Essential winter events in Melbourne

Melbourne’s buzzing arts scene comes alive in winter. From exclusive exhibitions, to vibrant festivals to the world of international cinema, there’s plenty to keep you exploring the great indoors.

MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art

In a unique survey of the iconic collection from MoMA New York, works ranging from Paul Cézanne to Frida Kahlo, Roy Lichtenstein to Cindy Sherman will journey to Melbourne this winter. MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art will be accompanied by an energetic NGV Friday Nights program, which sees the gallery come alive with music, food and performances after dark. Runs Saturday 9 June to Sunday 7 October.

a painting of a series of clocks melting in a surreal landscape

Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory (1931) will be at MoMA at NGV
© 2016 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society, New York

Docklands’ Firelight Festival

The opening weekend of Docklands Firelight Festival, from Friday 29 June to Sunday 1 July, will reflect the traditions of the Winter Solstice, with art, food and feasting, music, fire and light in a weekend of family-friendly celebrations. A month-long program follows, featuring long-table dining experiences, progressive dinners inspired by fire and smoke, and live music.

A performer breathing fore in front of a crowded audience at a festival

The Firelight Festival is returning to Docklands at the end of June

MSO Bernstein Celebration and Mid-Season Gala

Celebrating the centenary of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra presents a trio of Bernstein performances across July and August highlighting the different arcs of his career. Events include Bernstein Classics, a screening of West Side Story with a live score accompaniment and Bernstein on Broadway. MSO also presents its Mid-Season Gala on Saturday 23 June featuring superstar violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter in her first ever Melbourne performance.

Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)

Returning for its 67th event, MIFF is one of the world’s great film festivals. Programmed straight from the major international festivals including Cannes, Sundance and Berlin, there’s also a swag of Australian world premieres. At less than $20 a pop for a ticket (or buy a pass to really get your fill) MIFF is a must-do winter experience. Thursday 2 to Sunday 19 August.

A group of people talking and drinking at a bar inside an old theatre

The Melbourne International Film Festival presents a feast of Australian and international cinema

Melbourne Writers Festival

There’s no time to rest once MIFF closes, because the Melbourne Writers Festival kicks off Friday 24 August to Sunday 2 September. Pulitzer Prize-winner Ronan Farrow and the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum are already announced. This year’s event, the first for Artistic Director Marieke Hardy, is already shaping up to be a talking point for the year.

Melbourne Art Fair

The flagship event of Melbourne Art Week, Melbourne Art Fair takes place for the first time in a temporary structure in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) forecourt, in the heart of the Southbank arts precinct. 40 galleries will present the newest and most respected contemporary artists from Australia and the region. Complementing the main event is a dynamic program of tours, exhibitions and talks in partnership with local cultural institutions and galleries. Thursday 2 to Sunday 5 August.

Winter Night Market

One of the city’s most beloved experiences is the Queen Victoria Market’s Wednesday evening incarnation, The Winter Night Market. Choose from more than 30 global street food stalls and a selection of warm drinks (mulled wine, anyone?) and cold beers. There’s plenty of atmosphere from raging open fires, quirky entertainers and Melbourne’s finest live music acts. Browse over 50 specialty and locally-made retail stalls. Returns Wednesday 6 June.

A performer juggling fire in front of a crowd at a night market

The Winter Night Market begins on Wednesday 6 June


Celebrating Lewis Carroll’s timeless stories including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Wonderland explores how the moving image has kept Alice and her stories in the public consciousness. This interactive display includes some of the earliest optical toys through to silent film, animation, puppetry, live-action cinema, video games, CGI, 3D and beyond. See it before it closes on Sunday 7 October.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N exhibition

Delve into the science, history, engineering, genetics and technology of superheroes at this Marvel-themed interactive exhibition. Get up close to Captain America’s uniform or Iron Man’s suit, and test your strength with Thor’s mighty hammer. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Midtown Diner‘s special pop-up for some New York fare. On until Sunday 15 July.

A giant metal suit on display in an exhibition

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. is on at Federation Square for a limited time

Emerging Writers Festival

Now in its 15th year, the Emerging Writers Festival has a reputation as one of the most well-respected literary festivals in the land. A two-day National Writers’ Conference features among the program of in-depth talks, workshops, parties and panels to help budding authors build networks. Start your creative writing journey here, Tuesday 19 to Friday 29 June.

Open House Melbourne

If you’ve ever wanted to see behind the façade of your favourite building or wander the halls of a historic house, Open House lets you to do just that. Over 200 buildings around the city will open their doors to the public during this epic weekend. Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 July.

Vikings: Beyond the Legend

This fascinating exhibition at Melbourne Museum delves into Viking domestic life, rituals and beliefs. Over 450 artefacts tell their colourful story, debunking the old-fashioned myth of pillaging and plundering pagans in horned helmets. Until Sunday 26 August.

Vikings is on throughout winter at Melbourne Museum.
Image: Brooch (bronze, gilded) Grave find Björkö, Adelsö, Uppland, Sweden.