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Things to do in Melbourne in August

August's best events in one place – it's your social emergency saviour for fun things to do in Melbourne in August

Adena Maier
Written by
Adena Maier

Wondering what to do in Melbourne in August? We can help. Scroll down for our curated guide of the best attractions, events and places to visit in Melbourne this month. And if you're keen to make the most of winter, try these hot chocolates, mulled wines or great winter getaways

Looking to plan ahead? Here are the best things to do in Melbourne in September. 

The best things to do in August

  • Things to do
  • Markets
  • Melbourne

It's always sad when the Queen Victoria Summer Night Market comes to an end, but the silver lining is that it means the Winter Night Market is on the horizon. This year, it'll kick off on June 1 and run every Wednesday until August 31, so rug up and warm yourself up from the inside out with cosy eats and hot beverages.

This year, more than 35 of Melbourne's best street food traders, including returning favourites and Market first-timers, will be serving up delicious winter menus. Expect decadent burnt Basque and Biscoff cheesecakes from M&G Caiafa, all manner of tacos from the Happy Mexican, roasted local chestnuts from the Apple Corner, falafel platters from the Black Sheep, wood-fired pizza from 400 Gradi and pasta tossed in cheese wheels from That's Amore Cheese. All of these belly-warmers will pair well with warm beverages like hot gin toddies, warmed spiced cider and mulled wine by the likes of ReWineColdstream Brewery and Antagonist Spirits

As always, you can expect roving performers and a rotating line-up of homegrown talent playing live music on the market's main stage. Before you settle in beside one of the many roaring open fires, be sure to explore the dozens of stalls selling locally-sourced and handmade products including jewellery, art, skincare, books and homewares. 

If you've watched American holiday movies and dreamed of enjoying a white Christmas, you're in luck: come mid-season, the market will turn into a winter wonderland. Rug up in your winter woollies and prepare to be delighted by snow, Christmas trees, decorations and festive activities. 

Looking for more things to do? Check out our round-up of the best things happening in Melbourne this week.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Melbourne

It’s Christmas for Potterheads. Three years after its celebrated opening at the expensively refurbished Princess Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is taking an apt step back in time with a second premiere, this time of a streamlined one-play version that carves a good three hours off of its original running time. There are various motivations for this. Even for ardent devotees or seasoned theatre veterans, six hours in a seat is a slog, and once killed-for tickets had become readily available. But what could have been a cynical hatchet job has turned out to be the making of this show. The main pillars of the story remain – picking up where JK Rowling’s novels ended, we meet the children of famed wizard Harry Potter as they depart for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, the enduring friendships that kept Harry alive are elusive for Harry’s awkward son Albus, and when he fails to live up to the towering expectations of not just his school but the entire wizarding world, his sole friendship becomes both his greatest refuge and his biggest vulnerability.

But while you might reasonably assume that this is a play about magic, you’d be wrong. This is a play about love. Which should come as no surprise – love is quite literally the most powerful, death-defying force in JK Rowling’s seven-book saga. What is surprising however, is how one of the greatest juggernaut fiction franchises of all time has leaned – comfortably, credibly, with heart-rending sensitivity – into a queer romance.

Many people who strapped in to the six-hour theatrical marathon that was the original two-show format of the Cursed Child were left frustrated by the almost-but nature of the relationship between the two main protagonists, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy (yes, son of that Malfoy). A story (no spoilers – #keepthesecrets) that spends such extravagant resources to explore a connection that overcomes alternative realities, the boundless void of uncreation and simply being a teenager with overbearing parents, yanked the rug from beneath the audience’s feet with a couple of clunky lines that frankly retconned the hours of storytelling they’d just witnessed. However, in this streamlined one-play version, whatever tentativeness that may have held back fully embracing this facet of the narrative seems to have lifted. Now, this wondrous show, jam-packed with spectacle and surprise, is one of the most authentic, moving, beautifully told coming out stories ever seen on stage.

The original conjuring of Cursed Child had one clear imperative. JK Rowling’s sequel to her blockbusting novels would be an unappologetic ode to the worldwide fandom that had embraced the wizarding world of Potter and Co down to the swish and flick of the smallest charm. But this also posed a problem. With a marathon performance (with a hefty pricetag) that relied so heavily on fan service, a swathe of potential ticket buyers, uninitated into the Potterverse, were held at arm’s length.

While some knowledge of Potter’s history is still somewhat a prerequisite, many of the recent changes to story have jettisoned the winks, nods, and barefaced indulgences to the novels and distilled the narrative to focus on more universal truths – of course packaged in a way that still makes use of the extraordinary stage craft and sorcery that made the two-show OG one of the most successful stage shows on both Broadway and the West End.

But how could such a success lose almost half of its running time and remain intact? It’s a question of economy of narrative. Those who are only familiar with the films of the original seven novels may be used to more disciplined plots than those that actually exist in Rowling’s pages. Indeed, the beats of the original script of the Cursed Child, penned by Rowling in partnership with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, were at times so head-spinningly convoluted with call-backs, flashbacks, back-to-the-future divergences, it was tricky to keep a handle on every parallel story arc in motion. By losing some of the zanier corners of the story, the action feels more nimble, the plot more agile, and the emotional poigniancy that thrives beyond the whizbangs of the wandwork shines even brighter. It makes certain scenes that might have seemed inconsequential in the scheme of six hours of theatre hit even harder and individual lines that might have seemed throwaway blaze into memory.

But fear not, this edit doesn’t shortchange audiences when it comes to jaw-drops. Oooohs and aaahhs and how-the-hells? still abound in this bewitching triumph, amplified by the fleet-footed choreography of Steve Hoggart and buoyant, poppy score by Imogen Heap. Which is important, because seeing magic tricks before your eyes is an experience that the sterile ease of CGI simply cannot touch. To see wands waved in real life and for spells to literally spring from them is a thrill that remains entirely unchanged in the new Cursed Child, but without the uniformly stellar performances of this Australian cast, they would be nothing more than parlour tricks. Nyx Calder as Scorpius is deeply endearing in his awkward, quirky account that is clearly the product of many hundreds of hours inhabiting this role, while Ben Walter’s quiet frustrations and subtle yearnings as Albus Potter are a perfect echo of the internal battles many young people conceal while they are discovering their identity. 

Harry Potter and Cursed Child was always more than the sum of its parts; such is the way of magic. But somehow, it has pulled out an even more impressive trick – by losing so much of its length and yet somehow saying more. 

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne

Is Hamilton, the smash-hit American history musical that won a whopping 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize when it debuted on Broadway in 2015 and won the hearts of critics and audiences the world over, as good as everyone says?

In a word, yes. If you want to stop reading here and just book your tickets, we’ll understand. 

There is a reason it is the most hyped show on Earth, and its writer and first star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is now a household name. Some 3 million people watched the musical when it appeared on Disney+ in July 2020, and almost 8 million more have seen it live, in cities across the US, in London’s West End and in Sydney. Now it’s Melbourne's turn, with the show taking over Her Majesty's Theatre

With the soundtrack available on Spotify and the original Broadway cast version available to anyone with a Disney+ account on demand, Hamilton is competing not so much with other musicals for your dollars and attention (there are no other shows of this type that can match the show’s tactical brilliance), but with itself. Most in the audience are at least familiar with the show by this point, and quite a few are able to mouth along to every word behind their masks. If you can see the original Broadway version any time you want and listen to the soundtrack 24 hours a day, what power does the staged version still hold? 

In a word, magic. The entire cast is extraordinary, with every one of Andy Blankenbuehler's dance moves sharp as a tack and the constantly shifting stage a whirlwind of activity. Seeing it all click together like a precision-built Swiss watch is intoxicating. There are genuine thrills from the first notes to the final bows, and there is an enormous amount of nuance that doesn't come through in the soundtrack alone, as brilliant as it is.

Jason Arrow is electrifying in the titular role, with a thousand-watt movie star smile and a cheeky self-confidence that makes the ‘polymath, pain in the ass, massive pain’ softer and far more charming than Miranda’s acerbic turn in the role. He’s perfect as the firebrand revolutionary full of ideals and ambition, and you can’t help but be in his corner. But Hamilton really is a two-hander, with Hamilton’s best frenemy Aaron Burr at least as large a presence as Alexander. Lyndon Watts is magnetic in the role, pulling focus in every scene he’s in. He has the perfect mixture of jealousy, desperation and reckless self-aggrandisement to put real pathos into tragedy. There’s gorgeous beauty in key song ‘Dear Theodosia’ that is moving and raw, and his soaring 'Wait For It' is heart-wrenching.

Melbourne had fought to secure Hamilton's first Australian run but lost that battle due to our repeated lockdowns. That turns out to be in Melbourne's favour, however, as the show grew and matured during its Sydney run and is now even more nuanced and tight. Performances are more clever – and much funnier – than they were in March 2021. Arrow in particular mugs and swaggers with a confidence and joie de vivre that befits his character's playboy arrogance. 

It was perhaps fitting, in this age of swings and understudies holding up the world, that principal Chloé Zuel was missing on opening night in the role of Eliza Schuyler, Hamilton's wife. Zuel was absolutely extraordinary in her performance in Sydney, but the role was filled by understudy Tigist Strode on opening night here. Eliza is the lynchpin of the show and its moral centre, and she has not only the most powerful song but also the literal last word (and famous last gasp). If Strode was nervous to fill into such important buckle shoes she didn't show it, stretching the silence in 'Burn' and radiating a rage that was felt all the way in the back of Her Majesty's. 

The opening night crowd clearly knew the show well, with beloved characters like George Washington (Matu Ngaropo), Thomas Jefferson (Victory Ndukwe, also playing Lafayette), King George III (Brent Hill) and Hercules Mulligan (played with a joyful exuberance by Shaka Cook) and Eliza and sisters Angelica (Akina Edmonds) and Peggy (Elandrah Eramiha) all drawing raucous applause. In fact, when Arrow introduced himself as Hamilton, the entire show paused to allow the audience to settle and the cheers to die down. But that doesn’t mean you have to know every word to the Marquis de Lafayette’s insanely fast ‘Guns and Ships’ rap to enjoy the show.

Watching a cast as perfect as this one performing a show as brilliant as Hamilton is the apotheosis of theatregoing. First-timers will probably miss some of the words and context, as many of the songs are fast and furious, with complex internal rhyme schemes and clever nods to musical genres from everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to contemporary R’n’B.

That doesn’t mean the show is impenetrable, though, quite the opposite – masterful staging and brilliant lyrics make it easy to follow the story of the doomed Alexander from ambitious 19-year-old revolutionary to that fateful duel at age 49. That’s not a spoiler, by the way. The show was written for an American audience, every one of whom would know at least three facts about Alexander Hamilton before the curtain rises: 1. He’s on the ten-dollar bill; 2. He came up with the concept of federalism; and 3. He died in a duel with Aaron Burr. Indeed, Burr opens the show by introducing himself as “the damn fool that shot him”. Knowing Hamilton’s fate from the opening lines infuses every scene with Burr with poignant dramatic irony. 

Without the knowledge that Americans have walking into the room, does Hamilton resonate with a 2022 Australian audience? Yes and no. Americans have a mythologised notion of the country’s foundation that is completely alien to Australia. That puts Australian audiences at a slight disadvantage off the bat, but the performances are so solid, the music so catchy and the lyrics so clever that even if you know nothing about the show or its historical context, you’ll be absolutely blown away. The more familiar with it you are, though, the more you’ll get out of it. So you’re just going to have to go again.

Want more? Read our interviews with the actors who play Aaron Burr and Jefferson, and with the Schuyler sisters.

  • Things to do
  • Pop-up locations
  • Footscray

Keen on eating and drinking outside this winter, but less keen on the bone-chilling cold? Thanks to four venues across Melbourne, you can book in for your own private winter wonderland in the form of cosy winter igloo gardens. Enter your igloo, settle into the cosy chairs draped with blankets and furry pillows and prepare to warm yourself up from the inside with delicious food and beverage packages. 

The igloos are open from now until the end of winter, and we've rounded up their individual offerings below. Date and time availabilities vary across venues.

The Wharf Hotel

Cosy up beneath a sky of twinkling fairy lights on the banks of the Yarra in this cosy private igloo that can fit up to eight people. For $59 per person, you can graze on a sharing platter and enjoy your choice of two beverages including mulled wine or cider, Hot Toddies, Espresso Martinis and house wines, beers and ciders. For an extra $20 per person, you can also enjoy a chocolate fondue station and a boozy hot chocolate. Make your booking here.

The Station Hotel

Snuggle with your partner or up to five of your nearest and dearest friends at this private winter wonderland. For $75 per person, you can enjoy a drink on arrival and a three-course meal with options like Wagyu tartare topped with truffle and black garlic mayo, chargrilled rump of lamb, sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream and more. Make your booking here.

The Auburn Hotel

For $69 per person, enjoy a three-course meal under a sky of twinkling fairy lights. Your booking entitles you to 2.5 hours in the igloo while you enjoy a winter cocktail and a share-style set menu. Think winter favourites like pumpkin arancini, roasted heirloom carrots, pan-roasted Murray cod and sticky toffee pudding. Make your booking here.

Studley Park Boathouse

When you think high tea, you likely think of a posh affair in an old-world hotel. But thanks to the Studley Park Boathouse, now you and up to five guests can enjoy your treats in the great outdoors with enchanting views of the Yarra — while staying warm in your igloo, of course. For $52 per person, you'll enjoy a high tea comprised of sweet and savoury bites, plus unlimited tea or coffee. You can upgrade to the bottomless Spritz and Mimosa package for an additional $25 per person. Make your booking here.

Looking for more things to do? Check out our round-up of the best things happening in Melbourne this week.

  • Things to do
  • Pop-up locations
  • Melbourne

Between the first rickety flight of aviation pioneers the Wright brothers, and Neil Armstrong’s historic giant leap for mankind on the Moon, is a gap of just 66 years. And yet, despite the mind-boggling speed with which humanity went from earthbound to astronomical, the Apollo program, which took the first people to the lunar surface, was cancelled just over a year after its inaugural Moon landing. These extraordinary feats of engineering and courage had become too passé to hold the public’s attention.

Well, for anyone still under the illusion that space is boring, a new immersive exhibition is ready to prove that there’s nothing dull about space exploration. Presented by Fever, this dazzling light show will transport you on a planet-hopping odyssey through our solar system, including visiting Mars, Venus, Pluto and Jupiter, with your feet still firmly on the ground.

In orbit around these cosmic projections, visitors can find real space paraphernalia from notable missions including spacesuits supplied by NASA, as well as model spacecraft and interactive touchscreen displays for an even more detailed journey through the cosmos. While the exhibition has toured internationally, with more than a million people worldwide having seen the show to date, it's the first time the production will be shown in Melbourne. 

The Melbourne premiere of Neighbourhood Earth will have a limited season at the Emporium from June 17 to August 28. Tickets are $30 per person and are on sale now through the Fever website.

Want more out-of-this-world fun? Here are the best planetariums and conservatories to explore in Melbourne.

  • Art
  • Southbank

The NGV will celebrate the stories and perspectives of our queer communities in a landmark new exhibition set to open in 2022. Queer is the most comprehensive Australian survey of art relating to queer themes to date, with more than 300 works pulled from the NGV collection to be exhibited across five galleries at the NGV International. 

Works on show will reflect the many ways the word "queer" can be used, from a representation of gender and sexuality to a philosophy and political movement. Naturally, you can expect works who identify as queer, but also works from artists who were not able to do so safely in their own time. There will also be works that aren't from artists who aren't part of the queer community, but whose works relate to queer histories. 

Some of the exhibitions stand out works include 'The Metropolitan' by fashion and performance great Leigh Bowery; 'St Sebastian at the Tree' by renowned German renaissance painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer; 'The Kiss' by Peter Behrens; 'Where's Mickey?' by Destiny Deacon; and 'The Letter' by Agnes Goodsir. 

Historically, the voices and stories of those who are queer have been sanitised if not outright ignored. Queer will make a point to highlight this – while the exhibition will not present a full history of queer art, it will reflect on the gaps in the history it does present. 

Queer opens at the NGV International on March 10, 2022.

  • Art
  • Melbourne

The UK's Tate museum is known as one of the world's foremost art institutions – but this winter you won't have to leave Melbourne to see works from this renowned gallery. 

Light: Works from Tate’s Collection is bringing more than 70 works from the Tate's impressive national collection to ACMI as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series. As the exhibition title suggests, the works coming to this Australian exclusive showcase all relate to the theme of 'light' and span 200 years of art history and mediums such as painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, kinetic art, installation and (of course, it's ACMI) the moving image. 

As part of the exhibition, you can see works from painters famous for their depictions and mastery of light in natural environments– think J.M.W. Turner, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley – as well as those who work with light in a more abstract sense, such as Wassily Kandinsky and Bridget Riley.

These paintings are complemented by contemporary, large scale installations that capture and explore light in all its forms. Highlights include James Turrell's immersive glowing work 'Raemar, Blue'; Olafur Eliasson's reflective, interstellar 'Stardust Particle' installation; and Yayoi Kusama's 'The Passing Winter' – one of Kusama's famed infinity spaces, which you can peer into. 

Light has been curated by the Tate and will be supported by a series of talks, performances, film screenings, workshops and events that will further reflect (pun intended) on the themes within the exhibition. 

Light: Works from Tate’s Collection opens at ACMI June 16, 2022. Head to the website for more information. 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Southbank

The NGV's Friday Nights series is back for another round, and this time the gallery is pairing a string of gigs alongside the highly anticipated exhibition The Picasso Century.

Few things go hand-in-hand like music and art, and NGV Friday Nights’ set-up is the best way to take in the latest NGV exhibition after dark while enjoying the best in local music.

Performing in the NGV's Great Hall every Friday night from 10 June to early October, this season's line-up features performances from the likes of Ngaiire, Emma Donovan and the Putbacks, Polly and the Pockets, and heaps more. See the full line-up on the NGV's website.

To tie in with the exhibition, Bar Lourinhã will be running their Picasso-inspired pop-up, taking over NGV’s Garden Restaurant, from June 10-October 9. While the small Spanish wine bar is usually tucked away on Little Collins Street, it will make an appearance with a bespoke menu for the exhibition's run. Expect golden croquettes filled with jamón and manzanilla-braised beef cheeks from culinary stalwart and executive chef Matt McConnell to warm you up for a pre- or post-exhibition feed.

Every Friday evening visitors can enjoy the Yering Station Wine Bar in the Great Hall and choose from a menu of fine wines from the Yarra Valley or wine flight tasting experience. Meanwhile at the Pommery Champagne Bar in the Gallery Kitchen café guests can get a flute of Pommery Pops at the Pommery Cart. Or you can embrace the Melbourne winter at the mulled wine bar on the Garden Terrace: sip on a mulled wine or dessert wine, warm up under blankets and heaters, and enjoy views of the city lights and night sky.

The most influential painter of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso changed art forever. His works are among the most famous in existence, hanging on gallery walls and in private collections the world over, as well as being instantly recognisable to millions both in and outside of the fine arts. NGV Friday Nights allows you to make a full night of experiencing this blockbuster show. 

NGV Friday Nights runs June 10 to October 7. Tickets are available now on the NGV website

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  • Art
  • Installation
  • Southbank

Victoria, you've heard of pink lakes and pink cliffs, but this might be Melbourne's first pink pond. This December, the NGV unveils a pink pond in the Grollo Equiset Garden (the gallery's sculpture garden). The blushing body of water, titled 'Pond[er]' is the work of the winner of the NGV's 2021 Architecture Commission, and is designed and produced by architecture firm Taylor Knights and artist James Carey. 

Unsurprisingly, the pond is inspired by Australia's pink salt lakes but also draws from the original architectural designs for the NGV International. In addition to the large, pink pool of water, 'Pond[er]' also features beds of native Victorian wildflowers that will bloom at varying stages throughout the installation's tenure. It's sustainable too, with the installation's materials to be sourced or made locally and to then be distributed to Landcare, Indigenous and community groups for further use following deinstallation. 

NGV director, Tony Ellwood, said "Through an elegant interplay of architectural and landscape elements, this work draws our attention to the challenges facing Australia’s many catchments and river systems, whilst also ensuring that the design itself has minimal environmental impact by considering the future lifecycle of the materials used."

If you're anything like us, you're probably thinking "can I jump in the pond?". The answer to that is yes, yes you can. Once installed, visitors to 'Pond[er]' will be able to walk along a series of walkways and accessible platforms to explore the work and even dip their feet in the pink pool itself. 

The NGV's pink pond opens December 6 and be available to experience until October 28 2022.

  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Southbank

The most influential painter of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso changed art forever. His works are among the most famous in existence, hanging on gallery walls and in private collections the world over, as well as being instantly recognisable to millions both in and outside of the fine arts.

The NGV is bringing more than 80 of Picasso's works to Melbourne, organised into 12 thematic sections – and yes, Cubism is more than ably represented – along with an exciting Friday night music program.

An artist doesn't exist in a vacuum, and Picasso learned from and influenced countless numbers of his contemporaries. The works of more than 60 of them are also included in the exhibition, carefully and thoughtfully curated by scholar of 20th-century painting Didier Ottinger, deputy director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Artists included in the exhibition include underrated names such as Natalia Goncharova, Julio González, Wifredo Lam, Suzanne Valadon and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, as well as more familiar names like Braque, Dalì and Giacometti.  

"This exhibition offers visitors an extraordinary insight into the development of modern art and the preeminent figure at its centre, Pablo Picasso," says NGV director Tony Ellwood. "Through more than 170 works of art – including many that have never been seen in Australia – audiences will come to appreciate the many ways in which Picasso influenced – and was influenced by – the artistic community that surrounded him."

To celebrate, NGV Friday Nights will return from June 10 with after-hours access to the exhibition and a line-up of live performances, bespoke bars, and Spanish-inspired dining. The concert series kicks off with Ngaiire (June 10) and Emma Donovan and the Putbacks (June 17) with doors opening at 6pm. Matt McConnell and Jo Gamvros’s Bar Lourinhã will take over the NGV’s Garden Restaurant for a celebration of Spanish culture and dining on Friday evenings from 6pm and daily for lunch service throughout the exhibition’s run.  

Find out more and book tickets to The Picasso Century and NGV Friday Nights.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Southbank

Dolly Parton's stage version of hit 1980 comedy 9 to 5 is coming to Arts Centre Melbourne this July, almost two years to the day that the production was originally due to premiere.

The musical features an entire score of Dolly songs, including the landmark title track '9 to 5', and follows the plot of the film pretty closely: workmates Doralee (played by Parton in the film), Violet (originally Lily Tomlin) and Judy (Jane Fonda) have been pushed to the edge by a narcissistic boss. So they hatch an elaborate plan to extract their revenge, and hilarity ensues. The book is by Patricia Resnick, who penned the film.

The local version is led by a fabulous cast of musical theatre veterans and rising stars: Marina Prior plays Violet with Erin Clare as Doralee and the inimitable Casey Donovan as Judy. Caroline O'Connor plays Roz, an administrative assistant desperately in love with her boss.

The show opened on Broadway in 2009 and wasn't an enormous hit. But when it was reimagined for London's West End in 2019, it became an immediate smash, scoring rave reviews and extending its run multiple times. 

Originally the production was slated to open July 2020 at Her Majesty's Theatre, but will now open July 10, 2022 at Arts Centre Melbourne's State Theatre. Tickets go on sale February 11.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne

Wonderland is coming to Melbourne, with State of Grace hosting a Mad Hatter’s G&Tea Party on Saturdays from May 21 through to August 27.

Party like the Mad Hatter and enjoy two hours of bottomless aromatic gin and tonics and sparkling wine or beer, matched with a selection of sweet and savoury bites including Apollo Bay lobster mornay doughnuts, French onion soup toasties and Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin tarts with meringue.

You’ll also get the chance to sit on the Mad Hatter’s chair, walk through the floral arches and spend time amongst the hanging teacups. Word on the street is that the Queen of Hearts herself will be greeting guests at the door and Mr Marmalade the magician will be entertaining guests with tricks.

Two sittings are available, 12-2pm and 3-5pm, and tickets are priced at $69 per person. Bookings can be made via the State of Grace website.

If your two favourite words happen to be 'bottomless' and 'brunch', check out our guide to the best boozy brunch spots Melbourne has to offer.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Melbourne

The Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street opened its doors to guests in March 2021, having taken over the old Italian Romanesque bones of Melbourne's heritage-listed Equity Chambers. The boutique hotel is a gorgeous blend of old and new, with lofty ceilings, old barrister's offices laden with gold detailing and dark natural wood panelling that's reminiscent of the State Library. Stepping inside is like going back in time, and in celebration of the hotel's one-year anniversary, you're invited to experience the lavish Celebrations Stay Package. 

When you check into your stylish guest room, you'll find a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine by Mornington Peninsula's Quealy Winemakers, a box of chocolates by local bean-to-bar chocolatier Atypic Chocolate, coffee by Cacao Chocolate and bathroom amenities by Hunter Lab. Settle in, crack open that bottle and munch on those chocolates before sinking into your plush bed.

If that didn't sound lavish enough, you'll also receive a $50 celebration credit that you can use to upgrade your stay. There are several ways that you can use it, including amenity upgrades like a pampering kit by Hunter Lab, tickets to the NGV's current exhibition and minibar cocktails made by the hotel bar, the Douglas Club. If you'd like to feel like an A-list celebrity, add on the limousine transfer to the hotel or request celebratory balloons to be waiting for you in the room upon your arrival. After a restful sleep, head downstairs in the morning to Luci for breakfast for two. 

The package is available until October 31, and you can book online through the website

Trying to stick to a budget? Check out our round-up of Melbourne's best cheap hotels. 

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Brunswick East

Inspired by the wildly successful London Houseplant Festival in 2021, Melburnians are finally getting their own festival dedicated to the humble houseplant. If you're mad for monsteras, live in a zanzibar zoo or are simply a green-leaf admirer, head to the Wool Mill on August 21 for a festival complete with talks, workshops and stalls. 

New and seasoned plant parents can get tips from leading experts and entrepreneurs, including the authors of Leaf Supply and Plantopedia, the co-founder of online shop Plant Runner and more. Get advice on the issues you're having with your brood, and learn about everything from positioning plants like a pro to finding the best soil to use. If you're a hands-on learner, you can take part in workshops around making kokedama, terrariums and staghorn fern mounting.

There will also be heaps of stalls hawking everything from botanical art and books to planters and handmade potting mix. And, of course, there will be stalls selling plants to help you expand your leafy family. 

Tickets start at $9 and are on sale from June 22 through the Planthood website

Need your plants delivered? Here are the best plant nurseries in Melbourne that offer delivery or click and collect.

  • Art
  • Melbourne

You don't have to travel to Canberra to check out some of the brilliant portraits held by the National Portrait Gallery, as the NGV Ian Potter Centre has collaborated with the famed museum to bring some of the finest examples of the artform to Melbourne.

Who Are You: Australian Portraiture brings together some of the finest portrait works of both museums for the first time, giving Melburnians access to some of Australia's most famous and most interesting examples of the medium. More than 200 works are featured, from Australian artists like Patricia Piccinini, Atong Atem, Howard Arkley, Vincent Namatjira and Tracey Moffatt, and subjects include Cate Blanchett, Albert Namatjira, Queen Elizabeth II, Eddie Mabo and David Gulpilil.  

It's not all photorealistic work, either, with abstract work from John Nixon and Boris Cipusev’s typographic portrait of Jeff from the band the Wiggles. There's also Polixeni Papapetrou’s 'Magma Man', which merges the sitter and the landscape.   

The exhibition is on until August 21, and entry is free.

  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • Melbourne

The world's most ambitious augmented reality art exhibition is on now at Melbourne's two Royal Botanic Gardens.

Seeing the Invisible is an alfresco art exhibition showcasing works by some of the world's top contemporary artists, including Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol (who you might remember did the massive quantum computer work, 'Quantum Memories', for the 2020 NGV Triennial), El Anatsui, Isaac Julien, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Pamela Rosenkranz and Timur Si-Qin.

From September 2021 until September 2022, visitors to the Botanic Gardens can explore Seeing the Invisible for free, viewing the artworks via an app available on smartphones and tablets. When you visit Seeing the Invisible you'll also be taking part in an exhibition that's happening simultaneously around the world in 12 different locations.

Melbourne's Botanic Gardens are the only Australian location taking part, with other venues including the Eden Project in Cornwall, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario, and the San Diego Botanic Garden. 

Seeing the Invisible is on at both the Melbourne and Cranbourne botanic gardens from now until September 30, 2022. 

  • Shopping
  • Markets
  • Melbourne

Melbourne’s new cutting-edge craft fair, Crft*wrk, is popping up at Queen Victoria Market from June to October this year, after a successful launch in May 2022.

Curated by the team behind Fitzroy’s popular and long-running The Rose Street Artists’ Market, the pop up delivers an inspiring range of bespoke and unique wares, works and pieces made by locals. Pick up a few new pieces for your home including handmade, small-batch ceramics from Made By Ness, or some artisan handcrafted jewellery from Mediya Jewellery.

Head to Queen Victoria Market's open air buildings, at the rear of K and L sheds, on the last Saturday of each month to check out Crft*wrk. For more information, check out their website.

  • Art
  • South Wharf

Art can seem exxy. It's not that it's trying to rort you, it's just that it's not always apparent how much time, expertise and materials go into making a work. Having said that, there are ways to purchase art if your discretionary funds are a little lacking. 

The Affordable Art Fair pitches itself as having "revolutionised and democratised the art market" by curating art fairs around the world where works go for between roughly $100 to $10,000. 

After it's last Melbourne outing in 2019, the Affordable Art Fair hasn't been able to run an in-person event in our fair city due to lockdowns (though we were treated to an online art fair in 2020). It's back this year, however, with the Affordable Art Fair on at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from September 1 to 4. This is amended from the fair's original March dates, with ticket holders from these dates able to roll their tickets over to the spring fair, should they wish.

The spring fair will feature works from dozens of Australian galleries, showcasing works that span the full gamut of visual art – oil paintings right through to sculptures. If you're overwhelmed by the scope, you can join the daily guided tour which points out some of the top picks for every budget as selected by the fair's director. There will also be interactive workshops, talks and live demonstrations.

The Affordable Art Fair is on at MCEC from September 1 to 4, with tickets available now through the website. 

  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Ballarat

Max Meldrum was a controversial personality in the world of art, and his Tonalist movement made an undeniable impact on Australian Modernism. At the Art Gallery of Ballarat this winter, you can see a selection of noteworthy artworks, some created as far back as the 1920s, produced by two-time Archibald Prize winner Max Meldrum and his ‘Meldrumites’ – the Australian artists from the Tonalist movement.

After developing his distinctive theory of painting, Meldrum opened a school in 1916 where
he taught his philosophy of Tonalism: essentially, where tonal variations are the focus, over
drawing skill and colour. Adapting to this shadow and highlight method of painting,
Meldrum cultivated a group of students who admired his outlook on painting, eventually
forming the Tonalist Movement.

Characterised by its signature muted tones, lack of colour, and ‘misty’ appearance, Tonalism made its way through the art scene during the early to mid-20th century, remaining one of Australia’s most memorable movements to this day.

This group, and subsequently this exhibit, includes famous names including Clarice Beckett
and Colin Colahan who were both inspired by the works of Meldrum and early Tonalism,
along with other ‘Meldrumites’ including Alma Figuerola, Jock Frater, Harry Harrison and
Percy Leason.

“We hold some fabulous examples of the work of Tonalist artists, including important works
by Clarice Beckett and Max Meldrum, but we also hold works by many of Meldrum’s
students and followers," said Louise Tegart, the director of the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

“We have also used the exhibition as an opportunity to build on this area of our collection,
by acquiring works, including a gorgeous landscape by Meldrum, a spectacular still life by
Harry Harrison and an early Clarice Beckett still life which is quite different in tone from the
two sublime grey seascapes already in our collection.”

The exhibition will feature as part of the annual Ballarat Winter Festival, running from June 25 to July 17. In addition to the exhibit, the gallery is hosting a series of public programs including an In Conversation with Peter Perry OAM, one of Australia’s leading experts on the Tonalism movement, on June 8, and a talk with artist David Moore on the influence of Meldrum, on June 18.

Heading out of the city for the weekend? Here are some things you can only do in Ballarat.

  • Museums
  • Melbourne

Whether you are on babysitting duty for the school holidays or are a keen ocean explorer, the new Dive into the Deep exhibit at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, offers a unique and informative day out for adults and children alike. For the first time at the Melbourne Aquarium, the Dive into the Deep exhibit sees a 14 metre long, immersive digital projection, taking guests on a explorative examination through the depths of the ocean, and through the stages of time.

Designed to explain the story of the ocean zones and bring to life the marine creatures that call it home, engaging wall graphics and digital imagery take visitors through the ocean’s sunlight zone (0-200 meters), twilight zone (200-1000 meters), and midnight zone (1000-4000 meters). Unless you are a marine biologist, we guarantee adults will have some learning to do too. Answer this question to see if you still have a thing or two to learn about the oceans: how much of the ocean lies within the midnight zone, where the water pressure is extreme and temperature is near freezing? a) 30 per cent; b) 70 per cent; or c) 90 per cent.

The Dive into the Deep exhibit also houses a collection of mystical aquatic creatures like the tasselled anglerfish, lungfish, clownfish and many more. Dive into the Deep is part of the permanent exhibits, which are included in the admission price, so be sure to check out some of the aquariums stand out features while you’re at it, such as the Penguin Playground and the Bay of Rays.

And for anyone playing at home: the answer was c) 90 per cent. Things seem to get weird in the midnight zone and to be honest we are glad the closest we can get to exploring it is through the digital projection. If you didn’t know the answer, go check out Dive into the Deep to learn all a whole lot more about the ocean.

  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Melbourne

Aussie bowling alley and all-around funhouse Strike has released its newest collab – a project to turn humble bowling balls and shoes into a thing of art. From Tuesday, February 21, players can get their hands on specially designed attire by Australian artist Steen Jones. Because, as the saying goes: 'Look good, play better'.

Known for reinventing classic forms of entertainment, Strike Bowling wanted to elevate the usual alley experience and inject some style into the classic red, black and white colour palette. "It’s turned out to be such a cool (and bad-ass) collection," says artist Steen Jones. "Truth be told, I don't think I've ever had so much interest, hype or excitement for a collaboration, which is another reason why this project has been so great to be a part of"

Steen's artistic style is recognisable from previous projects with Vans, Lego, Sailor Jerry, Rolling Stone and Converse, just to name a few. For $25, players can opt to upgrade to the High Rollers pack, which includes a custom design bowling ball, bowling shoes and High Rollers socks to keep. You also score a free stein of Furphy, express check-in and a High Rollers sticker pack.

The High Rollers upgrade is available from February 21, ongoing – for players aged 18+ only. For more information or to book a lane, click here

High Rollers is available all week at Stike QV, Melbourne Central and Eastland.

  • Theatre
  • Comedy

Following its Australian premiere at Sydney's Darlinghurst Theatre Company in autumn 2021, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner is finally winging its way to Melbourne in winter 2022. And with a rave reviews (including a phenomenal, five-star rating by Time Out Sydney) you bet we're excited.

British playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones's exciting work draws on the social media vortex, deploying GIFs, memes and emojis to consider questions of cultural appropriation, racism, homophobia and online trolling. It all spirals out of an online argument about the success of 23-year-old “self-made billionaire” and reality TV star Kylie Jenner, that sets best friends Cleo and Kara against one another. 

A collaboration with Green Door Theatre Company, the show stars the inimitable Moreblessing Maturure and Iolanthe, as co-directed by proud Bardi and Jabirr Jabirr woman Shari Sebbens, and actress and musician Zindzi Okenyo.

“Jasmine Lee-Jones has written one of the greatest debut plays I will ever have the privilege of reading, turning even the simple act of page formatting into a thrill,” Sebbens says. “The voices of Cleo and Kara bust through the atmosphere of a global shift every one of us should be feeling right now, bringing big pain and big heart. They crack open the URL, the IRL and force us to look at the space we hold each other in.”

Maturure, who is also a co-producer and community engagement specialist on this project, adds: “My cheeks hurt the whole train ride when I first read this play. So much about it is exciting and familiar, the closest articulation of my GIF-heavy world on paper. On top of the laughs, it makes space for the messy, complicated conversations we find ourselves navigating daily and doesn’t shy away from throwing down when it needs to.”

Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner is on at Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre from July 27 to August 21. 

  • Museums
  • History
  • Melbourne

The glory and pain of our formative years never leave us. The awkwardness, the heartache, the moments of soaring joy and the losses that crushed us often feel as real as the day they happened. 

The Immigration Museum is now plumbing these universal experiences in an immersive exhibition that’ll have you feeling the entire spectrum of human emotion. They’ve presented 71 Australian coming-of-age stories that range from the monumental to the mundane, by diverse storytellers including author Alice Pung, model Andreja Pejic, disability activist Jax Jacki Brown, AFL footballer Jason Johannisen, drag queen Karen from Finance and Senator Lidia Thorpe.

Through light, sound, visual art and interactive installations, they tell of first kisses, victories and humiliations in tales that traverse time, gender, culture and orientation to celebrate our shared humanity. It’s anticipated that visitors will find themselves relating to these stories in unexpected and delightful ways, leading to the question of whether the process of becoming an adult ever really ends.

Admission is free with museum entry (adults $15, seniors $10 and free for everyone else).

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  • Things to do
  • Pop-up locations
  • Brunswick

If you thought building things out of cardboard was a relic of your childhood, think again; Australian independent craft brewery Bridge Road Brewers has created the grown-up hideaway fort of your dreams. Aptly named A Bar Made of Cardboard, it's a pop-up bar where everything aside from the beer taps, fridges and dishwasher is made with recycled cardboard. 

It might sound a bit wacky to craft a bar out of cardboard, but this venue is actually a prelude to a second (and permanent) brewery and bar that's due to pop up on the same site at 129 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East this December. The cardboard bar will be open for around six months, and when the time is up, it'll be dismantled and the materials will be reused, recycled and composted. 

While the cardboard fit-out might seem lean, the menu isn't. Swing by from Wednesday to Sunday to enjoy a line-up of the brewery's top core and seasonal beers rotating across six bar taps, a wine list with small wine producers from Victoria's High Country and small-batch spirits and aperitifs. If you get hungry, order from a small snack menu featuring Chappy's Chips and Mount Zero Olives, or saunter over to the nearby food trucks available on Friday and Saturday nights. 

Looking for more things to do? Check out our round-up of the best things happening in Melbourne this week.

  • Art
  • Melbourne

New Australian Printmaking takes four of Australia's top contemporary artists – Patricia Piccinini, Megan Cope, Shaun Gladwell and Tim Maguire – and thrusts each creative into the world of printmaking. 

The exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre (NGV Australia) features 68 prints created in the last four years as part of the Australian Print Workshop Artist Fellowship program. Piccinini, Cope, Gladwell and Maguire are already renowned for their work in other mediums, but the fellowship aimed to expand their practice into printmaking.

That is, the works extend on the themes the artists are known for, but as prints. For instance, New Australian Printmaking features two colour print series from Piccinini that showcase the artist's penchant for exploring nature, humanity and the uncanny. Gladwell's prints on the other hand continue his examination of street culture, as well as also featuring the artist's well-known skull imagery. Maguire's prints are an extension of his recent body of work, 'Dice Abstracts', while Cope has created two massive lithograph prints that showcase colonial-era geographic maps overlaid with Indigenous place names.

New Australian Printmaking opens May 13 and is free.

  • Things to do
  • Melbourne

One of the best ways to learn about Melbourne is on foot, with an experienced guide pointing out nooks and crannies you might otherwise miss and telling entertaining stories about Melbourne's colourful past. But walking and learning are thirsty work, no? 

Enter Drinking History Tours, which will take you on a tour down laneways, up alleys and through hidden parts of Melbourne or Fitzroy to teach you about the city's hidden gems and secret histories. And most importantly, the tours include stops at three fantastic Melbourne bars along the way. 

The Melbourne tour takes in Federation Square, the Forum, the MCG, AC/DC Lane, the Old Treasury Building, Chinatown and more. The tour stops at three bars en route, and there are snacks at the second bar and a full dinner at the third. You'll learn fascinating stories about Melbourne's seedy past, including tales of murder, brothels and a centuries-old unsolved mystery.

The Fitzroy tour starts at St Patrick's Cathedral and includes the Royal Exhibition Building, the Spanish Club, Brunswick Street, Johnston Street and laneways in between. You'll learn about Fitzroy's seedier side, including the epic battle between Squizzy Taylor and his archrival, as well as fun facts about the suburb's art and music scene. It also stops at three bars along the way: an old Melbourne stalwart, a reinvented hipster hangout and one of Melbourne's best cocktail bars. There's also a Whisky Bars and Gin Joints tour where guests explore three whisky or gin bars and discover the spirits' spirited history in Melbourne.

Founder Ben Oliver has worked as a guide for years, including five years running Melbourne walking tours and a stint running bar crawls in Greece. What we're saying is: you're in good hands, as he knows the importance of both the drinking and the history. There are drinks specials at the bars en route, but while food is included, drinks are not. 

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