Where to spend summer nights in Melbourne

Don’t head home for two-minute noodles and TV when the sun goes down! From floating bars to alfresco films, make the most of summer in the city with some evening adventures.

Drift away

The guys behind Ponyfish, the island bar under Southbank’s pedestrian bridge, added another option for kicking back on the Yarra this summer. A 38-metre-long floating barge, Supafish lives up to its name with a fishy fantasy fit-out of steel and neon. There are cruisy tunes, bites by Mamasita and Hotel Jesus, and refreshments include Pimm’s on tap. Go early and go often, because there’s only capacity for 300, and it floats away at summer’s end.

A neon lit bar on the river shaped like a fish

Supafish

Arbory Bar and Eatery is the grown-up, Flinders Street Station equivalent of Harry Potter’s Platform 9¾. Its riverside magic is extended once again this summer with Arbory Afloat, a Mediterranean-inspired alfresco haven of blonde wood, blue and white. This floating bar’s food also has Med class (think lobster spaghetti and gelato); drinks chase the sun, from Prosecco to watermelon margarita. For our run-down on pop-ups this season, head to Summer pop-up bars in Melbourne.

bartenders milling about a bar which is overlooking the river

Arbory Afloat

Iconic evenings

The Australian Open 2018 brings the rock stars of tennis to Melbourne, including during extra-exciting evening sessions. Catch the on-court action, as well as on-site food trucks, pop-up restaurants, bars, entertainment and family activities. Your ground pass will also get you access to AO Live Stage, the Open’s companion music festival featuring 15 consecutive days of live concerts including Client Liaison, TLC, Tina Arena, Rudimental, Illy, Hoodoo Gurus. Even if you aren’t sporty, the free AO Festival next door is an ace place to hang out. There are giant screens showing the tennis, of course, plus DJs, food favourites like Gingerboy and drinkies made for balmy nights.

AO Live Stage

Melbourne Zoo is a year-round icon, but its pleasures continue well after sunset on summer weekends. Zoo Twilights delivers another program of top musical talent in 2018 including Cut Copy, The Preatures and Kate Miller-Heidke.  Get there early to say goodnight to the animals and stake your claim on the lawn’s prime real estate. Proceeds go to Zoos Victoria’s Fighting Extinction program. Some shows are already sold out so be quick!

Crowd on lawn enjoy Melbourne Zoo Twilights

Melbourne Zoo Twilights

The free NGV Triennial of local and international contemporary art is even more unmissable during NGV Triennial EXTRA. On the evenings of 19-28 January, this bonus program delivers more free awesomeness. Guest DJs from Dan Sultan to Dave Graney get the gallery into party mode. Chunky Move dance and Bell Shakespeare thesps do The Bard among Triennial artworks. The list goes on, from fun food to artful conversation. Head to Melbourne’s hot summer music events to find more about what’s on over summer.

Play the market

The Queen Victoria Market made all the right moves 20 years ago when it launched The Night Market. Its curated stalls, international street food, summertime drinks, entertainment and party lights soon became a Wednesday evening summer essential in the city. Celebrate this big anniversary your way. Banh mi and a beer or decadent mini pavlovas with fruity gin cocktails? Or gifts for you, like a vintage kimono or handcrafted leather journal?

A huge crowd of people milling in big sheds under fiary lights at a crowded market

The Night Market

There’s more market magic on Friday evenings at Melbourne’s new space for creatives, The District. Blender Artist Market – Docklands moved here this summer, offering shopping from left-of-centre like recycled paper craft and unique jewellery. Make a night of it with live music, food trucks, licensed bar and open artists studios. Go to our summer markets round-up for more markets in the city.

Outdoor movie magic

Moonlight Cinema in the Royal Botanic Gardens became an instant summer classic more than 20 years ago. It’s the alfresco film experience perfected, with licensed bar and catering on-site, and Bean Beds available for hire (but get in quick!). You can BYO of course, from cushions to Champagne, and friendly four-legged guests are welcome too.

One of Melbourne’s first sky-high movie venues, Rooftop Cinema recently had a makeover that pays homage to classic Art Deco drive-in design. Major improvements include a bigger bar, now backed by glass for even better city views, and retractable awnings. Arrive early for the pick of the deckchairs, and settle in with a burger, beverage and perhaps a blanket-for-hire if it’s chilly. Looking for more? Read our Melbourne guide to outdoor cinemas.