For those of us opting to stay in Melbourne this summer - as opposed to traversing the globe - there's just as much to occupy yourself with as Sydney. Similarly, a lot of which don't actually involve a beach.
Here are ten things to do in Melbourne this summer other than getting sandy.
Melbourne Cocktail Festival
Get ready for the city's inaugural cocktail festival. Bringing cocktail experts and enthusiasts alike from around the world, it's all set to take place starting February 26th to March 1st in 2020. Agostino Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani of The Connaught Bar in London will be headlining this event. For the uninitiated, The Connaught Bar is an iconic venue known far and wide for "revolutionising the hotel bar scene" - as well as being named ‘Best Bar in Europe' in 2019 at the World's 50 Best Bars Awards. There's plenty of activities you'll be able to enjoy here and plenty more drinks to sample.
URBNSURF Wave Pool Park
Australia's first urban surf park is yet another viable option for this summer. Located just twenty minutes from the CBD and powered by Wavegarden technology, it offers a surfing experience like no other. Dynamic enough to be exciting, but controlled enough to dispel any would-be anxieties. There are even lessons available for those of you less experienced on a surfboard.
Arbory Afloat Bar & Eatery
It's the summer checklist trifecta.
- Good food: ✔
- Plenty of drinks: ✔
- Being out by the water on a sun-soaked day: ✔
Taking inspiration from Miami in the 70s, nestled between Flinders Station and the Yarra River, the floating pontoon is one of the city's finest beer gardens. Fair warning though, those of you without sufficient impulse control best exercise some caution. One could easily spend the entire season here without even realising it...
As this list will confirm, summer and the water are synonymous. Surfing, dining and drinking with a view - these are all fine suggestions. But why not kick it up a notch by renting your very own Scandanavian-inspired luxury vessel? With GoBoat, you can be a captain of the seas with the freedom to picnic in aquatic isolation. Bonus: not only do the boats run silent, they're also environmentally sustainable.
Keith Haring & Jean-Michel Basquiat
In a major cultural coup for Melbourne, the NGV is putting on one of the most anticipated pop-art exhibitions in recent memory. Featuring seminal works from two icons of the movement in Haring and Basquiat, the exhibition runs from December 1 until April 13, 2020 and is not one to miss. Adult tickets are just $30.
The Australian Open
This one almost doesn't require any explanation. It's a no-brainer, really. When it comes to the hierarchy of domestic sporting events, the Australian Open sits right at the top (don't @ me). And while the majority of us are happy enough to watch it from the comfort of our lounge rooms, there's plenty of better experiences on hand over at Rod Laver Arena - beyond just being a spectator in the crowd. In fact, you can find out about the most exceptionally luxe packages here.
The Queen Victoria Night Market
With over 130 stalls to explore, Melbourne's Queen Victoria Night Market returns for your Wednesday evenings this summer. This year's highlight is undoubtedly the Palm Springs Bar, a pop-up watering hole stacked with blow-up flamingos, desert plants, and summer cocktails. There's even a full-sized beach volleyball court to show off your skills. The Queen Victoria Night Market begins this Wednesday and runs every week until March 11th, 2020.
The Big Bounce
Who knew that Melbourne had the world's largest jumping castle? The Guinness World Record-certified bounce house takes centre stage at the Flemington Racecourse pop up this January, supported by 1,500 square metres of inflatable theme park. Think giant slides, climbing towers, obstacle courses, and basketball hoops for you to finally nail that slam dunk. Our tip would be to look out for the adults-only events, with The Big Bounce in town from January 3rd to January 19th.
After a two-year hiatus, the Inflatable Regatta is back and bigger than ever in 2020 with not one, but two rivers for revellers to float down. Both the Yarra and the Maribyrnong River will see 4,000 people paddling downstream on inflatable dinghies either solo or with a two-person boat. The first float kicks off on Saturday, February 1st from Yarra Bank Reserve in Hawthorn, while Maribyrnong sailors are scheduled to depart from Footscray Rowing Club on Saturday, February 29th. Tickets include boat hire, oars, and life jackets.
Want to escape the city for something a little quieter? Look no further than the Barefoot Cinema, a wonderful marriage between the unrivalled pleasures of cinema and breathtaking views. With a location in:
- Portsea (December 26th to January 7th)
- Mount Martha (January 10th to January 26th)
- and Rippon Lea Estate (January 29th to February 16th)
- you can essentially select what type of scenery to pair with your movie-going experience. Here, you'll also find some live entertainment and an entire array of refreshments on offer.
There's a different film screening each day, from such hit releases of the year such as Rocketman, Joker, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and Ad Astra, to some older hits like A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, and The Lion King (the OG animated one).