Once the Christmas rush has subsided and New Year’s events have come to a close, our city returns to a more relaxed place as Melburnians and travellers leisurely explore the city’s laneways, rooftops and outdoor areas.
If you’re lucky enough to have extended holidays, now is the time to get out and about and discover what our city has to offer. If you’re already back into the daily grind, long summer nights still allow you plenty of time to create your own Melbourne moments.
The city of Melbourne has a rich culture that only brightens over the summer months. Fresh produce markets take on carnival-style atmospheres, universities transform into festivals, and carparks and gardens are converted to outdoor cinemas.
With so many events and experiences to explore, it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve put together a list of our favourite Melbourne moments to discover this summer.
1. Pickett’s Deli & Rotisserie
Melbourne legend, Scott Pickett, recently opened Pickett’s Deli & Rotisserie within the walls of Queen Victoria Market. Despite the name, Scott’s newest venture offers a full menu of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Stop past for breakfast where guests are greeted by freshly ground Duke’s coffee, flaky pastries and Scott’s signature bacon and egg buttie with bacon that has been slow-roasted overnight and carved to order in the morning.
For lunch, roast chicken is coated in a secret spice rub and generously layered between crunchy French style baguettes – perfect to eat in or take away. You’ll also find the rotisserie du jour that can be paired with any of the house-made pickles.
As the sun sets, Pickett’s Deli & Rotisserie transforms into a wine bar with a short and sharp dinner menu. Dine on a selection of snacks that include freshly shucked oysters, charcuterie boards and devilled eggs, or choose from more substantial items including Wagyu meatballs or rotisserie rock flathead.
2. Queen Victoria Market
All Melbourne foodies will appreciate the abundance of fresh produce that’s available over summer, and when Melburnians think of fresh produce, the first thing that comes to mind is the Queen Victoria Market – home to more than 700 traders across produce, meat, fish, dairy, deli and general merchandise.
As you wander up and down the aisles filled with mouth-watering produce, your stomach will quickly start to rumble. Thankfully, the affectionately named Queen Vic has plenty of ready to eat options as well as fresh produce.
3. Night Markets
If you prefer street food to a sit-down meal, Wednesday is your day to head to the Queen Victoria Market. From 5pm, the market halls come alive as the Summer Night Market gets underway. As the grills start to fire up, the aroma of street food from around the world wafts down the aisles and the sounds of Latin percussion groups, French Gypsy swing and Mediterranean guitar complete the festival-like experience.
Take your palate on a trip around the world with street food from Ethiopian, Latin, American and Europe. If you’re not sure where to start your culinary tour, take a look at some of our top picks here.
If a festival atmosphere is what you’re after, head to Shimmerlands, a two-month festival held within the grounds of the University of Melbourne. Throughout January and February, the usually tranquil university is transformed with an outdoor cinema, music amphitheater, indoor market hall and of course multiple bars and food venues.
Delicious offerings, provided by more than 20 of Melbourne’s best restaurants, have been curated by Melbourne hospitality guru, Jess Ho (Chin Chin and Smalls). Favourites include St Ali, Pho Nom, Pidapipo Gelateria, All Day Donuts, Belleville, Burn City Smokers, Rockwell and Sons, SPQR Pizza, Meet Patty and Shandong Mama.
Read more about Shimmerlands here.
5. Outdoor Cinemas
If there’s one thing Melburnians love, it’s converted spaces. For those who love to spend their summers catching up on the latest flicks, our city has plenty of interesting cinemas to discover.
The most Melbourne-esque of these cinemas is the recently opened Backlot Rooftop Drive-In. Located on the rooftop of the Harbour Town precinct, the drive-in cinema will have you feeling nostalgic in no time. The best bit about a drive-in? You get all the atmosphere and city views of an outdoor cinema, without the risk of cancellation due to our city’s infamous weather.
QV Melbourne is also hosting its own outdoor cinema this summer. Located in the open air in the heart of QV Melbourne, the cinema features deckchair seating and high quality headphones. The program features everything from music to sport, with a few bring-your-dog charity screenings also locked in for the season.
If you feel more at home among nature, Moonlight Cinemas in the Royal Botanic Gardens is the place to be. Set amongst the beautiful gardens, Moonlight Cinemas fills the Central Lawn with beanbags, or you can bring your own pillows and picnic rug.
6. Chinese New Year Festival
This year, Chinese New Year falls on Saturday 28 January. To celebrate the Year of the Rooster, Melbourne has transformed for 17 days, with festivities held all over the city, from Queensbridge Square, Queen Victoria Market, Chinatown and the Chinese Museum to the Melbourne Zoo, Eureka Skydeck, Southgate, Docklands and DFO South Wharf.
7. Lonsdale Street Greek Festival
Because Melbourne just can’t get enough of festivals, Lonsdale Street will transform on February 25 and 26. This year is the 30th year for our city’s biggest Greek street party. Discover a weekend of Greek culture, food and entertainment in Melbourne’s historic Greek Precinct.
There are three stages of free entertainment, children’s rides and activities and more than 60 food, drink and craft stalls.
8. White Night
For one night in February, Melbourne lights for a surreal experience known as White Night. Despite the name, the event fills our city with colourful, vibrant lighting displays and artwork installations.
Visit Melbourne’s landmarks showered in colour, or discover smaller laneways transformed into works of art.
9. Fed Square Live
Want to see free concerts by some of Australia’s independent and emerging acts? Yes, please! Head to Fed Square at 5.30pm every second Thursday through to 16 February to hear the sweet sounds from up-and-coming indie, electronica and soul artists.
The performances conclude at 7.30pm, the perfect time to pop into one of our city’s famous restaurants for a bite to eat.
Looking for more ways to experience Melbourne this summer? Visit What’s On to find out more.