Scanlan Theodore at Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival
The World’s Most Liveable City is renowned for its year-round calendar of events, its sporting prowess, its love of food and its passion for fashion. This autumn the city reaches fever-pitch, when some of Melbourne’s most loved events return, refining their programs to please fans of Formula 1, fashion, flowers and food and wine and funny jokes. Regional Victoria also welcomes a bevy of events this season – from running to surfing to Dreamworks, there’s something for sporty types and families alike. Here are just some of the events taking place this season:
Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival
Autumn kicks of with Australia’s largest and longest running public fashion event, the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (1 – 19 March 2017). Returning for its 21st year, the program features a multitude of free and ticketed events spanning fashion, arts, ideas and retail. Over 45 established and emerging Australian designers (a third of which have never been seen on the runway before) will showcase their new seasons’ collections during seven world-class Premium Runways (15 – 19 March) at the iconic Royal Exhibition Building. Off the catwalk, industry professionals from around the world will join in the Festival’s Ideas program and a curated Arts program will celebrate fashion beyond the runway into the realms of art, performance, design, film writing and creative industries. Highlights include the Fashion Film Series and the Fashion Writing Series.
2017 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix
The fastest cars, hottest celebrities and latest technology from around the globe make Melbourne home for four days of breathtaking action, on and off the track when the 2017 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix (23 – 26 March 2017) returns to Albert Park Lake circuit. As well as watching the world’s best drivers zoom around the circuit, the crowd can enjoy live music at the Heineken Village, some of Melbourne’s best food, stunt performances, street art and a dedicated kids’ corner. Entry to General Admission areas is free for kids aged 14 and under, making for a good-value family day out. With St Kilda and the city both just minutes away, motorsports fans can keep the festivities going at any number of bars, eateries and live music venues.
Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
Spring might be famous for flowers, but the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (29 March – 2 April 2017) brings out bright blooms in the middle of autumn. When the leaves on the trees are turning brown, pops of colourful flowers, brilliant bouquets and clever floral creations can be found at the biggest annual flower and garden show in the Southern Hemisphere – held at the heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. Australia’s top floral and landscape designers will showcase their stunning floral displays and offer tips and tricks to budding gardeners. An extensive array of garden and floral retail products will be available, including rare and unusual plants, alongside a selection of food and entertainment.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
The streets of Melbourne will echo with howls of laughter from audiences in 556 shows across 100 venues including the Melbourne Town Hall, The Forum, The Comedy Theatre and The Famous Spiegeltent when the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (29 March – 23 April 2017) returns for its 31st year. Artists set to tickle collective funny bones around the city include Australian favourites, Merrick Watts, Eddie Perfect, Judith Lucy and Denise Scott, Rove, Joel Creasey and Wil Anderson, along with internationally acclaimed comedians such as Daniel Kitson, China’s comedy superstar Storm Xu, David O’Doherty, Ruby Wax, Arj Barker, Stephen K Amos, and the very best from the Bengaluru Comedy Festival in India. The rip-roaring line-up of comedy, cabaret, street performances and theatre is testament to Melbourne’s position among the world’s top three comedy festivals (with Edinburgh and Montreal).
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
Celebrating 25 years, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival presented by Bank of Melbourne (MFWF, 31 March – 9 April 2017) kicks off with the World’s Longest Lunch plus 24 Regional World’s Longest Lunches across the state. The celebrations continue with a smorgasbord of culinary events throughout the 10 days. Coinciding with the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, MFWF will stage its hallmark event series MasterClass with some of the world’s best chefs. There will be over 280 events in total, with 80 taking place in regional Victoria, including quirky concepts such as Surrealism on a Plate, The Night of Irreverent Pleasures and Coburg Food Race along with classics such as Crawl n Bite and River Graze.
World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards
Victoria will be the centre of a global celebration of food and drink culture on a scale never before seen in Australia when Melbourne plays host to the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards (5 April 2017). More than 800 international foodie superstars will be in Melbourne to celebrate the annual awards that have become the most coveted ranking of the world’s best chefs. Melbourne is just the third city in the world (after London and New York) to host the awards. The program of events will cement the city’s reputation as a global food destination and trend-setter.
Rip Curl Pro
Australia’s surfing capital, Torquay (located at the start of the Great Ocean Road), will again welcome the world’s best surfers to its famous breaks at Bells Beach when the 56th Rip Curl Pro (12 – 24 April 2017) hits town. Surf’s up for the World Surf League’s top ranked surfers who carve up the waves and compete for the prized Bell – one of the most sought after trophies in surfing. Along with the action in the water, there will be plenty happening on land for fans, visitors and surfers alike, between the famous Bells contest site, the local pubs and legendary parties around town.
Great Ocean Road Festival of Running
Fitness fanatics can combine their love of running with some of the best views in the world, with the Great Ocean Road Festival of Running (20 – 21 May 2017). Comprised of seven events, the festival is best known as host to one of the world’s most picturesque sporting challenges – the Great Ocean Road Marathon. All abilities and fitness levels are catered for – with a Walk and a 1.5 kilometre run the entry-level options. More experienced runners can take their pick from the six or 14 kilometre run, the Half Marathon, Full Marathon or Ultra Marathon – definitely not for the faint hearted!
Lights by Dreamworks Exhibition
Fans of Dreamworks films such as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and Madagascar have more reason than usual to head to the Mornington Peninsula this autumn. Some of Dreamworks’ most loved characters including Shrek and Kung-Fu Panda will light up Rosebud’s foreshore in an Australian-first exhibition – Lights by Dreamworks (25 March – 30 April 2017). The large-scale lantern display is an interactive, walk-through experience and will feature scenographic pieces, LED furnishings, themed technology and learning zones, an immersive cinema experience and animatronic dragons. Rosebud is just the third venue to host the exhibition globally, after Chile and London.
Van Gogh and the Seasons
Art aficionados will be treated to an internationally exclusive exhibition when the National Gallery of Victoria, with Art Exhibitions Australia, presents Van Gogh and the Seasons (28 April – 9 July 2017) as part of the annual Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series. The featured works are on loan from international museums, including the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo and will be presented within sections devoted to each of the four seasons – a theme of perennial interest throughout Van Gogh’s career. Additional documentary material, including works from Van Gogh’s own art collection, provide context and show ‘the seasons’ as a subject of perennial interest to artists of many different cultures and eras.
Other Melbourne events in autumn:
Brunswick Music Festival (5 – 19 March 2017)
Moomba (10 – 13 March 2017)
Melbourne Queer Film Festival (16 – 27 March 2017)
Aladdin The Musical (from 20 April 2017)
My Fair Lady (from 12 May 2017)
Highlight regional events in autumn:
ShepARTon Festival (3 – 19 March 2017)
White Night Ballarat (4 March 2017)
Port Fairy Folk Music Festival (10 – 13 March 2017)
Tastes of Rutherglen (11 – 12 March 2017)
Good Beer Week (12 – 24 May 2017)
Castlemaine State Festival (17 – 26 March 2017)
Daylesford Macedon Ranges Open Studios (29 April – 13 May 2017)
Grampians Grape Escape (6 – 7 May 2017)
High Country Harvest Festival (5 – 21 May 2017)
Clunes Booktown Festival (6 – 7 May 2017)