Arty things to see and do in Melbourne (and beyond) this summer
28th December 2018

Not everyone is lounging on a faraway beach this summer but, thankfully, there's plenty to keep you (and the kids) entertained in and around town. We’ve rounded up all things cultured and convivial to help while away those hot summer days and nights.


Now in its 10th year, the Peninsula Summer Music Festival brings seasoned musicians to some of Victoria’s most scenic day-trip destinations. Tour various venues from galleries to wineries, including for the first time this year, Coombe Winery in the Yarra Valley. The festival has an emphasis on chamber music but there’s plenty else in the way of swing, jazz and more, as well as a kids’ program on the weekend of January 3-4.

The Australian Haydn Ensemble performs at the Peninsula Summer Music Festival in January.

Peninsula Summer Music Festival January 1-19, various venues and prices.


Riffing off the NGV’s summer exhibitions, the gallery’s summer kids’ program centres around the theme of “make believe”. There are arty activities, workshops, a treasure hunt to find all the dogs hidden in artworks around the gallery, and a magic show from Nicholas J. Johnson inspired by M. C. Escher’s optical illusions. (NGV International's summer blockbuster Escher x nendo is definitely a family-friendly exhibition, too.) Teens can create a DIY photo shoot based on the works of Polly Borland.

NGV Kids Summer Festival. Credit:Tobias Titz/National Gallery of VictoriaPhotographic Services.

NGV Kids Summer Festival January 5-13, 10am to 3pm daily, NGV International and NGV Australia, free.


A hot tip for the aforementioned Peninsula Summer Music Festival is its inaugural Bach and Bathe concert, coming to the exquisite Peninsula Hot Springs. Hop into your togs, take a dip and let the sweet sounds of a string quartet soothe your soul as the sun sets. The program is inspired by Bach and Mendelssohn's own sojourns at health spas back in the day, and the music they each wrote there. There are several price tiers available, including for an extended bathing session before the show, or a seated performance only, for those who prefer to stay dry.

Hot springs at sunset … Mmmmmmm.

Bach and Bathe January 11, Peninsula Hot Springs. Tickets $75-130.


The experimental theme of this family-friendly festival, Mecha, even goes as far as the event itself: it’s a brand new offering created by artist duo Cake Industries, who were inspired by art festivals they visited in Europe. Happening just west of Ballarat, you'll find all manner of experimental and hybrid art forms such as robotic sculptures, digital installations, performance art and more. Tickets are strictly limited and must be pre-purchased online; all profits go directly to exhibiting artists.

King by Cake Industries (Jesse Stevens and Dean Petersen) is one of many experimental artworks that will be at the Mecha Festival of Experimental Art.Credit:Cake Industries

Mecha Festival of Experimental Art January 19, 11am to midnight, Scarsdale. Tickets $30 or $40 with camping; children $5 and toddlers free.


Midsummer is almost upon us. That means Midsumma – Melbourne’s biggest celebration of LGBTQIA+ arts and culture – is also, almost, upon us. Delve into a wide array of genres in venues all across the city and suburbs, from discussion to drag, cabaret to craft. Join Queer Asians Anonymous,  catch improvised soap opera of Gays of Our Lives, participate in Gay Life Drawing or catch a one-night-only concert from South Africa’s Nakhane. There's an extra emphasis on showcasing trans, gender diverse and intersex communities this year.

Ginger and Tonic perform in Gays of our Lives at Midsumma.Credit:

Midsumma January 19-February 10, various venues and prices.


Provided the mozzies stay away and the heavens don't open, you can't go past a sunset movie sesh for a special night out. Victorians are spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor cinemas; this December and January you'll find outdoor cinemas in the city ( and the Royal Botanic Gardens (, Belgrave (, Coburg (, Geelong (, Hawthorn (, Northcote (, Portsea/Mount Martha/Rippon Lea (, South Wharf (, St Kilda ( and Williamstown (

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