Destinations / Oceania

Melbourne’s Best Winter Events & Entertainment

We all know Melbourne as the cultural and entertainment hub of Australia. A city with a twist at every turn, Melbourne has an ever-evolving calendar of events year-round. Winter is a particularly exciting time of year, when Melbourne complements its cosy winter weather with a wealth of sporting, cultural and food events.

Melbourne’s dynamic cultural scene thrives during winter, from exclusive exhibitions at national art galleries and museums to Broadway musicals and epic sporting matchups. These days travellers have even more reasons to embrace the city’s winter chill. We’ve done the hard yards and found the best of Melbourne’s winter events and entertainment, so you know exactly when and where to go on your next trip.

Melbourne’s Best Winter Art Galleries & Museums

Melbourne Arts Centre
Photo: Visit Victoria

Melbourne’s dynamic arts precinct, located near Southbank and along St Kilda Road, is a haven for culture vultures, home to some of the city’s best galleries and performing halls. Contemporary and aspiring artists have a home at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, while Arts Centre Melbourne hosts premiering performances and international ballet stars to their stages.

Celebrate the past, present and future of Australian contemporary music at the Australian Music Vault. Pick up handmade artworks and meet local makers at the Arts Centre Sunday Market, which runs every week. Discover some of the world’s greatest artistic creations as well as the famed Waterwall and stained-glass ceiling at NGV International. Wander through Melbourne Museum, a short tram ride out of the city in Carlton, adjacent to the grand Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building.

Melbourne Winter Highlights

MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art (until October 7)

Discover more than 200 influential works from artists of the late-19th century to the current digital age, including Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Frida Kahlo. The exhibition is exclusive to Melbourne and many of the works have never been seen before in Australia. Combine MoMA at NGV with a late-night session of live jazz music, drinks and gourmet food during NGV Friday Nights.

Wonderland at ACMI (until October 7)

Be one of the first to experience this world-premiere exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Discover the influence Alice had on revolutionary filmmaking, special effects and animation to tell inspiring stories. Visit on the last Friday of the month to experience Wonderland while enjoying cocktails and live DJs, VJs and musicians.

Alice in Wonderland Melbourne
Credit: Photography: Phebe Schmidt; Styling: Thalea Michos-Vellis

Vikings: Beyond the Legend (until August 26)

Discover authentic insight into the lives, traditions and beliefs of Vikings through more than 450 artefacts, the largest collection ever displayed in Melbourne. You can listen to an informative curator lecture and get up close to ancient Viking swords.

Real Madrid World of Football Experience (until 5 August)

Football fans can experience the magic of Real Madrid at Melbourne Museum. Four interactive zones offer 90 minutes of cinematic match-like experiences, physical technology, club memorabilia and a FIFA gaming arena.

Real Madrid Football Experience Melbourne
Photo: Visit Victoria

Nocturnal (July 6)

Enjoy a late-night party with live bands and DJs at Melbourne Museum, along with open bars, crowd performers and gourmet food.

Melbourne’s Best Winter Theatre Shows

The Forum Melbourne
Photo: Visit Victoria

Melbourne brings the world’s best theatrical acts to Australia, luring West End and Broadway shows with its range of historic and contemporary performance venues. The city’s thriving theatre scene centres around its East End Theatre District, which is home to six beloved historic theatres, including the Princess Theatre, Regent Theatre,  Comedy Theatre, the Forum, Her Majesty’s Theatre and the Athenaeum Theatre.

Melbourne Winter Highlights

The Wizard of Oz at the Regent Theatre (until July 22)

Witness the beloved tale of Oz in Melbourne’s landmark Regent Theatre, which dates back to 1929 and features original chandeliers. The Wizard of Oz stars Anthony Warlow, Lucy Durack and Samantha Dodemaide.

Swan Lake at the Princess Theatre (June 20 – June 24)

Held over only five nights, Swan Lake showcases the talented St Petersburg Ballet Theatre dancers during Tchaikovsky’s famous masterpiece. This is the first time the Princess Theatre has hosted classical ballet in 65 years.

Regent Theatre Melbourne
Photo: Visit Victoria

Mamma Mia! at the Princess Theatre (July 10 – September 16)

Sit back and fall head over heels for the magic of Mamma Mia! at Melbourne’s iconic Princess Theatre. The award-winning show features 22 of ABBA’s greatest songs.

Rocky Horror Show at Her Majesty’s Theatre (July 12 ­– August 19)

Witness the glitz, glamour and adult humour of this world-famous rock n’ roll show at Her Majesty’s Theatre, a 1,700-seat performance venue built in 1886.

Melbourne’s Best Winter Sports

Melbourne Sports Precinct
Photo: Visit Victoria

Sport is a prominent part of Melbourne life, showcased during national and international competitions at the city’s best sporting arenas. Melbourne’s sporting precinct is located alongside the Yarra River and within walking distance from the inner neighbourhood of  Richmond. It’s also surrounded by inviting restaurants and pubs, including the Cricketers Arms Hotel and Corner Hotel. On either side of the Richmond train station sit the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, AAMI Park, Hisense Arena and Rod Laver Arena, giving you every possible sport in one location.

Melbourne Winter Highlights

AFL at the MCG

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is the home of AFL, hosting some of the country’s biggest games over winter. The city’s home teams, Melbourne FC takes on St Kilda on July 1, while the Adelaide Crows battle last year’s Grand Final winners Richmond on July 6 and Hawthorn plays Essendon on August 4.

Rugby Union and Rugby League at AAMI Park 

Witness Australia’s beloved rugby union and rugby league competitions at AAMI Park, where the Melbourne Rebels play the NSW Waratahs on June 29. The 30,050-seat stadium also hosts Melbourne Storm matches, including a 2016 Grand Final rematch against the Cronulla Sharks on August 12.

Melbourne Cricket Ground
Photo: Visit Victoria

Volleyball and Netball at Hisense Arena

Head to Hisense Arena between June 22 and 24 to watch the Volleyball Nations League, which hosts the world’s best men’s volleyball teams, including World Champions Poland and Olympic Champions Brazil. The arena is also the best place to watch Australia’s national netball competition, with the Melbourne Vixens taking on West Coast Fever on June 16 and the Collingwood Magpies playing the NSW Swift on July 21.

More Can’t-Miss Melbourne Winter Events

Night Market Melbourne
Photo: Visit Victoria

Melbourne Cabaret Festival (19 June – 1 July)

One of Victoria’s biggest winter events, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival hosts a range of entertaining cabaret performances in various themes, including James Bond. You can also see comedy, singing and live jazz music.

Queen Victoria Market – Winter Night Market (until August 29)

Locals and visitors alike flock to the Winter Night Market, where the brightly-lit sheds reveal around 80 stalls selling global cuisine, handmade goods and artisan crafts. You can also watch live music and drink at open-air bars.

Melbourne Writer’s Festival (August 24 – September 2)

Meet some of the best writers and literary professionals in the world at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, which features readings, talks and interactive discussions. Attendees include writer Benjamin Law, video essayist Dan Golding and scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.

Melbourne International Film Festival (August 2 – August 19)

Witness international films, auteur cinema, documentaries and Australian films at the annual Melbourne International Film Festival. Highlights include The Deserted, People’s Republic of Desire and West of Sunshine.

Open House Melbourne (July 28 – July 29)

Immerse yourself in Melbourne’s cultural and historical attractions during the one-of-a-kind Open House Melbourne weekend. More than 200 buildings around the city open their doors for talks, exclusive events, tours, screenings and performances. This includes Cox Architect Studio, Federation Square, Gordon Place, the Melbourne City Baths and National Gallery of Victoria.

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