Beat’s Guide to Melbourne’s best winter events

From film festivals and modern art to an in-depth synth museum. 

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In case you hadn’t realised, Melbourne comes alive every winter with a bevy of cultural events worth locking into your calendar. As the weather cools down, you’ve got even more reason to leave the house. From pyrotechnics to contemporary art, modern jazz and fine dining to festivals and markets -- we’ve put together your definitive list of the hottest things to do when the weather cools down this year.

Firelight Festival

Firelight Festival is your guaranteed bet to warm up Melbourne’s colder months, returning for 2018 with a myriad of flames jets, fire drums, pyrotechnics and fun. The opening weekend will see a giant wooden sculpture cast adrift in Victoria Harbour before being set alight, while Gypsy jazz and New Orleans-inspired brass soundtrack an evening of mystique. Further highlights include long-table feasts of indulgent Italian food and fireside storytelling.

Firelight Festival goes down from June 29 - July 31 at New Quay Promenade, Docklands. 


The spirit of ‘The Big Apple’ intertwines with Australia’s cultural capital (Melbourne, of course) in this groundbreaking new cross-cultural festival. Running from June through to October, MEL&NYC is an unprecedented celebration of everything that makes these cities great. From Rothko at the NGV to Regina Spektor at the Arts Centre, MEL&NYC is operating on an unprecedented scale. Further highlights include a curated dining program, in-depth panel discussions, and an evening of avant-garde improvisation from collective EXO-TECH led by art pop powerhouse Kimbra.

MEL&NYC takes over venues throughout Melbourne from June through to October.

Emerging Writers’ Festival

Is there any season more prime for creatives than winter? It’s the perfect time for hibernating indoors, notebook and coffee cup in hand, finalising your latest poem or story. Something tells us the Emerging Writers’ Festival knows this too, putting together another installment that’ll inspire any word-welder worth their salt. Kick things off with an opening night celebration that examines the future of storytelling, get down to an all-female literary exploration, or master the art of podcasting -- the choice is yours. One thing’s for certain though, you’ll never be intimidated by the blank page again.

The Emerging Writers’ Festival runs from June 19 - June 29 in venues throughout Melbourne.

Friday Nights at NGV

Modern jazz and modern art -- could there be a better a pairing for winter? I think not. Lovers of music and art will be able to catch headlining acts like Brooklyn-based trumpeter Maurice Brown, local group Cookin’ on Three Burners, and hip hop duo Remi as they take over the gallery until late every Friday night. The jazz sounds of NYC are a perfect pairing for the exhibit – MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art – which features over 200 masterworks from Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock and more

Friday Nights at the NGV run from Friday June 15 - Friday October 5.

Synthesizers: Sound of the Future

The Grainger Museum was at the heart of electronic music experimentation in Melbourne in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. Now they’ve teamed up with Melbourne Electronic Sound Studios (MESS) to commemorate the genesis of Melbourne’s electronic music scene between 1969 and 1974, where the Grainger Museum was turned into a state-of-the-art studio for teachers and students to experiment with the revolutionary technology of analogue synthesis. Synthesizers: Sound of the Future tells the story of this forgotten period in the Grainger’s history. Featuring an impressive suite of historic EMS instruments, Synthesizers functions both as an exhibition and open studio, allowing punters to observe the organic construction of electronic sound in the flesh.

Synthesizers: Sound of the Future will run until Sunday September 9 at Grainger Museum, Parkville


Returning for its 67th outing, Melbourne International Film Festival is once again bringing together a collection of films from at home and abroad -- with a selection that is bound to offer something for every taste. Highlights include the Australian premiere of Wildlife, Desiree  Akhavan’s  sophomore feature The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and slow-burn  thriller Transitis. Spread throughout venues across Melbourne, and with more than 500 screenings during its three weeks, Melbourne International Film Festival is once again proving why it's one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

Melbourne International Film Festival take place from August 2 - August 19 at cinemas throughout Melbourne.

Winter Night Market

Queen Victoria Market will once again light up for their annual Winter Night Market -- hosting over 30 food and drink stalls, 50 specialty stores and a rotating round-up of performers and live music every Wednesday, transforming the market into a bustling mid-week respite from the cold. You’ll be able to enjoy tasty classics like churro bowls from Churro Kitchen, That’s Amore pasta straight out of a wheel of parmesan, and warming paella from Simply Spanish. There’ll also be plenty of drinks to warm-up your insides, including ReWine with their spicy mulled vino, and hot apple cider courtesy of Cold Stream Brewery. One new addition to this year's market is the Book Nook, where you'll be able to browse new and second-hand novels, pre-loved records and meet Victorian-based authors.

The Winter Night Market runs from June 6 to August 29, 5pm-10pm every Wednesday.

This article is proudly sponsored by City of Melbourne in partnership with Beat Magazine. Learn more about our editorial policy here.