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Victoria’s unmissable summer events
Your go-to summer events guide for good times across Victoria this sunny season.
It wouldn’t be summer without the beach, backyard barbecues and a stellar summer festival, or five.
Whether you’re searching for a night dancing under the stars or need something to keep the little ones entertained, Victoria turns up the festival heat, on and off the stage, throughout the sunny season. (More: Top 10 things to do in Victoria over January)
From sampling fresh abalone sashimi in Apollo Bay to settling in for free outdoor movie screenings in Rosebud, here’s our guide to see you through many a sun-soaked afternoon and balmy evening.
Slides: St Kilda Festival, Melbourne; Nightjar Festival, Geelong; Australian Open, Melbourne; Peninsula Film Festival, Rosebud; Midsumma, Melbourne; Great Australian Beer Festival, Geelong.
10 of the best festivals to check out this summer in Victoria
Torquay: Thursdays in January; Geelong: Fridays in February
Escape to the seaside for a night of music, markets and marvellous eats at the Surf Coast's infamous Nightjar Festival. The summer pilgrimage for locals and visitors fuses together an evening to satisfy the senses, with the best of the region taking to the stage and the food stalls each week. Pack a picnic rug, grab a sangria and settle in on Thursdays in January in Torquay or Fridays in February in Geelong.
Plus, RACV members can stay and play with 25 per cent off accommodation at RACV Torquay Resort.
19 January to 9 February, Melbourne
Melbourne’s summertime celebration of queer arts and culture, Midsumma spans music, theatre, exhibitions, film, parties and sport at venues throughout the city. Take in the celebratory Pride March on 2 February, drag extravaganza What a Drag on 8 February, a Melbourne Queer Film Festival screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Coburg Drive-in on 31 January, and follow it up on the dancefloor at Bowie Ball. With more than 190 events, there’s something on the program for everyone. Read our guide to seven of the best Midsumma events.
20 January to 2 February, Melbourne
There are changes in store for Melbourne’s much-loved annual celebration of all things tennis, with the Australian Open now extending from Federation Square right through to Richmond Station. While the Open’s grand-slam status guarantees excellent tennis, off-court there’s talent aplenty on the AO Live Stage, kicking off with a Bushfire Relief concert headlined by Jessica Mauboy. The AO Ballpark and Hilltop serve up rock climbing, water fountains, ziplining, karaoke, a splash park and rides for the kids, and Melbourne’s favourite kitchens serve up meals from the likes of 400 Gradi, My Miyagi and Rockpool. For more on aceing a day at the tennis, including how and when to go, where to find your favourite ace, and tournament director Craig Tiley’s tips for making the most of your visit, read our Ultimate guide to the Australian Open.
Chinese New Year
From January 24
The Year of the Rat kicks off on Saturday and festivities will run for two big weeks throughout the state. RACV members can celebrate with two special RACV member events – an outdoor cinema screening of Ratatouille (starring Remy the rat) and an Australian-Chinese barbecue, both in Chinatown Square on Cohen Place. RACV members can register here for one of 50 VIP seats, plus a free bottle of water and prawn crackers, for Ratatouille at 7pm this Friday, 24 January. The barbecue, incorporating Chinese and Asian flavours and held from 3pm to 8pm on Sunday 26 January, is free for the first 100 RACV members who register here. On Sunday 2 February take in the 2020 Chinese New Year Festival Day in Chinatown, including the RACV-sponsored Millennium Dai Loong Dragon Parade at 11.30am. Enter the competition to win a $500 RACV Resorts voucher, and visit RACV’s marquee at the corner of Russell and Little Bourke streets for free face painting.
RACV Australia Day Festival
26 January, Melbourne
One of Melbourne’s favourite celebrations, the RACV Australia Day Festival in Kings Domain Gardens, kicks off at 11am on Sunday. This family-friendly event celebrates our rich diversity and features main-stage entertainment including the Giggle and Hoot Show and the Lah Lah’s, activities for all ages at the new ‘great Aussie back yard’, and culinary delights from around the world. Check out our heritage vehicle showcase of Australian-made vehicles, and listen out for the 21-gun salute and the Roulettes flyover. Read on for many more Australia Day events throughout the state.
Until 22 March, Melbourne
The annual pop-up event hub MPavilion in the Queen Victoria Garden is running a vast February program with more than 40 talks, workshops and experiences on sustainability, food resources and designing for the future. RACV is presenting a ‘talk marathon’ called MRelay – Climate Crisis, powered by local thinkers from a broad range of generations, backgrounds and life experiences including RACV senior planner Stuart Outhred. Rather than speaking at the audience, participants in this event interview each other about their views. RACV members can get free coffee at the MPavilion Kiosk in February if they bring a reusable cup.
1-2 February, Abbotsford
Hoppy days await at Abbotsford Convent. The venue plays host to a talented line-up of Aussie breweries and producers for the Brewer's Feast on 1 and 2 February, including Hop Nation Brewing Co, Stone & Wood, Urban Alley Brewery and Red Duck Beer. Make sure you try a tipple of the 20 beers brewed exclusively for the event. It’ll be topped off with food trucks galore, plus live entertainment by local artists featured on Triple J Unearthed.
Various dates through January to March, Parkville
Do your bit for wildlife protection while enjoying a backdrop of some of the country’s best musical acts at the Zoo Twilights. Alongside its resident stars, Melbourne Zoo will come alive with a host of adored acts. You can still grab tickets to Confidence Man on 24 January, Icehouse on 26 January, Cat Empire on 16 February and Methyl Ethyl on 22 February. And the best bit? All proceeds help save the critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum from extinction.
Peninsula Film Festival
31 January to 2 February, Rosebud
Don’t stay indoors watching movies this summer. Do it outside, instead. Mornington Peninsula’s coveted film festival returns to Rosebud from 31 January to 2 February. Grab a $25 ticket to the Oz Indie Showcase on Friday evening, head down to the free outdoor screenings of 20 short films on Saturday or sign up for the filmmaking workshop at Rosebud Cinema on Sunday.
And don’t rush home. RACV members save 25 per cent on stays at the award-winning RACV Cape Schanck Resort, which is home to the recently hatted Cape Restaurant.
St Kilda Festival
9 February, St Kilda
The St Kilda foreshore makes a pretty special backdrop at sunset, but it’s even better when it’s accompanied by some of Australia's best musicians, who will perform across multiple stages. The country’s biggest, free live music festival, St Kilda Festival, which is sponsored by RACV's journey planner app arevo, returns on 9 February to celebrate 40 impressive years. With more than 50 acts, including favourites such as Busby Marou, Cash Savage, Hot Dub Time Machine, The Black Sorrows and Mama Kin, get ready to dance the day – and night – away. Check out the full line-up, here.
Apollo Bay Seafood Festival
14 to 16 February, Apollo Bay
Hit the Great Ocean Road for a celebration of seafood by the seaside at the Apollo Bay Seafood Festival from 14 to 16 February. We’re talking lobster rolls, seafood dumplings, octopus skewers and abalone sashimi. The main event unfolds on Saturday when the harbour launches into a vivacious village of pop-up restaurants, cooking demonstrations, markets, interactive demonstrations for little ones and live music. There’s also a Gala Dinner on Friday hosted by Peruvian chef Alejandro Saravia of Pastuso and Farmer’s Daughters, and a panel discussion on Sunday, exploring issues affecting our oceans and land.
Tyabb Air Show
8 March, Mornington Peninsula
When the calendar ticks over into autumn, head to the Mornington Peninsula for high-octane thrills at the Tyabb Air Show. Get uniquely close to the action for low-level aerobatics, high-energy displays of Australian Defence Force aircraft, a unique flying collection of vintage and antique aircraft, and veteran and vintage cars and motorcycles. There will be food trucks and drinks available onsite, and visitors can bring their own picnic.