Travel the world at five free festivals

From gyoza to gözleme, lion dances to Zorba dancing, multicultural Melbourne is celebrating and you’re invited. Take to the streets at these free festivals packed with food, drinks, entertainment and fun activities.

32nd Lonsdale Street Greek Festival

Lonsdale Street may not have the Greek vibe it once did, but for one weekend every summer it’s bigger than Effie’s hairdo! The 32nd Lonsdale Street Greek Festival, which expanded by a whole block last year, is back. Eighty-plus food, drink and craft stalls take your Hellenic experience way beyond souvas and baklava. On her first Australian visit, Greek songbird Eleonora Zouganeli leads the entertainment. There are rides and activities for kids, while every Tom, Dick and Zoe will get into the Zorba Til You Drop competition. 23-24 February.

Lygon Street Multicultural Festival

Lygon Street is synonymous with Italian culture, but on one fun-filled day it’s where all of Melbourne’s communities can have fun. The Lygon Street Multicultural Festival is a family-friendly event promoting harmony between cultures and celebrating multiculturalism. Organised by the Anatolian Cultural Centre, it’s a feast of food and entertainment from around the world. Saturday 2 February.

Melbourne Japanese Summer Festival

Crazy about everything Japanese? Yet to embrace all the wonders of the Land of the Rising Sun? Either way, the Melbourne Japanese Summer Festival is a delightful cultural escape. There’s everything from traditional taiko drumming to contemporary dance performances to get you in the mood. Then check out lots of amazing Japanese food, arts and crafts, and have fun with games like toy-fishing. You could even win a trip to Tokyo! Sunday 24 February.

Gloved hand holding fish shaped cakes

Try tasty street food treats at the Japanese Summer Festival

Lunar New Year

Get ready for firecrackers, drums and dragons to sweep through the streets of Melbourne during Lunar New Year. Build up an appetite for all your favourite porky dishes too, because 2019 is the Year of the Pig. There are heaps of sights, sounds and flavours to enjoy around town, including in the traditional epicentre, Chinatown. Be there for the Chinatown Chinese New Year Festival on 10 February to see the remarkably long and lucky Dai Loong Dragon paraded through the streets and animated by over 200 people.

Make sure you also visit Queensbridge Square for the Chinese New Year Melbourne Festival, where the official countdown begins on 2 February. Come for the free cooking demos led by Masterchef winner Diana Chen, and stay for the dragon boat regatta, Chinese costume shows, stilt walkers and more. Other highlights include the Street of Chinese cuisine, running from 2 to 3 February, featuring Chinese New Year food such as dumplings, sweet rice cakes and spring rolls.

Another lunar new year hot spot is Crown, where the fireball towers are transformed into fire-breathing dragons by local artists for the Fire dragon Show. Crown also hosts a Lunar New Year Hawkers’ Bazaar, Kara-OK CompetitionArtVo Exhibition of optical illusions and a luminous, larger-than-life display of Chinese zodiac animals at the Zodiac Spectacular.

Other highlights include the Lantern Festival at Queen Victoria Market and Dragon Boat Festival at Docklands. 2-17 February. Read our guide to Lunar New Year for more.

Large yellow puppet lions and man in mask outside shop with lanterns in window

Lion dancing at Queen Victoria Market

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.