Festivals in Melbourne

Thanks to the thriving arts, food, music, and sport scenes in Melbourne, there are plenty of festivals throughout the year all over the city. In October, we already covered the Melbourne Marathon, and this post summarizes a few more we don’t want you to miss.

Summer Night Market

  • When: January to March,
  • Where: South Melbourne & Queen Victoria Markets.

During the summer months both the South Melbourne and Queen Victoria Markets host a Summer Night Market. During this event, held once per week, the public can choose from dozens of food trucks and stalls to get a taste of their favorite cuisine. Colombian, Greek, Spanish, Thai, and of course Australian cuisine, the night market has it all.

The South Melbourne Night Market mainly has food trucks, including a crème brûlée cart preparing this delicious desert while you wait. The Queen Victoria Night Market is a little bit bigger, and therefore has more variety, like delicious Taiwanese pancakes, or fondue to go. With very reasonable prices, we recommend having dinner at one of these (or both) markets.

Australian Open

  • When: January,
  • Where: Melbourne Park.

The Australian Open is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments in tennis, together with the French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon. In January, Melbourne Park, with the Hisense, Margaret Lover, and Rod Lover arenas, turns into the capital of tennis.

Tickets are pricy, although during the early stages of the tournament you are able to see some top-tear players starting at 25$. We bought tickets for the Men’s Singles game between Nishikori and Tsonga, two top-ten players. After a great game, we stuck around to see a Men’s Doubles game before heading back home. Even if tennis is not really your thing, it is great to stroll around Melbourne Park during the Australian Open.

Chinese New Year

  • When: February,
  • Where: Southbank Promenade.

In summer, the Southbank Promenade often turns into one long street lined with food vendors. The Chinese New Year is no exception, as plenty of Chinese and other Asian vendors find their way to Southbank. You can try delicious Japanese gyoza, Chinese dumplings, or just sip from a fresh coconut.

White Night

  • When: February,
  • Where: Botanical Gardens, Carlton Gardens, and Melbourne CBD.

One of the biggest festivals of the year is White Night. During this festival, held all over Melbourne, streets turn into art and light projections, with live music and food trucks all over the place. We were particularly impressed with the light projections onto the Royal Exhibition Building and Arts Centre.

The festival, held between 7 at night and 7 in the morning, draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over Australia. This year, this meant some streets were overcrowded, but outside the CBD everyone had plenty of space to enjoy arts, food, and music.

Lonsdale Street Festival

  • When: February,
  • Where: Lonsdale Street (Melbourne CBD).

The Melbourne CBD is home to a couple of smaller festivals, often organized by local minorities. The Lonsdale Street Festival is such a festival, organized by the Greek minority in Melbourne. Lonsdale Street turns into a street full of street vendors selling yogurt, souvlakis, and baklava. On stage, people engage in the traditional Greek dance. We highly recommend visiting one of the smaller festivals, as they still have a lot to offer!

AFL Grand Final

  • When: October,
  • Where: Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australian Football (AFL) is a big thing in Australia. When the AFL competition reaches the final match, a national holiday is held to ensure everyone is able to watch the game. For us, we attended an AFL game in the Etihad Stadium. Without knowing all the rules, we enjoyed our time, but we wouldn’t necessarily take a day off for it.

The festivals listed above are just a couple of examples. Melbourne hosts dozen of other festivals, like the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park, which we missed because we were visiting Uluru, or the dog races during Cup Carnival. In Melbourne, you can definitely attend a different festival every week of the year!

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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