Melbourne: here’s our take on the coolest winter city.
Melbourne is such a cool place to visit – and we’re not just talking about the invigorating winter days. We’re raving about the art, the famous musicals, multicultural markets, beautiful gardens, all the football codes and fun festivals that let you fill every day and evening for at least a week.
And we haven’t even started on the cosy corners, hidden bars, perfect coffee, mulled wines, the celebrated Mork hot chocolate with toasted marshmallows, the fine restaurants with their seasonal menus. This all means that Melbourne is an exciting place to visit no matter what the weather.
Where to start? The best way to orientate yourself is with a Hidden Secrets walking tour such as Golden Mile Heritage Walks of Melbourne or Melbourne Lanes and Arcades Tour. The former includes some of Melbourne’s grandest buildings and intriguing tales from the gold rush boom days; the latter takes you deep into the twists and turns of the lanes and arcades that are filled with busy cafes, bars and designer stores.
If that whets your appetite to delve into Melbourne’s religious fervour for coffee, book the Café Culture Tour. You’ll discover that some of the very best coffee comes from tiny hidden cafes and specialty roasters. Lunch is included at a secret location.
Art abounds in winter, and the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is the epicentre. The Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, ‘The Picasso Century’, runs till October 9; ‘Queer’ shines a light on stories of the NGV’s collection of queer works of art until August 21; ‘Who Are You: Australian Portraiture’ brings together the best of the NGV and the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra collections until August 21. Our tip: make it a blockbuster Friday, see all three exhibitions and stay on for the popular evening entertainment, bars and dining.
The extraordinary, immersive digital Van Gogh exhibition at The Lume (Australia’s first digital art gallery) runs right through winter, so why not make a weekend of it and stay in one of the many hotels within an easy walk of the galleries.
When you’re ready for cocktails and dinner, your tours will have put a number of Melbourne’s best bars and dining experiences on your personal map. Or you can book a Progressive Degustation Walk to three restaurants, each serving three savoury food tastings with a flight of wine or other beverages.
At the Royal Botanic Gardens, until August 7 is the illuminated spectacular ‘Lightscape’. See the gardens after dark as never before to celebrate the beauty of nature on a trail featuring installations made up of over half a million dazzling lights. Also at the gardens a must-do in the art-tech space is ‘Seeing the Invisible’ augmented reality artworks. Thirteen immersive virtual works by established and emerging artists are viewed through a special app on your smartphone or tablet simultaneously at venues around the world. Be prepared to be amazed – and Australia’s only venues for this international exhibition are the botanic gardens in Melbourne and Cranbourne.
Next, a totally indulgent shopping experience at the Boho Luxe Market and Boho Bride at the Royal Exhibition Buildings. Think of a Byron Bay-inspired bohemian wonderland, and shop for homewares, jewellery, clothing, kids’ items, prints, candles, stationery and more. Till August 28.
Melbourne’s markets are famous, and the Winter Night Market takes over Queen Victoria Market on Wednesday evenings until August 31. Come and enjoy Melbourne’s best street food, brewers, distillers, artisans and entertainment. And the Malaysia Hawker Festival tempts with the spices and scents of that tiny nation on September 10 and 11.
Now, you can’t visit Melbourne without seeing a musical or play. The Broadway hit musical ‘Hairspray’ opens on August 7, the international smash hit ‘Hamilton’ plays till October, and ‘9 to 5 The Musical’ brings Dolly Parton’s inimitable style to Melbourne until September 11. ‘Under the Paris Sky’ is a glittering cabaret at the Butterfly Club with French songs and hilarious fun from August 1 – 6.
Still got gaps in your holiday diary? The Melbourne International Film Festival runs from August 4 -21, the Indian Film Festival from August 12 – 20, and the Melbourne Writers Festival celebrates the written word from September 8 – 11.
Australian Rules Football is played at Melbourne’s big stadiums every week, with soccer and rugby at top levels too.
Come and #MeetMelbourne soon.
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(For more information on these and other events, visit https://www.visitmelbourne.com/regions/melbourne/whats-on)