Free things to do in Melbourne on the Labour Day weekend

The Labour Day long weekend on 9-11 March should be about enjoying life away from work to the max. In a post-summer financial slump? Minimise the cost with these free events.

Moomba Festival

Australia’s largest community festival returns for yet another long weekend filled with fun and bursting with colour. Highlights of this year’s Moomba Festival include perennial favourites the Birdman Rally and Moomba Parade.

There’s heaps of stuff for kids, from designing a parade float to carnival rides on both sides of the river. Everyone will enjoy the nightly fireworks and feast of food options, from fairyfloss to Greek and Jamaican street food.

A carnival ride upside down, lit up in the afternoon twilight

Rides at the Moomba carnival

The Clock – final days

The long weekend is your last chance to see The Clock, Christian Marclay’s 24-hour video installation at ACMI. This cult masterpiece gathers thousands of moments from cinematic history featuring clocks, watches and related symbols. The clock is literally ticking on this mindblowing collage seen by hundreds of thousands, from London’s Tate Modern to New York’s MoMA. Find the time!

Wonder Woman

Watch Wonder Woman at Fed Square to kick off the long weekend and celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March. The new giant outdoor screen will light up with Gal Gadot as the fearless DC Comics superhero. While you’re there, check out the freshly installed reproduction of the Fearless Girl statue, best known for defying Wall Street’s rampaging bull.

AFL Women’s Competition

Despite big crowds for it’s first two seasons, entry to AFLW games is still free in 2019. So get down to the Round 6 Marvel Stadium double header or Ikon Park Blues v Lions clash for an affordable, old-fashioned day at the footy. Well, not totally old-fashioned, because there’s hardly a bloke to be seen on the ground, and meat-pie prices are decidedly 21st century.

Turkish Pazar Festival

The Queen Victoria Market is transforming into a traditional Turkish bazaar for two days of food, music, crafts and culture. Entertainment at the Turkish Pazar Festival is free and family friendly, including a performance by the only Ottoman-style marching band outside Turkey. But bring some funds for an authentic Turkish coffee and tasty treats, from baklava to gözleme.

Traditional arabic dessert Baklava with honey and walnuts, selective focus.

Try Turkish baklava at the Pazar Festival

Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival

If the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival’s big-ticket events get you further away from affording that perfect autumn/winter look, try The Plaza. Entry to fashion’s ground zero is free throughout the festival, but Saturday 9 March is the date to mark in your calendar. That’s when The Plaza Block Party blows up with free workshops, DJs and runway shows by local emerging labels Jume and HoMie. Bring some clothes that no longer fill you with joy to swap at the Global Fashion Exchange. Freshen up your wardrobe and help save the planet for zero dollars!

San Antone Smokehouse Festival

Set that snag in bread aside, because Texas-style barbecue is on the menu at this free Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event. Follow the smoke and savoury scent to the San Antone Smokehouse Festival, which is all about 14-hour slow-cooked meat. Have a taste, watch the big smoker in action, and kick back to live blues throughout the long weekend.

A black table top with boxes full of burgers and other smoked meats

San Antone BBQ festival

Melbourne Storm Family Day

Our rugby league team came off second best in last year’s grand final, but that’s only made them hungrier in 2019. The Melbourne Storm Family Day is their official season launch, so come see the boys receive their jerseys. Then it’s time to meet them for autographs and photos, and maybe buy a new jersey for yourself and the kids. They can get into some skills-based challenges too, as well as inflatable rides and face painting.