Spring has sprung, and what a superb season it is in marvellous Melbourne. Our beautiful boulevards are bursting with blossoms. Gardens – public and private – around Victoria and its capital city, are blooming with vibrant colours and gorgeous textures… As always, there’s plenty on. We share our thoughts on the top ten things to do in Melbourne this Spring.
THE SPRING RACING CARNIVAL
Galloping in to first place on this season’s event calendar is the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. Crowds have been largely absent for the past two years, but in 2022 glamorous gatherings in the thousands are set to grace the tracksides at Flemington and Caulfield and also around the state. There are 29 Country Cups and of course the Race that Stops the Nation – often reckoned to be the most famous horse race in the world – the Melbourne Cup, is held on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington. Some of the other time-honoured and much-loved meets include the Cox Plate, Derby Day and ‘Ladies Day’ or Oaks Day. Outrageous and ostentatious or subtle and svelte hats and fascinators delight the throngs of racegoers, along with fabulous frocks, whilst sartorially elegant gents swan around in tails and top hats. Canapes delight and champagne flows in the car parks and marquees and the bookies call their odds, as the punters mingle around or watch the action, hoping for a winner. Having a flutter or two during the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival is probably the most iconic activity to embrace in Melbourne in Springtime.
Always Live, the brand new Victorian Government initiative to bring live music and associated events back to the city kicks of this Spring. It’s the biggest music festival of this kind in the Southern Hemisphere. There’s going to be acts from around the corner, across the country and from all over the world performing in Melbourne at this rolling series of events which will take place in town and all over Victoria – from the Mornington Peninsula to the Murray, and from the Grampians to the Goldfields. Expect to see musicians from all genres striking chords; the variety of gigs is vast – so there’s sounds for all souls. For more information, check out their website.
You may have already heard the buzz about this phenomenon which has been enthralling art lovers all around the planet. It’s called a ‘digital gallery’ and visitors are literally immersed in digitally created theatres where the colours, sounds, smells and tastes of some of the world’s best-known artworks come alive for audiences. You’ve never experienced looking at a painting quite like this; that’s because it’s more like stepping inside a painting and hanging out with the artists and the subject matter, enjoying supper at that Parisian café with a French Impressionist, or savouring the aromas of the countryside and the birdsongs as the famous beret wearing artist surveys the landscape and easel… This takes art appreciation to the next level; sumptuous snacks and delicious drinks are served up to visitors – and it is definitely kid friendly too. The location is The Lume at the Melbourne Convention Centre, South Wharf.
THE AFL GRAND FINAL
This is the ‘One Day in September’ which doesn’t need to be explained to most people, just like that first Tuesday in November. Both are famous days on the Australian – and many would say world – sporting calendars – in Melbourne – the sporting capital of the Southern Hemisphere! Who’s going to be vying for that silver cup at the Grand Final of the Australian Rules Football Competition in 2022? It is especially exciting this year to have the big game back where it belongs – at our one and only MCG – where a packed crowd of 100,000 + spectators will be roaring with a fervour which can be heard two suburbs away. This code of football is the only truly all-Australian sport, invented here in Melbourne. Tickets are potentially going to be sold out quickly, so if you find you’re not able to attend, you’ll discover that the atmosphere in a bar, pub or tavern around town will be pumped, so if you can’t make it to the ‘G’, find a spot in one of our hundreds of lively venues and cheer on as these gladiators fight it out on the hallowed Jolimont turf, on Saturday 24 September. You can also marvel at the uniquely Melbourne spectacle of the Grand Final Parade which makes its way through the CBD streets the day before.
MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
If the live shows at Always Live are not quite your scene and a laid-back vibe at a dimly lit bar chilling to the grooves of jazz sounds more like your cocktail, then you’ll want to check out the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, which runs between 14 – 23 October. Musicians are making the trip to Melbourne from all corners of the globe, and playing at venues mainly around the city. And do we have some of the best bars and clubs in the world for hosting jazz sessions, or what? To find out who’s playing where and when, go to the website.
PICNIC IN THE PARK
Victoria is often referred to as The Garden State, and you take a look around Melbourne pretty much wherever you are and you see why. Our parks and gardens are the envy of the other capital cities – and internationally admired. The Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens are considered to be one of the best in the world. Spring time is the optimal time of year to visit ‘The Bot Gardens’ in South Yarra or one of the beautiful parks around town such as Queen Victoria Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens, or a bit further afield there’s the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden and the Victoria Rose State Garden at Werribee. Ballarat and Bendigo have wonderful natural beauty abounding as well, if a country jaunt appeals. So pack a hamper (maybe stock up on some fantastic fresh produce at Queen Victoria markets?), or why not get someone to do it for you – there’s a number of pre-packed picnic companies around town, such as picnicbox.co – and we hear that the experts at King & Godfrey in Lygon St supply a splendid selection.
MEANDER THROUGH THE AMAZING MAZE
We refer to the labyrinth of laneways in Melbourne’s CBD. You’ll find our Royal Arcade in this precinct, but allow yourself to get lost in these historic and iconic cobblestoned lanes and alleys… Don’t worry, you won’t get too far off the beaten track; you will eventually emerge at some stage onto one of the city’s classy boulevards like Collins St, or perhaps at the bustling Bourke Street Mall. In this nifty network of charismatic narrow thoroughfares, you will find all manner of bars and cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, galleries and more. Stop and sit down for a unbeatable Melbourne barista created coffee and watch the world go by – there are splendid spots and prime positions for people watching.
THE ROYAL MELBOURNE SHOW
The Royal Melbourne Show is a proud institution which has been held annually since 1848. It began as an agricultural show, the big city version of shows which have taken place in country towns in rural communities for hundreds of years. So you will encounter enormous
prize bulls, find fantastic fowls and super swines, as well as catch events such as the wood chop and dog trials – watch your kids’ eyes light up as they witness those clever kelpies round up sheep and run along their backs. Children will soon be begging for rides, showbags and fairy floss but it sure doesn’t hurt to show them a little bit of country life, especially if your family doesn’t make it out to the farm very often.
Melbourne channels its inner Munich and turns on an Oktoberfest which runs from September 17 through October 29. As a city renowned for its wonderful variety of watering holes, why not get on board one with one of the world’s great festivals of all things beer. Melbourne, like Munich is home to some very famous breweries and brews, after all. Our internationally most recognised beer, Foster’s, started in Melbourne (we know, hardly anyone in Australia drinks Fosters, but don’t tell them that in the UK, they won’t believe a word of it!). The German bar and restaurant, Hofbrauhaus, in Melbourne’s CBD, has all sorts of celebrations and events during our Oktoberfest, and there will also be fun and games at St Kilda foreshore.
CATCH A SHOW AND SEE THE LIGHT
Lots of shows, concerts and other performances will be happening in Melbourne in the next few months. Some to look out for are Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hamilton, Hairspray The Musical and 9 to 5 The Musical. There are incredible shows based on themes involving light at Heide Museum and at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) and there’s also an AR art trail – that’s Augmented Reality – which is a collaboration between Federation Square, the Koorie Heritage Trust, ACMI and the NGV. For more info visit the websites of the abovementioned institutions and for tickets to stage shows check out premier.ticketek.com.au or melbournetheatre.info
NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA
The National Gallery of Victoria is one of the most highly respected institutions of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It is just across the river from the CBD, across Princes Bridge from Flinders Street Station and you can’t miss it – the massive building which looks like a friendly fortress. The permanent collection is always worth wandering through, but this Spring they do have some extra special exhibitions, the main one being The Picasso Century, which runs until October 9. This has already been seen by thousands of people and has been talked about a lot, so make sure you get along to see this incredible collection of artworks by the master of modernism.