Our fave FREE things to do this summer in Melbourne

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Maybe your new year’s resolution was to save up for a house deposit, for a trip to South America or just to be more careful with your cash in general in 2019.

If that is the case, we have good news: being frugal doesn’t mean you have to stay home night after night and miss out on all the fun in the sun.

There are so many and varied fantastic free activities and events dotted all over the city this summer, it’s tricky to decide where to head first!

From the hundreds of exciting and enticing things happening, we’ve whittled all the activities down to come up with our top seven favourite free things to do in Melbourne during the summertime.

st kilda fest main stage
Image: Rydges

The best free activities during summer in Melbourne

More than just tennis

What: Designed to attract a wider audience to the Aus Open, the inaugural Australian Open Festival is now on. Watch all the live tennis action over a few cold beverages at the Canadian Club Racquet Club and Garden State pop up bar. Feeling peckish? There’s food trucks from excellent Melbourne eateries on site, such as Huxtaburger and Hunky Dory. You can also catch all your favourite sports films (such as Million Dollar Baby, I ,Tonya and The Blind Side) at the AO Tennis Club Twilight Cinema from 7pm daily.

Where: Birrarung Marr

When: 14 Jan- 18 Jan. Mon-Wed 4pm-11:30pm. Thurs-Sun 12pm-11:30pm.

Canadian Club Australian Open viewing
Image: Canadian Club Australia

Rooftop trivia

What: The Waterside Hotel is hosting ‘Shit Pub Trivia’ on their rooftop on Mondays. There’s over $150 worth of prizes up for grabs weekly. Happy hour kicks off at 5pm so get there early for $7 drinks and to take in the pretty city views. Round up your mates and book a table to get involved.

Where: Waterside Hotel, Melbourne

When: Every Monday from 4 Feb, 7:30pm onwards.

Live music at sunset

What: We’re psyched that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) free concert series is returning to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl this year. In fact, the MSO is celebrating a massive 90 years of free concerts by performing famous pieces by Gershwin, Tchaikovsky and much more. The mellifluous sounds of the MSO create the perfect soundtrack to a warm summer evening watching the sun set over the city as you sup on a picnic dinner.

Where: Sidney Myer Music Bowl

When: 8, 16 and 20 Feb. Gates open 4:50pm, music from 7:30pm.

sidney myer music bowl
Image: Visit Melbourne

Punch out

What: If you need to work out some frustrations, plan to get fit this year, de-stress or just want to have some fun hitting the pads, a boxing class may be just the ticket. Run by Get Going Personal Training these weekly Fed Square boxing sessions will get your heart pumping and help boost your fitness with ‘fighter’ style drills, technique tips and combinations. You can register your interest on Facebook but also just front up on the day.

Where: Fed Square

When: 29 Jan- 30 April, Tuesdays 6pm-7pm. 

Open air cinemas

What: Grab a beanbag, a bottle of wine and pack a picnic basket and head to Movies Under the Stars at Yarra’s Edge. Showing blockbuster films including The Great Gatsby, Black Panther and Peter Rabbit, these summer sessions will be hugely popular so make sure you register you and your pals for entry to the event now. It’s also dog-friendly so your furry friend doesn’t have to miss out.

Where: Point Park, Docklands

When: 7, 8 and 9 Feb from 6:30pm.

movies under the stars melbourne
Image: City of Melbourne

What: Park Cinema in Docklands is back again this summer with some absolute cracking classic movies on the schedule (Labyrinth, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Bride and Prejudice). You can even order Uber Eats to a dedicated drop off point at the event. Sounds like the set-up for the perfect chilled evening out. Don’t forget to register to secure your free ticket.

Where: Buluk Park, Docklands

When: 8, 15 and 23 Feb from 7pm.

Beachside festival

What: Australia’s largest community festival, St Kilda Fest, is back yet again. This year’s line-up includes DZ Deathrays, The Cat Empire, The Preatures, Saskwatch and Troy Cassar-Daley, just to name a few. Besides the live music there’s also loads of activities and things to do all around the festival precinct. Such as hip-hop yoga, beach volleyball, carnival rides, food trucks and market stalls.

Where: Fitzroy Street, Jacka Boulevard, Upper Esplanade and Acland Plaza, St Kilda.

When: 10 Feb.

Arty fun

What: For the first time in Australia the NGV presents the incredible work of British artist Julian Opie. With an instantly recognisable bold, minimal style Opie’s most recent works feature lots of portraits and walking figures drawn straight from the streets of Melbourne. The exhibition showcases paintings, moving images and even stone sheep sculptures. You’ll also spot cool sculptures of people walking captured mid stride in the lobby and even a cheeky one in the NGV fountain. There’s a studio for kids too with a bunch of interactive Opie related activities.

If you enjoy getting hands on, Melbourne designer Georgia Perry is running a drop-in badge making workshop at the exhibition. Pop in to make a customisable acrylic portrait brooch as a souvenir inspired by Opie to take home.

Where: Ground Level, The National Gallery of Victoria

When: 9 Nov- 17 Feb, 10am-5pm. Badge workshops 19 Jan, 26 Jan and 2 Feb 11am-1pm.

Julian Opie NGV
Image: NGV

Comedy nights

What: Head to Club Voltaire on a Sunday night for drinks and a chuckle. You’ll see some of Melbourne’s best up-and-coming comedians trying their hardest to make you laugh out loud and testing their material ahead of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Avoid disappointment by reserving your free ticket ahead of time.

Where: Voltaire, North Melbourne

When: Every Sunday 13 Jan- 24 March, 7:30pm-9pm.

Being thrifty doesn’t necessarily mean staying home eating 2 minute noodles and watching Netflix all week. There’s so much to explore and enjoy in the city this season even on a shoestring budget.

We hope you’ve marked down at least a couple of these events in your diary to check out this summer. For more ideas take a look at our top Melbourne family-friendly activities and easy Melbourne day trips.

Have a happy summer!

The Homely Team

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Larissa Gardner
Larissa Gardner is the Marketing Manager at arguably Australia’s best looking real estate website homely.com.au. With a superb devotion to product innovation, user-centred design and innovative marketing platforms for real estate agents, homely.com.au helps millions of Australians find their next home.

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