As the cultural and sporting capital of Australia, you can be sure that Melbourne’s social calendar is always teeming with world-class festivals and exclusive events. While there are new additions popping up all the time, the following have embedded themselves within the very identity of Melbourne and continue to solidify their reputation as must-see events.
Royal Melbourne Show
Since September 1848, Victorians have rolled up to the Royal Melbourne Show for 11 days of agricultural amusement. Located at the Melbourne Showgrounds, the show features blue ribbon competitions, amusement rides for all ages, a variety of pavilions, arts, and crafts, pop up restaurants, and most importantly show bags. This year there are 375 show bags on offer across all price points. Don’t miss the dazzling Royal Melbourne Show Fireworks spectacular every night.
AFL Grand Final
Arguably the most anticipated day on the Australian sporting calendar, the AFL Grand Final is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the last Saturday in September or the first Saturday in October. Two grand finalists battle it out to become the Premiership champions. The grand final attracts 110,000 spectators and 3.3 million home viewers and includes a pre-match, post-match and halftime concert. Since 1977, on the Friday before the game, the Grand Final parade is held in Melbourne and in 2015 the day was declared a public holiday.
Falls Music and Arts Festival
Held annually over the New Year’s period, the Falls Music and Arts Festival is a multi-day music festival that brings together local and international artists across a variety of genres including rock, hip-hop, electronic, indie music and blues and roots. More commonly known as Falls, the festival began in 1993 in Lorne and has since branched out to Byron Bay, Marion Bay and Fremantle.
Celebrating diversity and tradition the Moomba Festival is Australia’s largest free community festival drawing over a million people each year. First organised in 1955, the event is held in March across the Labour Day long weekend. Traditional events include the Moomba parade, the crowning of the Moomba Monarchs, a carnival, live music, water sports, nightly fireworks and the hilarious birdman rally which began in 1976.
Run at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington Race Course, the Melbourne Cup is the ‘richest two-mile handicap’ thoroughbred horse race and is celebrated in Victoria with a public holiday. Known as the race that stops a nation, the Emirates Melbourne Cup attracts 100,000 people including many famous faces and is an opportunity to sport formal spring racing attire in an effort to win Fashions on the Field. Those watching from home celebrate with a BBQ and their own sweeps.
Holding the record for the highest attendance at a Grand Slam tournament is the action-packed Australian Open which takes place in Melbourne. Held in January, the Australian Open is the first of the four international Grand Slam events and features men’s and women’s singles; men’s, women’s and mixed doubles and junior’s championships in addition to exhibition, legend and wheelchair events. Watch as legends including Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal compete for the cup at Melbourne Park.