It’s turned a bit chilly in the southern states of Australia (seriously, those Antarctic blasts can be biting!) but Melbourne is a city embracing the prickles of winter by offering an excellent assortment of wintertime activities. 

Queen Victoria Market - Winter Night Market entrance lit up Australia
Melbourne's Winter Night Market draws a crowd for its street food and entertainment © Ewen Bell / Queen Victoria Market

Soak up the atmosphere at the Winter Night Market

Hump day just got hot!  Every Wednesday from 5pm running through to late August the iconic Queen Victoria Market, located on the outskirts of Melbourne’s city center, hosts the raucous and delicious Winter Night Market. Rug up in your best winter woolies and head to the market to gorge yourself on delicious street food, artisan beers and mulled wine whilst watching street performers and live music, or perhaps take part in a silent disco. Best of all…entry is free!

Judy Watson an Australian Aboriginal artist at work
Waanyi artist Judy Watson is among the exhibitors at Flinders Street Station © Shadow Spirit exhibition

See groundbreaking work at Shadow Spirit at Flinders Street Station

The derelict upper level of Flinders Street Station has become the new home for innovative and immersive installations in Melbourne. The latest, Shadow Spirit, assembles 30 First Nations artists and collectives in a compelling new exhibition. Curated by Yorta Yorta woman Kimberley Moulton, Shadow Spirit is a groundbreaking experience exploring Ancestral spirit worlds and knowledge systems. Be quick as this exhibition closes on 30 July, 2023. 

Group of friends at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne
One of the immersive light installations at Lightscape this winter © Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Immerse yourself in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens Lightscape

Over 100,000 tiny lights are set to illuminate one of Melbourne’s most visited attractions, the Royal Botanic Gardens. After a successful first season in 2022 Lightscape has been re-imagined featuring a brand-new extended trail creating the ultimate after-dark experience. Only one installation will be repeated from last year's event ensuring attendees will be treated to a completely new experience fresh to Melbourne. Food-trucks and pop-up bars will line the refreshed route providing perfect creature comforts for your late-night ramble. Lightscape is a ticketed event that runs from 16 June to 6 August, 2023.

Train of Lights showing the Puffing Billy steam train lit up with neon lights
The Puffing Billy experience is transformed this winter © Peter Casamento / Casamento Photography

Experience the Puffing Billy steam train transformed by light

Embark on a brilliantly unique night-time adventure on one of Australia’s most beloved steam trains Puffing Billy. Train of Lights is a limited winter offering where the iconic choo-choo illuminates the surrounding bushland with a bespoke lightshow as the train snakes its way between the townships of Emerald and Gembrook. The dark and shadow comes alive with psychedelic swirls, pretty patterns and even the odd Aussie marsupial or two. The recently refurbished Lakeside visitors center in Emerald is also home to the Puffing Billy Museum and Cafe – get there early for the full experience.     

Two women stoking an outdoor fire at Larnook - off-grid accommodation in Victoria
The Yarra Valley celebrates winter with a bespoke food and wine festival © Ben Savage / Visit Victoria

Indulge in food and wine at Fireside Yarra Valley

One of Victoria’s most renowned wine regions (just over an hour away from central Melbourne), the Yarra Valley celebrates all things food and wine across a 16-day stretch in July with the Fireside Festival. Discover local produce on speciality winter menus across the region. Choose from “Fizz and Fondue” at premier sparkling producer Domain Chandon or the “Bloody Hot Cocktail Class'' presented by award-winning spirits producer Four Pillars or join dining institution MoVida as they create a duck paella over an open fire at the gorgeous Tarrawarra Estate. A word of warning: you may need your “roomy” jeans for this culinary adventure.

Explore related stories

Close-up of Christmas turkey

History

Get stuffed: Christmas dinners around the world

Nov 30, 2020 • 5 min read