Essential night-time events for your diary

Searing for cool things to do after dark? We’ve found Melbourne’s best nocturnal activities, from a lovely lantern festival to an immersive Gothic theatrical experience.

A Midnight Visit

You’ve probably heard by now that this Edgar Allan Poe-inspired immersive theatrical experience in an abandoned North Melbourne warehouse is pretty spooktastic. So what are you waiting for! Get your tix quick sticks, because A Midnight Visit is only on until 13 October. This encounter with the macabre is part choose-your-own-adventure, part performance, part sound world and surreal playground. Good thing there’s a bar on-site so you can calm your nerves before or after.

A performer in the middle of a pink ball pit with two other performers beside him

A Midnight Visit

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Candy Man can, and so can you. Experience the fun-filled stage musical rendition of Roald Dahl’s beloved book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s on until 3 November, but whenever you decide to go, we recommend you make time to visit the scrumptious Wonka Bar at the Westin Melbourne too.

A small glass with purple liquid in it topped with fairy floss

Sip Wonka-style candy cocktails before or after you see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Arj Barker’s Safe Space

It’s time for some cut-price comedy argy-bargy as one of Australia’s favourite American comedians tries out his new material. Arj Barker will be testing out new jokes and ideas every Monday night at European Bier Cafe until 28 October for his new series, Arj Barker’s Safe Space. For $20 you get jokes almost no one has heard before (and maybe never will again!), and perhaps some famous guests too.

Hawker 88 Night Market

Goodbye Winter Night Market, hello Hawker 88 Night Market! Enjoy the tastes, scents, sights and sounds of Asia, including live music and cultural experiences. Go shopping for weird and wonderful treasures, and discover street food from Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, China, Japan and more. Themed nights include the Malaysia Durian Night Market Festival on 25 September. Spice up your Wednesdays, 5-10pm from 18 September to 23 October.

Three Chinese dragon performers in front of a crowd inside a large shed

Hawker 88

Korean Film Festival

There is more to Korean cinema than genius director Bong Joon-ho – though this festival is, of course, screening his new Palme d’Or winner, Parasite. From comedies to thrillers and a historical epic, the Korean Film Festival (5-12 September) is a feast of films you won’t see anywhere else. Catch films like The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale and The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil in the freshly restored Art Deco theatre, The Capitol.

Bust a move at Birds Basement

One of the hottest jazz spots in town will be hosting sweet gigs in the latter half of the year. The smooth jazz trio that is ‘Urbanity’ – made up of multi award nominees Albare and Phil Turcio – will bring their unique mellow grooves to BB for three nights in September. Or catch the phenomenal Renee Geyer in November and December  as she performs a range of soul, rock, blues, jazz, pop and reggae songs in her distinct and powerful voice.

A cocktail with a foamy top on a wooden bench

Have a bev at Birds Basement

Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ: AfterMATH by Ash Wednesday

Hear Australian electronica pioneer Ash Wednesday premiere his new work AfterMATH on the 10,000-pipe Grand Organ. From his 70s punk and synthpop roots, Ash plays with odd numbers and chance in this stunning sonic response to the onset of illness and loss of use of his right side. Support: Nina Buchanan and RMIT Digital Media students. 25 September, from 7pm. Free.

Rite of Spring

Rite of Spring (3-6 October) is a must-see event at this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival. Choreographer Ying Liping, known in China as the ‘Peacock Princess’ returns with a work of theatrical imagination off the back of her 2017 spectacle, Under Siege. Exploring Chinese and Tibetan ideas about life, death and rebirth, it features original music and Igor Stravinsky’s instantly recognisable score from the 1913 ballet of the same name.

Yummy Up Late

After touring the world, Melbourne Fringe Festival darlings Yummy Productions are back in their hometown with some outrageous new drag and burlesque acts. Get ready for the glittering, risqué Yummy Up Late in The Wonderland Spiegeltent, on for two nights only on 20-21 September. Warning: this show is not for shrinking violets!