On the last Saturday of September, millions of Australians come together to watch one of the biggest sporting events of the year, the AFL Grand Final. AFL is Australia’s national sport, and its final game of the season is so significant that in 2015 Victoria put a public holiday the day before to celebrate the occasion. Here are six things you can do on the Grand Final long weekend.
1. Party at the Grand Final Parade
The Grand Final Parade is a free public event that takes place on the Friday of the long weekend, from 12pm to 1pm. The parade travels from the city to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), where the game will be played the following day. Head along to enjoy live entertainment in a carnival atmosphere, and get a glimpse of the star AFL players that will represent their teams in the big game. You can find more details on the official AFL website.
2. Watch the Grand Final
Even though the MCG can seat up to 101,000 people, tickets are still very difficult to get your hands on. Thankfully, there are plenty of other places to enjoy this iconic sporting event. The big screen at Federation Square will broadcast the game live, and often attracts a large crowd for you to cheer along with. Many other venues around Melbourne such as pubs and sports bars will also broadcast the game on their tv screens. Alternatively, host your own viewing party and watch the game with your friends on free-to-air television.
3. Dance at the Premiership Party
At 6pm on Saturday once the Grand Final is over, the MCG opens its doors for a free public concert, the Premiership Party. It’s a fun opportunity to see big name musicians perform their greatest hits, and party inside one of the largest sporting stadiums in the world. Read more about AFL Grand Final events
4. Go shopping
Melburnians get so caught up in the AFL Grand Final that some parts of the city feel completely empty during the game. If you’re not a fan of sport, the Saturday of the Grand Final is a great time to visit Melbourne’s famous shopping destinations without the usual crowds.
5. Be a tourist for the day
While all the Australians are watching the game, you can beat the crowds at some of Melbourne’s biggest tourist destinations. The Melbourne Zoo, National Gallery of Victoria, and Eureka Skydeck are usually bursting with people, but Grand Final Saturday is a great day to enjoy these hotspots in peace and quiet. Be sure to go on the Saturday though, as the extra tourists in Melbourne over the long weekend will flock to these places on Friday and Sunday.
6. Get out of town
The AFL Grand Final brings people from all around Australia to Melbourne for the weekend. If you prefer a quiet long weekend, take this opportunity to see the beautiful sites around Melbourne in regional Victoria. This guide to Victorian road trips by Concrete Playground can help you choose. The Great Ocean Road, the Yarra Valley, or Daylesford and Sovereign Hill are all a few hours away by car, or you can book a professional guided tour with Bunyip Tours.