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Melbourne City Culture

The Melbourne Cricket Ground
Melbourne City Culture
On the cutting edge of cultural and culinary trends, Melbourne offers something for everyone, whether you’re into art, food, sports, or history. The city seamlessly blends the old and the new, pairing high culture with an active lifestyle.


Photo courtesy of Peter Dunphy/Tourism Victoria
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    The Melbourne Cricket Ground
    The Melbourne Cricket Ground
    The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is the hub of local sports culture. A massive complex adjacent to the city center, The G, as locals call it, hosts a range of events, though “footy” (Aussie rules football) and cricket are the two mainstays. Regardless of what you see here, you’re bound to get swept up in the crowd’s excitement, so just pick a team and cheer it on. Games at MCG offer a great chance to meet locals and have some serious fun.
    Photo courtesy of Peter Dunphy/Tourism Victoria
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    The Festival Circuit
    The Festival Circuit
    If you want a challenge, try finding a week in Melbourne that doesn’t feature a festival. Whether focused on comedy, art, music, food, or fashion, events abound here, keeping locals busy year-round. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, running from late March to mid-April, is a magnet for homegrown acts and visiting comedians alike. Two other big draws are the Melbourne International Film Festival in the first half of August and the Melbourne Writers Festival at the end of the same month. Melbourne Music Week, in November, is so big that it’s held everywhere from St. Paul’s Cathedral to Melbourne Town Hall; 250 acts performed in 2017. Whether your tastes are mainstream or avant-garde, you can bet the city has a festival for you.
    Photo courtesy of Robert Seba/Tourism Victoria
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    Where to Shop
    Where to Shop
    Launch your shopping tour of Melbourne at Queen Victoria Market. Occupying two city blocks, the historic building is filled with fruit and vegetable sellers, fishmongers, and artisanal deli stalls, along with clothes and craft goods. Nowhere else can you shop for an hour and leave with fresh-baked bread, locally cured salami, a box of doughnuts straight from the fryer, and a hand-knit sweater. Lovers of big brands should head to Bourke Street Mall next. Despite its name, it’s not a mall but a pedestrian lane with a seemingly endless array of shops. Some of the city’s most creative buskers will keep you entertained while you browse. For homegrown fashion and boutique homewares, take a stroll along stylish Flinders Lane, for effortlessly cool men’s and women’s wear at Alpha60, the funky clothing concept store Design a Space, unique pieces by local artisans at Craft Victoria, and several floors of trendsetting stores at the Nicholas Building. If you’re more into secondhand stylings, try Chapel Street, or, for high fashion, go to Collins Street.
    Photo courtesy of Robert Seba/Tourism Victoria
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    The Art Scene
    The Art Scene
    Art is an important part of life in Melbourne, with vibrant murals, street art, and public sculptures everywhere you look. Take a walk along the William Barak Bridge and you’ll even hear art—the sonic installation Proximities plays songs from the local Wurundjeri Aboriginal people alongside those of immigrants from across the Commonwealth in an auditory homage to Melbourne’s diversity and creative spirit. Art aficionados will also be keen to visit more formal venues, including the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Victoria, as well as creative hub Abbotsford Convent, which features rotating multimedia exhibitions and seasonal outdoor cinema.
    Photo courtesy of Robert Seba/Tourism Victoria
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    Parks and Public Spaces
    Parks and Public Spaces
    While Melbourne feels “lived in” in the best possible way, the city has also done a great job of protecting its open spaces. The Yarra Promenade on the south bank of the Yarra River is a shady little lane that winds past shops and cafés, ending at the door of the Crown entertainment venue, while Fitzroy Gardens, near the MCG, is an idyllic spot for a picnic. Ride your bike or walk along its picturesque avenues, being sure to stop at the Fairies' Tree, so-named for the sprites carved into its trunk during the 1930s. Alternatively, take a free guided tour of the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens, or get a sense for the Aussie bush at sprawling nature reserve Yarra Bend Park.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria
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    Melbourne’s Hip Districts
    Melbourne’s Hip Districts
    Each of Melbourne’s neighborhoods has a unique identity. In bohemian Fitzroy, you can shop for handmade jewelry and artwork at the Rose St. Artists’ Market, while in multicultural Brunswick, you can try Nepalese cuisine at Gurkhas, then search for vintage treasure at Lost and Found Market. Head to Carlton to see Melbourne’s Italian influence on full display, or bike out to Northcote for fantastic city views from Ruckers Hill, plus plenty of exciting bars and restaurants along High Street. South of the Yarra, lights are brighter and shops are flashier—check out Ksubi, an Aussie denim and fashion brand gaining international attention. Clifton Hill, near Fitzroy, has a Victorian-Edwardian feel, and, just a little way out of town, St. Kilda is Melbourne’s favored beach retreat, with enough nightlife to keep you busy until sunrise.
    Photo courtesy of Robert Seba/Tourism Victoria
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    Federation Square
    Federation Square
    Federation Square is one of those dynamic open spaces that every great city seems to have. It’s Melbourne's centerpiece—a feat of geodesic architecture and a public park, complete with a cultural calendar. Stop by in the late afternoon to people-watch and see what’s happening that evening. From alfresco movies—shown on the colossal outdoor screen—to free concerts, there’s always something on the schedule. When hunger strikes, Fed Square is also a great food destination—it even has its own cookbook. Try the food trucks in the square, or visit one of the half-dozen fast-casual options, including an excellent dumpling bar. If the weather isn’t favorable, the interactive tour at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, also on the square, is worth your time.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria
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    The Crown Jewel
    The Crown Jewel
    During the famous Gas Brigades—held at the Crown Melbourne Entertainment Complex every hour on the hour, seven nights a week—eight enormous bursts of flame explode into the night sky, causing the crowd to erupt in applause. Like the spectacular fireballs that draw people to the venue, the Crown itself is impossible to ignore. It houses one of the largest casinos in the Southern Hemisphere as well as a bowling alley, movie theater, arcade, spa, and plethora of nightclubs. Guests can also look forward to shows every evening and some great restaurants, including well-regarded seafood spot The Atlantic.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria
  • 9 / 10
    Theaters and Shows
    Theaters and Shows
    It’s hard to think of a better performing arts city in the Southern Hemisphere than Melbourne. Here, dramatically staged musicals, emotionally explosive dramas, and off-the-wall comedy acts regularly play to eager audiences. Add nightclubs like Voltaire and The Butterfly Club, which offer ticketed burlesque performances, and it gets impossible to choose. The Melbourne Theatre Company stages revivals of classic plays as well as new work, while venues like the Regent Theatre specialize in musicals. The Athenaeum Theatre, built in 1839, is an attraction in its own right and an excellent place to see stand-up comedy. For something more intimate, spend an evening at the historic La Mama, where Cate Blanchett got her start, or have a laugh at Spleen Bar, which hosts free comedy nights every Monday.
    Photo courtesy of Mark Chew/Tourism Victoria
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    Late-Night Life
    Late-Night Life
    Full of thumping bass, stroboscopic lights, and rooftop views, Melbourne’s nightlife is anything but boring. When it comes to live music, the Tote Hotel in Collingwood has tons of personality, while the raucous Cherry Bar leads the rock ’n’ roll scene. There’s also the Forum Theatre, which draws big-name Australian and international acts. If the bar scene is more your style, try rooftop spots like Loop Roof, Madame Brussels, and the Imperial Hotel, or throw back beers at 2 Brothers Brewery, Arbory, and  Garden State Hotel.
    Photo courtesy of Paul Philipson/Tourism Victoria