Melbourne is Australia’s style setter; an arty city, both scenic and cosmopolitan, with diverse, dynamic inhabitants that proudly claim their title as Australia’s sporting and cultural capital.
It’s progressive, multicultural, gritty-chic, food-obsessed, and has a non stop events calendar which is always packed with arts festivals, live music, exhibitions, blockbuster theater shows, sport and activities for kids.
From the Australian Open in January to the Comedy Festival in March and April, why not travel for one of the following major annual events?
Events You Shouldn’t Miss in Melbourne
The Australian Open
The Last Fortnight in January
Melbourne comes alive during the Australian Open. This is a major tennis tournament which is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events every year. It features men’s and women’s singles; men’s, women’s and mixed doubles and junior’s championships; as well as wheelchair, legends and exhibition events.
The Australian Open has been played in Melbourne for the past 110 years, and spectators have seen thousands of historic matches between some of the world’s tennis greats. Attendance here often rivals and occasionally exceeds the US Open. Melbourne holds the record for the highest attendance at a Grand Slam event.
Photo credit: Richard Fisher
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
29 March 2017 – 23 April 2017
From the humble beginnings of 56 shows in year one to over 500 shows in 2016, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival has become Australia’s national comedy festival and one of the biggest in the world.
This is the largest cultural event in Australia and runs over four weeks. Melbourne Town Hall serves as the festival hub, though performances held in various venues across the city.
It features a mass of local and international comedy stars, and attracts people from all over the world. Shows are primarily stand-up and cabaret acts, however also include sketch shows, plays, improvisational theatre, debates, musical shows and art exhibitions.
The Australian Football League (AFL)
23 Mar 2017 – 30 Sep 2017
Sport is a crucial part of the social fabric in Melbourne, and the Australian Football League (AFL) takes on something of a religious aspect here.
AFL season runs roughly from March – September each year, and you can catch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). However the biggest event of the year is the Grand Final on the last Saturday in September, and the city takes on a completely different atmosphere.
Hundreds of thousands of football fanatics crowd the streets on a pilgrimage through the city to the game. The streets are flooded with colors, scarfs and flags, and the age old buildings literally shake, the energy surrounding the stadium flooding out to the city at large.
Melbourne International Film Festival
3 August 2017 – 20 August 2017
One of the oldest film festivals in the world, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is a film-lover’s paradise. This is the most significant screen events in Australia, and people attend to see international premieres, red carpet glamour and the best in global cinema.
This is an iconic Melbourne event which takes place annually over three weeks in the heart of the city. The event takes pride in championing local film: it is Australia’s largest showcase of new Australian cinema, and the country’s most vocal advocate for emerging and established local film-making talent.
The Melbourne Cup
The First Tuesday of November
Melbourne Cup Day is Australia’s most famous Tuesday. At 3.00 pm AEST, on the first Tuesday in November, Australians everywhere stop for one of the world’s most famous horse races—the Melbourne Cup.
The whole nation stops whatever it’s doing to listen to the race call, or watch the race on TV. Even those who don’t usually bet try their luck with a small wager or entry into a ‘sweep’—a lottery in which each ticket-holder is matched with a randomly drawn horse.
Since 1877, Cup Day has been a public holiday for Melbourne, and crowds of up to 150,000 have flocked to the track and hill beyond. The party atmosphere often means that champagne and canapes, huge hats and racetrack fashions overshadow the business of horse racing.
Formula 1 Australian Gran Prix
The Australian Grand Prix is a motor race held annually in Melbourne, which will be hosted by Formula One until 2023. This is the oldest surviving motor racing competition held in Australia having been held 79 times since it was first run at Phillip Island in 1928.
Since 1985, the race has been a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship and is currently held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit at Albert Park. The Australian Grand Prix is the first round of the Championship. The race in 2017 was won by Sebastian Vettel driving for Ferrari.
Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight
24 December Annually
Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight is a Melbourne Christmas tradition which has been running for 79 years. It’s Australia’s largest annual Christmas carol event, with performances by national and international celebrities accompanied by an orchestra.
It is broadcast live throughout the nation each year, though nothing beats the atmosphere of actually being there. Held in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne’s King’s Domain Gardens, all funds raised go directly to provide services for children who are blind or have low vision and their families. In 2016 they raised over $1.2 million! Book tickets or donate here.
Photos courtesy of Vision Australia.
Cricket: Boxing Day Test
December 26 Annually
The Boxing Day Test match is a cricket test match held at the MCG between the Australian cricket team and an opposing national team which is touring Australia for the summer.
So if you’re in Melbourne over Christmas, get out the zinc and the novelty hat and join up to 100,000 cricket fans at the MCG for a sporting event that’s become an Australian institution.
Where to Stay
The Space Hotel – 380 Russell Street
The best base for discovering Melbourne is the Space Hotel – a combination of up-market backpacker accommodation and a budget boutique hotel, with modern designer rooms, social spaces for games, a private cinema, fully equipped fitness center, and a rooftop terrace with tables, a hot tub and an epic skyline view.
Winning Tripadvisors Certificate of Excellence for 5 years in a row, this is a clean, modern, and sleek hotel, which puts other budget accommodation to shame. The better private rooms have en-suites, balconies and flat-screen TVs, while dorms have thoughtful touches like large lockers equipped with sensor lights and lockable adapters. There is also an internet kiosk, guest laundry, and shared kitchen with barbecue facilities.
There are a wide range of room options to suit every budget, and if you’re basing yourself for a couple of festivals, their long term accommodation will make it easy to get settled in. The hotel is a 5-minute walk from Melbourne Central Station and 10 minutes’ walk to Queen Victoria Market.
For more information or to make a booking visit https://spacehotel.com.au/
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