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Free things to do in Melbourne in August

Enjoy the last month of winter even if money’s tight, with this bonanza of free stuff to do. From a new augmented reality art walk to White Night and free events at some of Melbourne’s biggest festivals, we’ve got you covered!

White Night Reimagined

Now spread over three winter nights, one of Melbourne’s favourite free events is back. White Night Reimagined is a sensory feast of projections, light sculptures, giant puppets, aerial performers, super-sized lantern creatures, interactive installations and more. Start planning now to make the most of all the free nocturnal wonder. 22-24 August.

People in a park at night gathered around a glowing purple orb exhibit

White Night

Melbourne Fashion Week

There’s an abundance of free fun and inspiration at Melbourne Fashion Week. Like the street runways in Chinatown, South Wharf and city laneways. See one of six fashion capsule exhibits from fashion photography to cufflinks and one inspired by First Nations design. Mingle with the city’s most stylish over drinks and DJs in the  Forecourt. Or attend a pop-up fashion event, a hat workshop and of course Vogue American Express Fashion’s Night Out. 28 August-5 September.

Three models dressed in various high end fashions standing outdoors in front of a large heritage building

Melbourne Fashion Week

Melbourne Writers Festival

One of the city’s biggest and best annual cultural events returns with another packed program, from intellectual debates to wonderfully wordy performances. Maximise your Melbourne Writers Festival experience during Graphic Art Day, an entire day featuring workshops and in-conversation events with some of your favourite graphic novelists and artists. Or check out a selection of free events in partnership with the First Nations literary festival including Blak and Bright, and the Coffee and Conversation series hosted by creative coaches and commentators. 30 August-8 September.

Anything but Square Festival

Times are a changing, and so is Federation Square. Immerse yourself in this iconic part of Melbourne during August at the Anything But Square Festival. If sensory dining and underground bar are out of your price range, check out the beautiful Winter Garden. Featuring thousands of blooms created by independent makers, this colourful display is brightening up the dreary Melbourne winter. Or take part in a global phenomenon at #Tweetups, where the inside of a golden shipping container offers you a face to face chat with strangers from across the globe.

Melbourne International Film Festival

It’s time to hide away in darkened cinemas for days on end with the return of Melbourne International Film Festival. Stay sane and stretch the budget with a few free and sociable events like Melbourne Conversations: Australian Cities on Film. Take your cinematic experience to the next level before and after your film screening with eats, drinks and entertainment throughout the fest at the MIFF Salon. This new incarnation of the much-loved MIFF Lounge will be held at the restored Art Deco picture palace The Capitol. 1-18 August.

A crowd of people indoors at a gala event in front of a stage

Melbourne International Film Festival

Indian Film Festival of Melbourne

This big film festival is happening all over Melbourne, including in the city’s heart for the free IFFM Day at Fed Square on 10 August. After a flag-raising ceremony, the celebration of Indian culture goes into overdrive. There’s even a Bollywood dance competition that attracts performers from across the nation. 8-17 August.

Flinders Quarter Augmented Art Walk

Public art comes to life with a free app that guides you through one of the city’s busiest, most creative precincts like never before. For one month only, the Flinders Quarter Augmented Art Walk will transform several sites above and below ground using augmented reality and storytelling. 14 August-14 September.

Refuge 2019: Displacement

The Refuge 2019: Displacement festival will drop you in the hot seat to consider how we as a community can rally in the face of floods, heat, pandemics and displacement. Discover local plants that can be used as nourishment and shelter during the Portage: Shelter – Weavers Walk or attend one of several talks and sessions like the Words Nourish Neighbours dinner. 24 August-7 September.

People sitting on the floor inside a multi coloured tent

Take refuge at Arts House

Craft Cubed Festival

Now in its 10th crafty year, the Craft Cubed Festival celebrates all things handmade. The month-long program includes lots of free exhibitions like See You in the Soup, featuring cute bird puppets, storyboards and props used to make the stop-motion animated film of the same name – which you can also see. Soooo cute! 1-31 August.

Winter Night Market

Don’t miss the Winter Night Market’s last month for 2019. The market is free to attend and features live entertainment, open fires and pretty party lights. Other warming pleasures require a little dip into your funds. Who can resist mulled wine and hot chocolate (by local legend Mörk no less) or dishes from around the world by oodles of street-food vendors, including Pierogi Pierogi and Melted Cheese Bar. You can also browse handmade goods from fifty market stalls selling candles, jewellery, plants and more. Wednesday nights until 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 at QVM

More free August action

  • Hurry if you want to be part of the Guitar Art Workshop on 2 August. It’s free but bookings are essential and space is limited.
  • The Melbourne Storm Multicultural Festival (25 August) sees our NRL club celebrating a world of food and culture with the local community.
  • The one-day Festival of Soil (18 August) is a chance for tweens to discover the planet’s tiniest organisms through art, science and storytelling.
  • View 25 stunning oil paintings by Graeme Myrteza at Landscape in Light, a new exhibition on from 1 August at the Owen Dixon Chambers.