Free things to do in Melbourne in March

The start of March means the end of summer, when you’ve spent every last dollar on ice-cream and cocktails. Need to get cashed up again? Have fun while you’re at it with these free events, from Moomba to the Grand Prix and even a pizza festival.

Moomba Festival

Australia’s largest community festival returns for yet another long weekend filled with fun and bursting with colour. Moomba Festival highlights include perennial favourites the Birdman Rally and the Moomba Parade. From carnival rides to kids activities, there’s heaps of stuff that little ones will love. Everyone will enjoy the nightly fireworks and feast of food options, from fairyfloss carts to gourmet food trucks. 8-11 March.

Fireworks over the river at night

The fireworks at Moomba

Long Chim Full Moon Festival

Thailand’s full moon parties come to Crown Riverwalk as one of the precinct’s favourite restaurants turns up the heat and tropical flavours. Long Chim Full Moon Festival includes Thai street-food stalls, bars, live entertainment and a few neon-lit surprises. This Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event is only on for three days, so put it in your diary now. 22-24 March.

Gradi Italian Festival

Whether you’ve got Italian heritage or just wish you were in Tuscany, the Gradi Italian Festival is a must in March. Hosted by Crown’s Italian hot spot, Gradi, it’s three big days of food, drinks, live entertainment and kids activities. From pizza (including gluten-free) to pasta, cannoli to gelato, this Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event is a taste of la dolce vita. 15-17 March.

Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival

Far from being fashionably late, the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) arrives right on time to give our autumn/winter wardrobes a makeover. If the big-ticket events take you further away from affording that perfect new look, don’t worry. There’s free entry to festival central The Plaza throughout, including for the Plaza Block Party.

Check out pop-up runways by Jume and streetwear social enterprise HoMie and groove to the DJs. Freshen up your wardrobe and help save the planet at the Global Fashion Exchange. 1-10 March.

A courtyard at night in front of a heritage building with lights hanging above a crowd of people

VAMFF’s plaza block party

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 first Ottoman-style marching band outside Turkey. Try everything from savoury gözleme to authentic Turkish delight, and Turkish coffee made the traditional way – on a hot bed of sand. 9-10 March.

Fed in French

For a few days during early autumn’s golden glow, it will be easy to imagine that the Yarra is Paris’ River Seine. Fed in French brings you the street food of France, from the Mediterranean-influenced bouillabaisse of Marseille to the Alps’ raclette. Plus lots of délicieux wines of course, from Bordeaux to Champagne. When you can’t possibly squeeze in another crepe or crème brûlée, browse the goodies to go, like cheese, charcuterie and macarons. 29-31 March.

Formula 1 Season Launch

For the first time in F1 sporting history, all 20 drivers and all 10 Team Principals will appear together to launch the 2019 Formula 1 season. Fuel fanatics can catch the awesome live show along with DJ’s, entertainment and live local music at Federation Square on 13 March.

A large crowd of people in deck chairs at a large open square

Formula 1 will launch their 2019 season at Federation Square

Melbourne Art Book Fair

Did you know that the National Gallery of Victoria is the southern hemisphere’s largest art and design publisher? Since the 1860s, it has published and distributed thousands of scholarly publications. So who better to host the Melbourne Art Book Fair? The NGV’s Great Hall will become a marketplace for art and design publishers, and also a place to exchange pre-loved books. There are also talks, workshops and an all-day symposium. 15-17 March.

Kensington Community Festival

A key event during Victoria’s Cultural Diversity Week, the Kensington Community Festival returns for its 11th year of multicultural good times. There’s music from China to the Caribbean, activities to try like tai chi and African drumming, and food from around the globe. This family-friendly event also offers fun, active challenges courtesy of Kensington’s sporting clubs, plus the Sustainable Living Expo. From beekeeping advice to getting small appliances fixed on the spot, it helps everyone care for the planet we all call home. 31 March.

Open Air Trivia

Pub trivia is an awesome way to escape winter’s chill, but it’s even better outdoors on balmy evenings by the water. With $10 frozé, $28 jugs of sangria and, of course, classic parmas with a bottle of Coopers for $20 (among other specials). Gather your brainiest buddies, put on your thinking caps and get down to Open Air Trivia. Tuesdays until 26 March.

An outdoor beer garden with white umbrellas

Take on trivia and a few tinnies at the Common Man

River Graze

One of the Melbourne Food and Wine festival’s busiest annual events, River Graze, will see an entire kilometre of the Yarra river bank transformed into a culinary playground.  Food trucks, wine tasting stations, sweet treats and more will line the riverside, creating a buzzing festival atmosphere. 22-24 March.

Melbourne Storm family Day

Fans can kick off the hotly anticipated 2019 Melbourne Storm season with a free afternoon party in Gosch’s Paddock. See the players in all their glory, meet them in an autograph sessions and take on all the live entertainment and activities. The Melbourne Storm Family Day runs from noon to 3pm on 10 March.

Melbourne Conversations: Safety and the city

Did you know that more than 900,000 people move through Melbourne on a daily basis? Join a panel of expert speakers at Safety and the City as they discuss, theorise and explore how this volume of people can be kept safe in Melbourne, from morning to night. Discussion topics will include public transport, travel, construction and more. On Thursday 7 March as part of the 2019 Open Innovation Challenge.