won't want to miss out on.
Expanding art from the realm of the visual to the aural this month is Linden’s new suite of works exploring the medium of sound. Innovative works include Cat Hope’s bold graphic scores splayed across the walls of the gallery, to be played by musicians during special events, Mona Ruijs’s meditative live sound baths featuring gongs, and Lucreccia Quintanilla’s sculptures that play a cacophony of wild and urban noises.
Until 1 September
26 Acland St, St Kilda