Melbourne is the Events Capital of World and There is Never Short of Something Eventful to do!
Melbourne, Australia is not renowned as the events capital of the world for nothing. There truly is something to do every month of the calendar year. The annual calendar is always filled with activities and make sure you try and coincide with some of these events which you won’t find anywhere else around the world!
ANNUAL JANUARY EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#1 SUNSET SERIES
Every year for 2 weekends in January from about 5pm to 9pm, the Sunset Series comes to life in Fitzroy Gardens. It features live music from indie pop to country-soul and on site food trucks for when you’re hungry. The highlight of this series for us is the Bollywood dance workshop that is run by NB Dance. It is ridiculously fun as we pack a picnic for a warm balmy evening as we dance the night away! The dancers show kids and adults alike proper dance moves that can be quite a workout by the time we’re done!
#2 AUSTRALIAN OPEN TENNIS
Kicking off the Grand Slam series, the Australian Open is an awesome sporting event to be part of for the whole family. The Kids Tennis Day, presented by Nickelodeon before the commencement of the tournament is such a highlight with kids watching champions having a goof of a time and entertaining the crowd. Kids can get a close up with their tennis idols as they show off their trick shots and jokes. They can also partake in the ANZ tennis hot shots where they get to experience tennis with some of the top coaches.
During the tournament itself, ground passes are available from $25 where you get to peruse the whole ground and join in on the matches on the outer courts. The Australian Open is also the only Grand Slam which has 2 closed roof arenas if you’re interested in seeing some of the top seeds battle it out!
ANNUAL FEBRUARY EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#3 ANTIPODES FESTIVAL
Head over to Lonsdale Street in the heart of the city to enjoy the annual Greek Festival of food and live entertainment from local and international acts. Melbourne is known for having the second largest population of Greeks outside of Athens so you can be assured of its authenticity! There’s face painting, balloon sculpting, carnival rides and storytelling for kids whilst the adults can enjoy competitions including the dance competition dubbed ‘Zorba ‘Till You Drop’ and the ‘Kaimaki King’ for Greek Cafes in Australia. My favourite is the Loukoumadomania (Greek donuts) contest to see who can eat the most of these decadent treats in one minute!
#4 ST KILDA FESTIVAL
St Kilda Festival is Australia’s largest free music festival. Located on the beautiful St Kilda foreshore, this event showcases Australian artists and talents and everyone is welcome to attend.
“The St Kilda Festival is held on the second Sunday in February every year, attracting over 400,000 people. The streets of St Kilda are closed to all traffic when the hottest Australian musicians play over ten music stages, while people of all ages are entertained with a vast range of performances, workshops and events, from kids’ entertainment to live wrestling, dance classes, community activities, buskers, food trucks and a whole lot more.” St Kilda Festival.
This is a great way to enjoy a day out with your teenage children who have a love for music and discovering new talent and musicians. I am always amazed that this event is free!
You can take little ones to Catani Gardens for a tailor-made festival experience, with music, dancing and activities designed especially for kids! This includes activities such as Zumba for kids, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, Pevan & Sarah and The Chipolatas. You’ll also find roving performers, activities and rides.
#5 WHITE NIGHT
Melbourne city is transformed into a celebration of culture and creativity. White Night, which goes from dusk until dawn, commands up to 600,000 festival goers and is particularly well known for its amazing light projections on famous Melbourne buildings. The event also showcases installations, exhibitions, street performances, film, music and dance. It is such a great way to see the city in a completely different light and the kids love wandering aimlessly at 2am in the morning! Midnight is the busiest time of the festival so try and avoid that time if possible.
ANNUAL MARCH EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
Held over 4 days of the Labour Day long weekend, Moomba is Australia’s largest free community festival and one of the longest running ones of 60 years. Held on the banks of the Yarra River, this event attracts over a million festival goers and is the perfect day out for the family. Some of the highlights include the Moomba Parade, crowning of the Moomba King and Queen, carnivals in the gardens, water sports to include the infamous birdman rally, fireworks display and of course more live music and plenty of food!
#7 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX
The Grand Prix is the oldest surviving motor racing competition held in Australia with Melbourne hosting it for the 20th year in 2016. Located in Albert Park, it is very close to Melbourne city. The charm of this race is that it’s not competed in a purpose built race track but rather its 16-turn circuit, which measures 5.3 kilometers which was built utilising a combination of public roads and a car park within the park.
This 4 day event encompasses a variety of shows to thrill the motor heads! On the schedule you’ll find demonstrations, air displays, races and track activities to include stunt displays. The first practise session is typically held on the Friday of the 4 day long event. The Grand Prix also boasts a kids corner and a Porsche kids driving school where the kids are able to register to participate in the driving school which will consist of a theory lesson, driving session and all participants will receive their very first ‘driver’s license at the completion of the 20 minute session.
ANNUAL APRIL EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#8 MELBOURNE FOOD AND WINE
In 2017, Melbourne Food and Wine will celebrate their 25th year. In 1993, the festival commenced with a program of 12 events and has now grown into over 300 events around the state of Victoria! This festival is for the real foodies and Melbourne is a culinary melting pot! Here are some examples of family events that were held this year:
- Big M Zone – Enjoy the taste of summer with a range of fun-filled activities including dairy demonstrations and educational activities.
- Bridge Road gathering – Stroll down Bridge Road, nibble on a tasting plate from one of the many cafes and be entertained by roving musicians.
- From Pier to Plate– Enjoy a day of festivities on Williamstown’s seafront with all day entertainment for the whole family.
- Mordialloc Food Wine and Music Festival – Head down to Mordialloc beachfront for a day of music, free cooking demonstrations and the Vikings Spit Roast lunch.
- Port Phillip Mussel Festival – Known as Melbourne’s favourite seafood party, you can enjoy mussels alongside some of Melbourne’s best jazz.
#9 COMEDY FESTIVAL
This has got to be one of my favourite festivals that Melbourne puts on. Commencing in March, the scale of the Comedy Festival is impressive, attracting international talent from all around the world. It literally takes over Melbourne city with acts being performed in small nooks and crannies to the main stages of the Melbourne Town Hall. Some up and coming acts are even free to attend! Check out the massive daily board of acts outside the Town Hall but be sure to check the suitability of the show. Not all of them are suitable for kids or in some cases, even for adults! I remember taking my Dad to Raw and even my ears went bright red with both the language and topic being so R-rated and above!
In the program just gone, there were over 20 shows specifically for kids. Everything from comedic circus acts to the coveted 52 Storey Treehouse production (we loved this!); you’ll find something for kids of all ages.
ANNUAL MAY EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#10 MOTHERS DAY CLASSIC
The Mother’s Day Classic is an annual fun run and walk raising funds and awareness for breast cancer research. Fun runs can be found in abundance in Melbourne, including the massive Melbourne Marathon in October. This one however not only raises awareness for a great cause but seem to be the best one to attend with families. Since 1998 the Mother’s Day Classic has raised $27.4 million dollars. This year the run was held at Alexandra Gardens and involves a 4km and 8km walk and run around the Tan Track.
ANNUAL JUNE EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#11 WINTER SOLSTICE AT THE FARM
The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year and is usually celebrated with the lighting of an enormous bonfire! This is our favourite winter event and we choose to go to the one at the Collingwood Children’s Farm. Starting at 4.30pm, the event includes story time and the children’s lantern, entertainers of drummers and fire twirlers with the bonfire lighting at around 6.15pm. We had a wet day this year so the lighting of the bonfire took sometime but once it got going, the kids had a ball! There are plenty of food and drink stalls but I suggest packing a picnic with warm food and hot drinks to avoid the queues.
ANNUAL JULY EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#12 OPEN HOUSE MELBOURNE
This has got to be one of the most interesting annual events on the calendar. For anyone who may be interested in design and architecture, this one is for you! For one weekend, Melbourne will have access to interesting spaces and buildings which you would otherwise not have access to.
“We invite people to explore outstanding houses, buildings, infrastructure and landscapes that illustrate our rich history, reflect how we live and work, and offer insights into our future city. The Weekend puts a spotlight on the unique spaces and places that form the foundation of Melbourne, providing an opportunity for you to consider what makes Melbourne unique. The Weekend showcases buildings of significance in a free and accessible format so everyone can experience the value of good design and architecture, and consider what makes a liveable city.” Open House Melbourne.
There are so many buildings to check out! This year some highlights for the kids included:
- ArtPlay – a dedicated arts studio for children.
- Substation ‘J’ – electricity zone substations located in the Melbourne CBD.
- Hawthorn tram depot – opened in 1916, it is now the Melbourne Tram Museum to house the city’s heritage tram fleet.
- Circus Oz HQ – Self guided tours throughout the headquarters and the beautiful Melba Spiegeltent, including sneak peaks of the props workshop and costume department. Face-painting and balloon twisting all day with opportunities for children to try out their circus skills.
#13 THE GERTRUDE STREET PROJECTION FESTIVAL (GSPF).
The GSPF is a free large scale arts festival located in the suburb of Fitzroy, just on the perimeter of the Melbourne CBD.
“The festival celebrates projection art and lets us see familiar spaces and buildings in new, inspired ways. It’s a collaborative, volunteer effort of artists and traders, residents and community groups all brought together by The Gertrude Projection Association. For 10 evenings in July and in over 38 sites, the length of Gertrude Street in Fitzroy is illuminated by the visions of talented projections artists for the Gertrude Street Projection Festival. Buildings, laneways, footpaths and tree trunks light up with site-specific, curated projections. The Festival’s diverse arts program celebrates and connects our diverse community.” Gertrude Street Projection Festival.
Typically, the best way to enjoy the night is to head into Gertrude Street for an early dinner and then take a stroll afterwards to enjoy the night. It’s pretty cool and hey, it’s free!
ANNUAL AUGUST EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#14 FIREWORKS AT THE DOCKLANDS
Commencing in July right through to the end of August, you can start your weekend with a bang with free Friday night fireworks at Docklands. I remember attending this for the first year with little to no expectations but was so impressed by the fireworks! It was not a bad show at all and the kids absolutely loved watching it from the promenade as the fireworks get set off from the barges on the water. Although the Docklands continue to struggle with getting good patronage, the fireworks are worth going for.
ANNUAL SEPTEMBER EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#15 MELBOURNE FRINGE FESTIVAL
“Melbourne Fringe is a celebration of cultural democracy and art for everyone. By embracing diversity and a spirit of independence, we create a unique space for artistic self-expression linked to the life of our great city. We’re here to challenge perceptions and shake up the hierarchy, to be brave and unafraid, to explore the boundaries of what art is and can be. And what’s more, everyone’s invited.” Melbourne Fringe Festival
At this year’s Fringe Festival, family can enjoy the Kids’ Club. Here is an impressive program:
- Comic Chaos – Caleo transforms your drawings, ideas and inspiration into one giant comic book.
- Dance The Pacific – Take a trip to tropical Tahiti with this participatory workshop and uncover the art of Polynesian dance.
- Rainbow Circus – Find Yana Alana with her friends The Queries in a jungle of juicy story jams, singing stems and prickly prancing as we ride this rainbow rollercoaster. This is a queer family event.
- Shake, Shimmy, Shim Sham, Sha BAM! – Move to the groove with this shake and bake mixtape of family fun with their favourite Fringe clown Tessa Waters.
- Starting School – Leave the Wiggles at home and get ready for a musical party education – we’re taking you and your family back to the golden age with songs from The Smiths, The Beatles, Beyoncé, The Supremes, Prince, Daft Punk and more.
- Fringe Footy Club – Join Dr Professor Neal Portenza and Penny Greenhalgh as they prepare for the big game this Grand Final day.
What an awesome Fringe line up events specifically for kids!
#16 ROYAL MELBOURNE SHOW
September is best known for Victoria’s most iconic community event, the Royal Melbourne Show. This year, it will be held at the Melbourne Showgrounds from Saturday 17 September to Tuesday 27 September 2016.
“Conducted by The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV), the Royal Melbourne Show celebrates agriculture and attracts around 450,000 visitors over 11 spectacular days. With a huge range of exciting, fun and informative activities, exhibits, competitions, food and attractions, visitors to the Royal Melbourne Show are provided ample opportunities to immerse themselves in the event experience and create memorable moments with family and friends.” Royal Melbourne Show
A popular family event that coincides with the school holidays, you’ll also find carnival rides, attractions and amusements. The most popular thing at the show is the showbags. Unfortunately for parents, there is no getting away without getting one and as they are now fully commercialized, it’s impossible to say no. Not only are they expensive, they are essentially filled with rubbish. But in saying that, the kids love it. So, if you do go, be prepared that you’ll have to buy one. I give my daughter a budget and she can get whichever one she chooses. I have no idea how much nonsensical Barbie merchandise she needs!
ANNUAL OCTOBER EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#17 MELBOURNE FESTIVAL
“Melbourne Festival is one of Australia’s flagship international arts festivals and one of the major multi-arts festivals of the world. Each Festival brings an unparalleled feast of dance, theatre, music, visual arts, multimedia and outdoor events from renowned and upcoming Australian and international companies and artists to Melbourne.” Melbourne Festival
This year, the 2 major events specifically for kids include:
- Haircuts By Children – If you’ve ever looked at modern art and thought “my kid could do that,” it’s time to put yourself to the test. Take a seat in the barber’s chair and let a ten-year-old give you a cut and colour. Haircuts by Children is what it says on the tin. Kids are given the tools they require to become working hairdressers, and all that’s needed is their clientele. Simple in concept, but the implications run deep. There’s talk about empowering our youth, but how much power will we actually allow them? We urge them to shape their destinies, but will…
- You And Me And The Space Between – The island is sinking. Its adults are useless. Time for the kids to save the day. Same old story, right? When the island of Proud Circle springs a leak, it’s up to one girl to look beyond its edges and discover the maybes and what-ifs that are its only hope. From the mind of Finegan Kruckemeyer, Australia’s most accomplished children’s playwright, comes a tale of wonder and invention that is brought to life in unexpected ways. Step inside a picture book as cartoonist Oslo Davis draws the story live while Sarah Ward reads it to you.
Sounds a little out there? Well, that’s kind of the idea!
ANNUAL NOVEMBER EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#18 SPRING RACING
Come November, the Spring Carnival hits Melbourne. This is horse racing at its best. Surely this is the only city in the world that has a sanctioned public holiday on a race day! The first Tuesday of November marks Melbourne Cup Day. Kids are welcome to the races but it is a long day if they are very young. Next to the winning post, there is a family area with craft, outdoor activities and pony rides.
Perhaps the best day to visit the races is Emirates Stakes Day which is a dedicated family day held the Saturday following on from Melbourne Cup day. This event is regarded as the best day to take children as there are all kinds of family entertainment including jumping castles and painting studio, a musical performance by a special guest, craft activities, roving entertainers, face painting, mini golf and an animal farm. All of this is free.
#19 MYER WINDOWS
Myer is our famous Australian department store and each year on Bourke Street Mall, Myer transforms its windows to showcase a Christmas theme. Just last year, it unveiled its 60th season and is always met with great anticipation and a queue a mile long! The windows are animated with light and sound that essentially tells a story from the first window to the last. Last year, Myer Melbourne did an animated tribute to Melbourne based on the popular children’s book Little Dog and the Christmas Wish. Trust me when I say it is well worth it. The queues may look daunting but it moves quickly. We tend to make a day of it starting with breakfast nearby followed by the viewing of the windows and then heading to the Melbourne Town Hall to check out the Gingerbread Village and finishing up on the playgrounds of Birrarung Marr. The window typically stays open until the end of the first week of January.
ANNUAL DECEMBER EVENTS IN MELBOURNE
#20 CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT
Turning 78 this year, the Carols by Candlelight event at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl is the ultimate family Christmas event on the night of Christmas Eve. It is so magical with the best of Australian talent singing all the popular Christmas Carols. This is a timeless tradition and children of all ages love being part of this. To top it off, all funds raised go towards supporting kids who are blind or have low vision.
If you’re not able to make the actual event, you can actually get tickets for the night before for the rehearsals. Great way to get a sneak peek!
It is a late night though, so make sure the kids have a long nap before the show starts!
Phew! And there you have it! And people wonder why we’re the most liveable city in the world! Enjoy!
Do you have any other anunal events and festivals to add to the list? Tell us in the comments below!
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