There’s no need to blow your budget to beat the winter blues. From jazz and truffle festivals to the Winter Night Market’s return, here’s the best free stuff to give you a warm glow.
Gin month at Chuckle Park
World Gin Day who? Real gin aficionados know that this mighty spirit deserves a full 31 days of celebration. All throughout June Chuckle Park will be hosting different boutique gin producers – like Melbourne Moonshine Company and Cedar Fox Distilling Co. – to create an entire month of bespoke G&Ts, DIY cocktails, gin-themed park parties, gin goon bags (seriously) and more. All gin month events are free, so sip away and let the good times be-gin!
Truffle Melbourne Festival
Celebrated as the world’s biggest truffle festival after six years, with 40,000 getting along last year, Truffle Melbourne Festival is back with more savoury sensations this June.
Highlights include truffle cooking demos by top chefs, and a mock hunt by truffle dogs Arrow and Spice. Bring some loot, because you’ll definitely want to taste this festival. There are irresistible bites like Black Angus truffle burgers from the new Truffle Truck, truffle cocktails, cider and ale. Products to take home include truffle honey and actual fresh truffles. Yum! 22 and 23 June.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival
Want to see some cool cats at the jazz fest but feeling the heat from your melting credit card? Then don’t miss Southern Cross Lane Lunchtime Jazz, or the final Juilliard Free Lunchtime Jazz sessions featuring Elle Shimada and Phoebe Day. Or the guided Soundwalks, which reveal the city’s rhythms made up of everyday sounds like bells, birds and buskers. Until 7 June.
Winter Night Market
Free live entertainment and a silent disco. Open fires and pretty party lights. Warm cider, mulled wine and hot chocolate. Oodles of street-food vendors offering warming dishes from around the world, like curry and paella. Fifty more stalls selling lovely things to brighten your winter, like handmade candles and jewellery. Yes, the Winter Night Market is back! 5 June to 28 August.
Taste of Portugal
Discover why Portugal’s a hot travel destination right now, and get better acquainted with other Portuguese-speaking countries from Brazil to East Timor. The Taste of Portugal festival is loaded with Latin living, including dance classes, live music, kids activities and handicraft demos. It’s free but be prepared to hit your hip pocket for temptations like Portuguese ceramics and Brazilian street food. Or maybe even book a holiday inspired by the tourism displays and photo exhibition. Saturday 9 June.
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. Drummers, 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.
City Cellar Door
You’ve probably dined or at least had a sophisticated coffee break at Cumulus Inc, but have you been upstairs to the bar? The monthly City Cellar Door free wine tasting event is an excellent excuse to check out Cumulus Up. Winter’s first edition is all about central Victorian vineyards like Jasper Hill and Best’s. Saturday 1 June.
Snapped: Our Changing Melbourne Exhibition
The winners and shortlisted entries of the City of Melbourne Libraries biennial photography competition are now on show. The Snapped: Our Changing Melbourne Exhibition reveals the most inspired and inspiring images drawn from a record number of entries. Photographers captured the city in its many moods, from colourful Hosier Lane to a black-and-white portrait of a man on a tram. Until 7 July.
Fitzroy Market Pop-Up
Fitzroy comes to Chinatown for a few more weeks courtesy of its community market’s artisans, designers and purveyors of vintage treasures. It’s free to browse and soak up the funky Fitzrovian vibe, but bring some funds for the Fitzroy Market Pop-Up’s temptations. Until 16 June.
Melbourne Kitchen Project
Artist Meg Rennie recently visited all sorts of Melburnians to create a series of illustrated portraits set in their kitchens. The results are on show at the Melbourne Kitchen Project exhibition, which explores the connections between food, family, community and culture. Get organised if you want to catch this three-day-only exhibition that’s part of the Emerging Writers Festival. 20 to 23 June.
Young imaginations can go wild at ArtPlay, with an immersive experience called Beneath (until 1 September). This underwater wonderland made of recycled plastic was nominated for Best Kids Event at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe. It’s full of surprising creatures, strange sounds, and food for thought about where our plastic waste goes. There’s also Inside Out (until 2 June), a play date for little kids to get creative with everything from ribbons to shadows.
This exhibition by Ngarigo artist Peter Waples-Crowe explores the inherent contradictions of being part of both Aboriginal and queer cultures. Presented at the Koorie Heritage Trust, insideOUT is a showcase of his distinctive collage and recent experimentations with animation and fashion. Until 28 July.