Melbourne’s essential spring events

From the Melbourne International Arts Festival and Royal Melbourne Show to Oktoberfest and a new circus spectacular, we’ve found the best reasons to stop hibernating.

Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness

The New York artist known as KAWS acknowledges modern life’s darkness and offers a hopeful response with his human-cartoon hybrid characters infused with pop culture. In an Australian first, the NGV’s Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness exhibition explores his 25-year (and counting) career with 100+ works. It includes a newly commissioned monumental bronze sculpture, plus there’s the Kaws: Playtime exhibition just for kids. 20 September-13 April.

A blue sculpture shaped like a small monster slash man sits on a white pedestal against a white background

KAWS at NGV

Oktoberfest

Get your lederhosen and dirndls ready, because it’s almost Bavarian beer o’clock. Start early with the 900-seat Munich Brauhaus’ Oktoberfest Launch Party on 21 and 22 September, or save yourself for the main event. Oktoberfest in the Gardens is an all-day celebration at the Showgrounds on 19 October. This festival of Bavarian-style good times includes eclectic entertainment, from a brass band and accordion players to local bands and DJs. There’s also on-stage competitions such as bratwurst eating, and of course lots of authentic German food and beers. Prost!

Melbourne International Arts Festival

Melbourne’s biggest and boldest arts bonanza returns from 2-20 October. To kick things off, head to Federation Square to witness the festival’s traditional opening ceremony, Tanderrum, featuring performances by the city’s First Peoples. Other Melbourne International Arts Festival highlights include The Nico Project, celebrating one of pop culture’s most enigmatic figures, and eight new Melbourne Art Trams weaving through the city. 2-20 October.

Royal Melbourne Show

For generations, the Royal Melbourne Show has been a spring school holidays highlight. The 2019 edition is as big as ever, with 11 days of wonderful things to see and do. Jump on a thrilling ride, check our the monster trucks, ooh and ahh at the fireworks and admire 4000-plus exhibits of art, craft and cookery vying for blue ribbons. From choosing the ultimate showbag to finding their favourite among thousands of animals, kids won’t have a moment to be bored. 21 September-1 October.

A carnival atmosphere with crowds around different rides and attractions

Royal Melbourne Show

Circus Oz – Aurora

Roll up, roll up! The latest big-top spectacular from Circus Oz: Aurora is in the Royal Botanic Gardens, with both day and evening shows, from 18 September to 6 October. Expect fantastic foot-juggling, unbelievable balancing acts, high-flying acrobatics and hilarious physical comedy, plus beautiful artistry including projections, and the Circus Oz band.

ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Final

Summer means cricket, but spring is when the season begins, and this year we’ve got the men’s 20-20 World Cup. Teams from around the globe will bash balls and smash wickets in eight cities across Australia to see who gets to play the big one. The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Final is at the MCG on 15 November.

Rutherglen in the City

Near the NSW border, Victoria’s Rutherglen wine region is a bit of a hike from Melbourne. The good news is, 16 wineries are bringing their pop-up cellar doors to you when Rutherglen in the City returns on 5-6 October. Taste the region’s famous muscats, including in some surprising muscat cocktails. There will also be plenty of Rutherglen’s celebrated red wine varietal, durif, on offer. Chat to the makers, even boost your knowledge at a free masterclass, enjoy artisanal food and live music, and buy a few bottles for later.

A crowd of people at an event underneath decorated glass ceilings

Rutherglen in the city

The Chemical Brothers

From their 1995 debut album Exit Planet Dust to this year’s No Geography, this UK electronic duo keep making chart-topping, Grammy-winning tunes. The Chemical Brothers’ block rockin’ beats are especially awesome at their live shows. So get in quick for the hit-fuelled audio-visual experience making its way around the world. It’s coming to Melbourne for one night only on 5 November.

Gigs at Birds Basement

One of the hottest jazz spots in town will be hosting sweet gigs in the latter half of the year. The smooth jazz trio that is ‘Urbanity’, made up of multi-award nominees Albare and Phil Turcio, will bring their unique mellow grooves to BB for three nights in September. Or catch the phenomenal Renee Geyer in November and December  as she performs a range of soul, rock, blues, jazz, pop and reggae songs in her distinct and powerful voice.

A cocktail with a foamy top on a wooden bench

Have a drink at Birds Basement

More dates for your spring diary

Get ready for all the colour and excitement of the AFL Grand Final week, including four days of family-friendly fun at the AFL Footy Festival (25 – 28 September) and Toyota AFL Grand Final Parade on 27 September. The city’s sporting love affair doesn’t stop, because after footy season it’s time for the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Also on the horizon is the unveiling of the new MPavilion on 14 November – stay tuned for its 500+ free events! Melbourne Music Week kicks off on 14 November too, with the full program announced on 25 September.