Essential winter events in Melbourne

Melbourne’s arts scene really buzzes in winter, and the city’s love of good times fires up indoors and out. So don’t even think about hibernating. Put these awesome events in the calendar, break out your winter woollies and raise a cup of mulled wine to the season.

Taste the Difference

Enjoy a delicious meal made by refugees who are forging their own micro-businesses and at the same time, support AMES Australia’s People in Need Fund. Taste the Difference will feature Sri Lankan, Persian and Syrian delights and you can enjoy music from Fadil Suna, who entertains with folk and pop jazz music from Kurdistan. On Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 June, tickets $50.

Terracotta Warriors and Cai Guo-Qiang

This is always an exciting time for art lovers, as NGV International unveils its annual Winter Masterpieces exhibition. This year it’s the Terracotta Warriors and Cai Guo-Qiang, which brings eight of Emperor Qin’s life-size soldiers to Melbourne. There are also scores of other ancient Chinese treasures, plus new works by contemporary Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. See if you can count the 10,000 suspended porcelain birds in his monumental installation. Until 13 October.

Rows of stone warrior statues

Terracotta Warriors

The Winter Village at Fed Square

Embrace the season’s good times, from ice-skating to hot chocolate and caramel apple hot toddies. All this and more await at The Winter Village at Fed Square, a winter-long hot spot filled with see-through igloos. Gather in the big dining hall igloo, or book a private one and snuggle up with cold-weather treats. There’s a big program of wintry events and activities coming up – stay tuned! Until 29 September.

Plastic igloos set up in front of the city skyline at night

The Winter Village at Federation Square

Winter Night Market

Free live entertainment, open fires and pretty party lights. Mulled wine and hot chocolate (by local legend Mörk no less). Warming dishes from around the world by oodles of street-food vendors, including event newcomers like Pierogi Pierogi and Melted Cheese Bar. Fifty more stalls selling lovely things to brighten your winter, including handmade candles and jewellery. Plus everything from eggnog to snow machines for Christmas in July. Yes, the Winter Night Market is back! 5 June to 28 August.

A large red neon sign spelling out 'Winter Night Market' suspended above a crowd of people milling about at a night time market

The Winter Night Market

Firelight Festival

Firelight Festival returns to Docklands, bigger and better in 2019! Running 28 to 30 June, the explosive three day festival features live entertainment, flame jets, fire drums, water and light shows and fireworks. Warm yourself and celebrate the winter solstice with fabulous food and fire performers. Drumlines, stilt walkers and a one-man band will rove along the harbour, accompanied by live music from around the world including Bollywood, mariachi, gypsy folk and Irish.

Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo

Even if you’ve seen Swan Lake, you’ve never seen it like this before. Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo is coming to Melbourne to perform LAC, a fresh take on the ballet classic. This deep dive into the psyche blends dance styles old and new, with black-and-white set and costume designs evoking palace and forest. Expect the unexpected, as well as ballet’s timeless beauty. 27 June to 6 July.

Oz Comic-Con Melbourne

Geeks, nerds, space cadets and everyone else who’s into popular culture – and who isn’t? Oz Comic-Con Melbourne has got a whole lot of cool stuff you’ll want to check out. There are film and TV guests like Battlestar Galactica’s hot Cylon, Tricia Helfer. There’s a cosplay championship, gaming publishers and developers exhibiting and doing panel discussions, comic workshops, all sorts of awesome merchandise and more. 8 to 9 June.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival

Get ready for plenty of hot jazz this winter, from free lunchtime concerts by local up-and-comers to the legendary Herbie Hancock (now sold out). The Melbourne International Jazz Festival’s shows range from trad to contemporary genre-busters, on street corners, in clubs, concert halls and the Spigeltent. There are also workshops, films, family-friendly events and even free guided walks that reveal the city’s rhythms made up of everyday sounds. 31 May to 9 June

A group of musicians on stage playing various instruments

Melbourne International Jazz Festival

Wunderage

Circus Oz and fellow contemporary circus troupe Company 2 are collaborating on a new show that invites young and old to dream. Wunderage is a wondrous, immersive experience with no seats or barriers. Thrilling physical circus feats, live music and laughs happen around, beside and above the audience at this world premiere. 20 to 30 June.

Emerging Writers Festival 2019

Bookworms rejoice, the future of Australian literature converges in Melbourne in June, bringing together over 300 of the brightest and most vital voices in over 70 events, for the Emerging Writers Festival. Try your (pen) hand at art history in Ways of Looking at the NGV, learn about publishing or join a practical toolbox sessions at the National Writers’ Conference or don headphones and escape to the utopian and dystopian future libraries of 2222. 19 to 29 June.

Storytellers unite at the Emerging Writers Festival

Disney on Ice Celebrates Mickey and Friends

The world’s most amazing mouse turns 90 this year, so he’s gathering mates like the Toy Story team and the Disney Princesses. They’re putting on a show that’s larger than life, and on ice! Remember your childhood fondness for Mickey Mouse and introduce the kids to him when Disney on Ice Celebrates Mickey and Friends. 4 to 8 July.

Open House Melbourne

Now in its 12th year, Open House Melbourne is an annual highlight for aficionados of urban design and cool free stuff. The 200+ buildings on the 2019 program include the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’s new home and the re-born art deco Capitol Theatre. Access to some require bookings, so get in early. Or just see what happens on this big weekend of architecture, heritage and the seriously curious in normally off-limits spaces. There are also talks, tours and debates throughout July to get you primed. 27 to 28 July.

ACMI at the re-born Capitol Theatre: Viva Varda

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image has closed for major renovations, but don’t worry, the magic will continue off-site. Mainly at the art deco wonder that is The Capitol, which has emerged from its own transformation just in time. Be among the first to admire it anew: dive into French New Wave director Agnès Varda’s oeuvre during the Viva Varda season. 21 to 30 June.

People standing outside an old theatre lit up at night

ACMI’s cinema programs are coming to The Capitol

More live music in June

From  jazz in a tiny laneway bar to the never-ending stream of high profile touring acts that grace the city’s major venues, there’s something for every music lover in Melbourne. June live music highlights include: ARIA Award-winning vocal sensation Conrad Sewell, who kicks off the long weekend at the historic Forum Theatre on 7 June.  The following night (8 June), South Korean favourites Monsta X hit Margaret Court Arena, as part of their mammoth 2019 world tour, while US singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten  and the legendary Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier will grace the stage at Hamer Hall on 11 and 16 June respectively.

Don’t miss Wine, Whiskey and Women, a rousing female-led live music showcase, which runs Wednesday nights at The Drunken Poet. Featured artists in June include Megan Sidwell and Rachael Lia (12 June) and Carolyn Oates and Bandidas (19 June).  If you love creating music as much as listening to it, save the date for The Art of Lyric Writing, a part of Make Music Day (21 June) at Library at the Dock. Panellists include Jen Cloher, Peggy Frew and Oliver Mestitz. Find more music events in the city.

More winter wonders

Some major late-winter events are putting the finishing touches on their programs, but now’s the time to add them to your calendar. You don’t want to miss the Melbourne International Film Festival (1-18 August), White Night Melbourne (22-24 August) or Melbourne Writers Festival (30 August-8 September). Melbourne Art Fair should also be returning in August.

Blue and green projections lighting up the inside of a heritage building

White Night returns for winter