Isobel is a Study Melbourne Ambassador. Study Melbourne has 15 international student and alumni ambassadors for 2019. During their time as ambassadors, they regularly share insights and experiences to help international students have a great experience while studying here in Victoria. 

By Isobel Bond

From food to the arts, Melbourne loves a festival! These events can be an amazing way to explore different cultures, share ideas, surprise yourself and experience something new with friends. With something always happening in this fun-loving city, there are festivals catering for all different interests. From month long to single day events, here is my guide to Melbourne’s (and Victoria’s) best festivals.

The Big Kahunas 

Since 2013, White Night has been a staple event on the Victorian Arts Calendar. On this one night that runs from 7pm to 7am, music, theatre and immersive art take over the city and unlock a world of wonder that contains adventure at every corner. This free event is so popular that this year White Night will run over three evenings in August from the 22nd-24th, promising a weekend that you definitely don’t want to miss!

One of only three in the world, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is a month long event in April that showcases all types of comedy from Australian and international artists. With free and ticketed events, there is something for everyone and it’s a great excuse to take a night off and raise those serotonin levels with family and friends.

Another big international festival that comes to Melbourne every year is the Melbourne International Film Festival! MIFF, as it is colloquially called, runs every August and acts as great way to escape the winter blues. Melbourne also plays host to a range of other film festivals, notably the International Chinese Film Festival and the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.

For the foodies, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival takes over the city in March and partners with local and international chefs to show off our incredible food scene. For those that miss out, The Queen Victoria Night Market runs every Wednesday in Summer and June and is a delightful combination of food and music in an iconic Melbourne building.

In November, Melbourne Music Week takes over the city with concerts from hundreds of local musicians and big international acts. This 9-day festival is a great way to explore the city with a soundscape that is unique to Melbourne. If music festivals are your thing and you’re willing to travel, Victoria hosts some of the best every year including Falls Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival and Groovin’ the Moo.

In the ’burbs

Festivals can be an excellent opportunity for communities to come together and show what they love about their suburb. As a traveller who wants

The Brunswick Music Festival is an institution that shuts down Sydney Road and fills it with music, food and vintage shopping galore! A breeding ground for hipsters and the epicentre for Melbourne’s indie music scene, this festival is a wonderful introduction to what this eclectic suburb has to offer. 

Back for its 40th year, the Johnston Street Fiesta celebrates all things Hispanic and Latin American in a two day event filled with churros, paella and salsa dancing! From the 16th of November the street is shut to cars and filled instead with sangria and soul that enlivens the whole suburb.  

The Whisky Wine and Fire festival will be taking over the Caulfield Racecourse for four evenings at the end of July celebrating Victorian produce and winter warmers. Another great place to pass a chilly night with friends is The Winter Village in Federation Square. Complete with ice-skating, igloos and fondue, this festival from May to August is the perfect way to embrace the cold.

Further Afield

Melbourne really does have it all, but sometimes taking a break and experiencing country life can be necessary for the soul. These festivals celebrate all that’s wonderful about rural Victoria and offer unique experiences that are accessible by car or public transport.

The Island Whale Festival in Phillip Island is an amazing opportunity to watch the annual migration of humpback and southern right whales this July. The three-day festival celebrates the natural beauty of the Australian Coast and is a good chance to explore the popular seaside town of Phillip Island.

Just a train ride away, the Woodend Winter Arts Festival from the 7th-10th of June is a great opportunity to get out of the city and explore this vibrant rural town. 

Melbourne is a festival filled city with something on every weekend, but I hope this list has given you a starting point for your adventures into the wealth of art, music and food festivals Melbourne has to offer!

About the author

Isobel has recently returned from living as an international student in the UK and has a love for travel. She is excited to share her knowledge of Melbourne and her experience as an international student. She enjoys learning about different cultures, particularly through food.  Meet the 2019 Study Melbourne Student Ambassadors.

Isobel Bond