18 things every Melburnian should do this winter

Australians have an odd relationship with winter. After the summer when the sweltering nights seems endless, we welcome the cooler change and the thought of rugging up on the lounge with a warm cup of tea.

But anyone who says they love winter because they “get to rug up” is lying. Everyone is over it after a couple of weeks.

Instead of locking yourself away this season, we’ve come up with a helpful list of 18 winter activities for Melburnians that make the cold and blustery city on the weekends not only tolerable, but positively enjoyable.

Bonus: All of these double as cold-weather date ideas.

Did we miss one of your favourite things to do in Melbourne in the winter? Add it in the comments!

Catch a movie at Melbourne's International Film Festival.

Melbourne International Film Festival/ Facebook

The Melbourne International Film Festival features works from over 50 countries for 17 days each winter.

As well as screening some of the best films in world cinema, the festival is Australia's largest showcase of new Australian cinema and filmmaking talent.

This year the festival celebrates its 64 year, making it one of the oldest film festivals in the world.

Tickets to the full program will go on sale to the general public on 10 July.

While the First Glance selection has only just been released we can tell you six Australian-made films will be screened as part of the MIFF Premiere Fund program, including the centrepiece gala screening of Holding the Man, a film adaptation of the popular Timothy Conigrave.

Where: Forum Theatre, 154 Flinders St, Melbourne.
When: From July 30 to August 16.
Cost: An eMini Pass, which is grants access to 10 sessions (booked online) costs $155. But if you become a member the price drops to $130.

Hit the Night Market at the Queen Victoria Market.


A more relaxed and eclectic affair than its summer sibling, the Winter Night Market features an array of Melbourne’s finest artisans and food vendors.

Warm up with crackling fires, mulled wine and a revolving line-up of roving entertainers.

Expect to see Melbourne’s mushroom burger connoisseurs, Little Mushroom Co, the Texan flavours of Bluebonnet Barbecue, as well as the spice of Indian street from AutoRickshaw and the world-famous 400 Gradi.

Where: The Market is on the corner of Elizabeth and Victoria Streets in Melbourne's CBD. Enter from Elizabeth Street, Victoria Street, Peel Street or Therry Street.
When: Every Wednesday night, 5pm until 10pm from June 3 to August 26.
Cost: Depends on the size of your stomach!

Experience dance at its best when the Australian Ballet presents Cinderella.

Jeff Busby/ The Australian Ballet

Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella is back in Melbourne after popular demand, and sell-out seasons.

And if you've always wanted to see the ballet, but never had the chance, this exclusive encore is the perfect opportunity.

With stunning designs by Jerôme Kaplan and scores by Sergei Prokofiev played by Orchestra Victoria, Ratmansky’s Cinderella is everyone's favourite fairytale - but with a twist.

Where: The State Theatre, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
When: Showing from June 19 to June 27. The running time of the performance is 154 minutes, including 2 intervals.
Cost: $239 for an adult, $179 for a child.

Have some fun at the Ballarat pop-up ice skating rink.


While it may seem odd to have an ice skating rink in Australia, the traditional winter pass time enjoyed by Americans and Europeans is a fun way to spend time outdoors over winter.

However the novel activity is a popular spot for kids during the school holidays, so if you were hoping for a more romantic affair we suggest hitting the later sessions to avoid the rugrats.

As well as skating, the Ballarat Winter Lude offers toboggan rides, light installations, food carts and musicians.

Where: Armstrong Street South, Ballarat.
When: Weekends from June 27 to July 12. Session times: 9.30am to 10.30am, 11:00am to 12:00pm, 12.30pm to 1.30pm, 2:00pm to 3:00pm, 3.30pm to 4.30pm, 7.30pm to 8.30pm. Skaters are advised to arrive 15 to 20 minutes prior to session time commencing.
Cost: $10.00 for an adult, $20.00 for families.

Watch Collingwood take on Carlton at the MCG for Round 19 of the AFL.

Michael Dodge/ Getty

The sporting rivalry between Collingwood and Carlton Football Clubs is one of the biggest and longest lasting rivalry in the AFL, so what better way to experience the sport than see the teams go head-to-head at the MCG.

No teams have played against each other more than Collingwood and Carlton, and August 8 will be the 251st meeting; the first was in 1897.

Grab a pie and a beer, and head to your seat wearing your teams colours to enjoy a great Australian pass time.
Where: The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brunton Ave, Richmond.
When: August 8. The match start at 1.45pm and ends 4.15pm.
Cost: A pre-purchased ticket online for a seat behind the goals in the Great Southern Stand
will cost approximately $45.
Alternatively, the Ticketek Box Office Gate 3 opens 30 minutes prior to the MCC Reserve gates opening.

Have a drink at Vue De Monde (and a nibble if you can afford it).

At 236 meters high, the Lui Bar at Vue De Monde is famous for its sweeping views of the city to the bay.

Sit back in the finely furnished bar with artistic installations and sample the exquisite cocktails that reflect the same innovative philosophy as Shannon Bennet's restaurant.

And if you feel a bit peckish the bar offers a choice of reinvented snacks such as the ham and cheese toastie and smoked ocean trout, caviar and oysters.

If you feel like an afternoon of live music, jazz musicians play every Sunday from 3.00pm.

There is a dress code however, and the bar asks that guests dress 'in a manner appropriate to the surrounds to avoid disappointment.'

Where: Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne.
When: Monday to Wednesday 5:30pm to midnight, Thursday, Friday and Saturday midday to late, Sunday 11:30am to 11:00pm.
Cost: While entry is free, cocktails will set you back around $20 each, and snacks are around the same amount. Unless of course you wish to try the Beluga Caviar for an exy $210.

See the changing face of Victoria exhibition at the State Library.


Established in 1856, the State Library of Victoria is Australia's oldest public library and one of the first free public libraries in the world.

Wander through its halls and discover the people, places and events that have shaped Victoria.

From moving accounts of Australians during World War One, to what Coles looked like 100 years ago, and splashes of colour and quirk from cartoonist Kaz Cooke, learn more about historic characters such as Ned Kelly and explorers Burke and Wills, as well as the everyday lives of generations of Victorians.

Where: Dome Galleries, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne.
When: Every day 10am to 5pm, until December 31 2016.
Cost: Free.

Watch the Altitude 5000 - The Dinner Plain Sleddog Challenge.

The Annual Dinner Plain Sleddog Challenge event showcases the top dogs of sled dog racing in Australia and is unique in being the first Australian snow-based race of its kind.

More than 75 Mushers and in excess of 350 sled dogs are expected to compete at this year's two-day event.

Grab your camera, winter woollies and rug up for this exciting high country event exclusive to Dinner Plain.

Where: Dinner Plain Village, Great Alpine Road, Dinner Plain.
When: August 8 to August 9.
Cost: Free.

Get groovy at the Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival.

Winter Blues Festival/ Facebook

If you consider yourself bit of a musco then there is a high possibility that you've heard of the Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival.

This year marks the 15th annual festival and will be the largest to date with more than 80 blues artists filling 50 venues across Echuca Moama.

During the festival music can be heard from every street corner, restaurant and bar.

Most of the Winter Blues Festival is free! Better still most of the venues are within walking distance of each other so you can simply walk from venue to venue and band to band. That’s why the Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival is so popular and attracts more than 20,000 visitors every year.

Where: High Street, Echuca.
When: July 24 to July 26.
Cost: Free.

Spend a day at the racecourse at Flemington Finals Day.

Flemington Racecourse and Victoria Racing Club/ Facebook

If you can't wait till spring, and want to get in on some of the country's best horse racing action why not head to Flemington Racecourse for Finals Day.

The race brings together the most in-form gallopers across a range of divisions and distances to create the showpiece of winter racing for all racegoers.

With grand dining rooms, corporate suites, restaurants and vantage points, grab some friends or colleagues and head to the track for a winter punt.

Where: Flemington Racecourse, Flemington Drive, 428-550 Epsom Road, Flemington.
When: July 11.
Cost: Tickets are on sale eight weeks prior to raceday and be purchased online or at the gate. Entry for an adult will cost $12.

Get a fancy meat pie at Ballarat’s Best Pie Competition.

There's nothing quite like chowing down one a hot, steamy pie on a cold winter's day. But what if you could sample some of the best of the savoury pastries in the country?

This July, eat your way around Ballarat and try the range of gourmet pies made in house at local restaurants and cafes. Matched to Coopers Pale Ale, each pie will have a hero product carefully selected from the range of incredible produce we have right here on our doorstep.

The winner will be announced by guest judges Richard Cornish from The Age and Ballarat writer and chef Suzi Fitzpatrick at the Mining Exchange on the last day of the month.

Where: Various eateries in Ballarat. See the list here.
When: July 1 to July 31.
Cost: $20 per person.

Witness the soccer greats at the International Champions Cup.

Duane Burleson/ Getty

This tournament is the most significant football event ever to be seen in this country, featuring three of the best football teams in the world; Real Madrid CF, Manchester City FC and AS Roma.

The opening match will see champions of Europe, Real Madrid clash with Italian super club AS Roma. The historic opening match will showcase world class football talent like never before.

Melbourne City's sister club, Manchester City, will then also face off against AS Roma.

The final match is a must-see for any sports fan. World famous Real Madrid will go head to head with Manchester City in one of the largest football matches ever played outside of Europe.

Where: The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brunton Ave, Richmond.
When: July 18 to 24 July.
Cost: Between $60 and $220, according to your seating selection.

Grab a Nutella goyza from Peko Peko and stroll the streets of Fitzroy.

A stroll down Smith Street can overwhelm you with choice when it comes to finding somewhere for dinner. But while you may have trouble choosing where to eat we know the place you have to get dessert.

Peko Peko is a casual, affordable Japanese restaurant and it makes the most delicious Nutella gyoza.

A neat spoonful enveloped in a thin, crimped wonton wrapper, these deep-fried treats served with ice-cream (black sesame or green tea) are a dessert you can't pass up.

Get a serving take away and hit the street, taking in the smells, sights and ambience of one of Fitzroy's most delicious strips.

Where: 199 Smith Street, Fitzroy.
When: Monday to Friday 12pm to 3pm, Saturday 6pm to 10pm.
Cost: $9 for three wontons and one scoop of ice-cream.

Hear inspiring readings at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Melbourne Writers Festival/ Facebook

This year marks the 30th annual Melbourne Writers Festival, where writers, readers and thinkers come together to celebrate the world of literature.

While full details of the program won't be released in July. We know it is the perfect winter activity for those who enjoy thought-provoking discussion and the company of the literature community.

There are also events for foodies, travellers and connoisseurs of culture of all ages.

Where: Federation Square on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne.
When: August 20 to August 30.
Cost: TBC.

Explore the Light in Winter at Melbourne's Federation Square.

Artful Dodgers Studios/ Facebook

Grab a Sunday Guinness and a Pot of Sea at The Last Jar.

The Last Jar/ Facebook

The Last Jar is considered by many as one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

It’s authentic and welcoming, with the humble decor that gives off an Irish cosiness.

But the real star of this Irish pub is the menu.

Choose from a delicious range of home-made traditional Irish cooking such as Guinness Welsh Rabbit, whiskey-cured salmon and Pot of Sea bounty of mussels, cider, bacon, fennel & parsley, as well as the standard pub grub of fish and chips, steaks and interesting sandwiches.

Head down on a Sunday and be treated to live music by the fireplace from 5pm.

Where: 616 Elizabeth St, Melbourne.
When: Tuesday to Sunday from noon until 1am.
Cost: Between $20 to $40 for a main.

Star gaze the southern skies in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne/ Facebook

See the roof of Melbourne Observatory rotate and open to view the Australian night sky, and bring the stars with heritage telescopes and the guidance of astronomical experts.

Depending on the weather conditions - clear evenings are obviously more favourable - you may see clusters or double stars.

As well as star gazing, learn about the history of the observatory which was first constructed in 1861, and once provided critical scientific data essential for the smooth running of industries ranging from shipping to farming and city business to politics.

Bookings must be made in advance and the tours go ahead in all weather conditions.
Where: Melbourne Observatory in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne.
When: Every Monday and Thursday evening at 8 – 9.30pm from June 1 to August 31.
Cost: $22 adult or $65 for a family of four.

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