The ultimate guide to Melbourne’s best winter activities

Words by Alyce Greer

Image via ACMI/Wonderland Late Nights

Cosy up and beat the chill.

Summer is cool, but we think the colder months have a special appeal. If you ask us, winter is where it’s at. Or more specifically, winter in Melbourne is where it’s at.

It’s the perfect time to sip on lovely wine, nibble on cheese and dance to French electro. You can also cosy up with award-winning Australian and international films and documentaries. Or trip out at ACMI, at the Wonderland exhibition.

Basically, you can do anything except hibernate and complain that it’s too cold to get off the couch. Here are our favourite things to do this winter.

Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)

MIFF is back for its 67th year to lure us cultured Melburnites out of our homes during the peak of winter. Kicking off with the Australian premiere of Wildlife starring Ed Oxenbould, Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, you’ll be able to pick and choose from more than 500 screenings across three weeks in venues all over the city. On our list? Desiree Akhavan’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning feature starring Chloë Grace Moretz, The Miseducation of Cameron Post; Ian Bonhôte’s documentary into the personal archives and runway spectacles of the king, Alexander McQueen; and The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man because, Bill Murray.

Catch the Melbourne International Film Festival from August 2-19, 2018.

Finders Keepers Market

Prefer to spend your winter months with a hot coffee and pastry in hand, trawling through some of Melbourne’s best fashion, accessories and homewares? The iconic Finders Keepers market will be returning to the Royal Exhibition Building in July, bringing with it new talent, dedicated beverage stalls, food trucks, live music and two bars, for a weekend that combines all of Melbourne’s favourite things.

The Finders Keepers Market will be running from July 13-15, 2018.


If you love Melbourne, chances are you have a soft spot for New York too. If it wasn’t so far away and so expensive to get to, we’d all probably go there every weekend, amirite?! Well, now you don’t need to, with this new cross-cultural festival that celebrates all things Melbourne and New York, across theatre, dance, live music, talks, performance and dining. Best of all, Regina Spektor will be dropping into the Arts Centre for a live concert.  Be still our beating heart.

Keep an eye out for the MELxNYC takeover at venues throughout Melbourne from June – October 2018.

Bastille Day French Festival 

Prefer the effortlessly cool vibe of Paris over the hustle and bustle of New York? That’s cool too. Bastille Day French Festival is returning for its fourth outing, bringing together the French-Australian community in a big ol’ French National Day party at Meat Market in North Melbourne. Take part in masterclasses on food, wine and culture, watch some French cinema, sample as many delicacies as your body will allow, discover your new favourite French DJs, shop fashion-filled market stalls and wander through the Sur le Mur (On the Wall) art exhibition celebrating the history of street art – with a champagne in hand, of course.

Pop along to Bastille Day French Festival from 14-15 July 2018.

Wonderland at ACMI

If there’s one thing Melburnians love to do, it’s get lost in a mind-bending exhibition at one of our many arty institutions. The talk of the town at the moment is ACMI’s Wonderland – a fall-down-the-rabbit-hole exploration of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. You can take your time in the immersive experience, taking in all the original, behind-the-scenes material, stop in for a Wonderland High Tea, then stay for Wonderland Late Nights – an after-dark party of DJ’s, bands and live art performances. 

Wonderland is showing at ACMI until October 2018.

NGV Friday nights

While Fridays in summer is all about the after-work rooftop drink, Fridays in winter are slightly more cosy and cultured, with NGV’s new program series. Escape the freezing cold temperatures and unnecessary sideways rain with a rotating schedule of modern jazz, art, drinks and dining, inspired by the city that never sleeps. The crown jewel? MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art, which gives you exclusive, late-night access to over 200 works you don’t normally see outside of New York, including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo. The whole thing is much more civilised than our warm-weather Friday night plans – and you’ll probably get less of a hangover too.

NGV Friday Nights continues every week during MoMA at NGV, from 15 June – 15 October 2018.

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