What’s On in Melbourne in May [Updated for 2023]

Hello May! We’re now well into the year, almost hitting the halfway mark, which is kind of scary!

But no need to worry, because May in Melbourne is a great month to visit. The leaves have completely changed from green to their autumnal gold, orange and red, and fireplaces are starting to be stoked, creating cosy places to escape from the chill.

Here’s a curated selection of the must-dos happening this month.

This blog post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you).

Melbourne weather in May

The average temperature in Melbourne in May hovers between 10°C and 17°C during the day, so we’re starting to see the cooler weather set in.

There’s usually not too much rain, with around 8 days of rain, but it’s a small amount: only around 24mm fell last May throughout the entire month.

Check the upcoming Melbourne weather forecast online, and read my full guide to autumn in Melbourne.

Public holidays in Melbourne in May

Alas, there are no public holidays in Melbourne in May. After enjoying several public holidays in April, our next one comes in early June.

Major events and festivals in May

Check back regularly throughout the month – I’ll keep this page updated as I hunt down more events!

Melbourne Now

Celebrate new and ambitious local art and design. Everything from fashion and jewellery, painting, sculpture, architecture and ceramics, to video, performance, printmaking and publishing will be on display.

Dates: Until 30 August
Where: The Ian Potter Centre
Cost: Free entry
More info: Ian Potter Centre website


The YIRRAMBOI Festival brings together a feast of First Nations music, song, dance, drag, comedy, fashion, film and workshops. This year’s program sees more than 300 creatives across 170 shows at 40 Naarm (Melbourne) venues.

Dates: 4-14 May
Where: Various venues
Cost: Mix of free and paid events
More info: YIRRAMBOI website

Melbourne Writers Festival

The Melbourne Writers Festival brings together dozens of international and Australian writers, authors and poets to explore literature and big ideas. Legendary actor Sam Neill will discuss his new memoir, singer-songwriter Paul Kelly will sing and recite poetry, and Booker Prize winner Shehan Karunatilaka is also on the program. 

Dates: 4-7 May
Where: Various venues
Cost: Mix of free and paid events
More info: Melbourne Writers Festival website

Theatre, film and music

The Rocky Horror Show

One of the most-loved films is coming to Melbourne in a theatre spectacular. Book tickets now – the season is short!

Dates: 18 May to 11 June
Where: Athenaeum Theatre
Cost: Tickets from $69.90
More info: The Rocky Horror Show website


An enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician about to give up on his dreams when a beautiful young Czech woman takes a sudden interest in his music. It is an unforgettable story about reaching for your dreams and the power of music to connect us all.

Dates: Various dates throughout May
Where: Comedy Theatre
Cost: Tickets from $95
More info: Website

Mary Poppins

It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in Melbourne with the arrival of everyone’s favourite nanny!

Dates: Throughout May
Where: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Cost: Tickets from $59
More info: Mary Poppins website

& Juliet

Shakespeare gets a remix with some of your favourite pop anthems from Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry, The Weeknd and Kelly Clarkson.

Dates: Until 4 June
Where: Regent Theatre
Cost: Tickets from $60
More info: & Juliet website

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The cut-down version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is now playing in one (still long!) session.

Dates: Until 9 July
Where: The Princess Theatre
Cost: Tickets from $85
More info: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child website

Museums and art

Melbourne Design Week

Melbourne Design Week celebrates design in an annual 11-day program of talks, tours, exhibitions, launches, installations, and workshops across the city.

Dates: 18-28May
Where: NGV
Cost: Free
More info: Website

Sutr Santati: Then. Now. Next.

Curated by Lavina Baldota of the Abheraj Baldota Foundation, this brand-new exhibition brings together diverse and stunning textile traditions of India. 

Dates: Launches 12 May
Where: Melbourne Museum
Cost: Included in Melbourne Museum entry ticket
More info: Website

Melbourne International Animation Festival

At this full week-long animation film festival you can see the best new animated films from Australia and around the world.

Dates: 5-14 May
Where: Various venues
Cost: From $10
More info: Website

Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion

Marilyn Monroe. Geena Davis. Halle Berry. Margot Robbie. Michelle Yeoh. These – and more – screen goddesses are recognised in a new exhibition at ACMI.

Dates: Until October
Where: ACMI
Cost: $25 for adults
More info: Website

Gandel Gondwana Garden

Gondwana – the huge supercontinent that formed a mere 500 million years ago and connected Australia to much of the Southern Hemisphere – is brought to life in a new exhibition at Melbourne Museum.

Dates: Daily throughout May
Where: Melbourne Museum
Cost: Included with museum entry ($15)
More info: Website


Part game, part gallery, part journey, Imaginaria is great for the whole family. Immerse yourself in shimmering light sculptures, enter the interactive cave or the multi-dimensional light maze, or step inside a giant infinity bubble.

Dates: Various dates throughout May
Where: The District Docklands
Cost: Adults tickets $29.95, kids $27.95
More info: Imaginaria website

Temple of Boom

Created by Adam Newman and Kelvin Tsang and an “evocative reimagining of The Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens”, the Temple of Boom is the latest NGV Architecture Commission.

Dates: Until August
Where: NGV
Cost: Free
More info: NGV website

Experience the Dome Promenade

One of Melbourne’s most iconic buildings has opened a hidden part that hasn’t been accessible to the public for 100 years.

Dates: Throughout May
Where: Royal Exhibition Building
Cost: From $29 for adults
More info: Museums Victoria website

Monet & Friends at The Lume

Monet & Friends immerses visitors in French Impressionism at this digital gallery. Enhanced with sound and aromas, it’s a true sensory experience.

Dates: Until 4 June
Where: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Cost: From $33
More info: The Lume website

Thor: Love and Thunder at ACMI

Catch the incredible costumes and props worn by the all-star cast of Taika Waititi’s blockbuster Thor: Love and Thunder.

Dates: Daily throughout May
Where: ACMI
Cost: Free
More info: ACMI website

Food events in May

Hawker 88 Night Market

Fill your belly with food, with different weekly themes highlighting the food, culture and music of countries across Asia.

Dates: Wednesday nights until 10 May, 5-10pm
Where: Queen Vic Market
Cost: Free
More info: Queen Vic Market website

An Evening with Nigella Lawson

Hear about Nigella Lawson’s personal and intuitive approach to cooking, how different meals can lead to others, and how she uses ingredients as inspirations behind whole recipes and dishes.

Dates: 19 May
Where: Hamer Hall
Cost: Tickets from $90.80
More info: Arts Centre website

Good Food & Wine Show

Sample food and wine from hundreds of local and international exhibitors and learn cooking tips at this delicious three-day festival.

Dates: 19-21 May
Where: Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Cost: Tickets from $30
More info: Good Food & Wine Show website

Great Australasian Beer Spectapular (GABS)

GABS is your chance to try beers you’ll never taste anywhere else. Tim Tam beer? Yes. What about a Dunkin Donuts-inspired beer, or something that reminds you of red frogs? They’ve got that too. As well as more than 120 beers, there’ll be a tonne of entertainment activities.

Dates: 19-21 May
Where: Royal Exhibition Building
Cost: Tickets from $49.50
More info: GABS website

Good Beer Week

There are not one but two beer festivals this month! Beer fans have the chance to sip brews from dozens of local and international craft brewers in this week-long festival presented by the Independent Brewers Association.

Dates: 20-27 May
Where: Various venues
Cost: Entry prices vary
More info: Good Beer Week website

Sporting and outdoor events in Melbourne in May

The Long Walk

AFL legend Michael Long’s The Long Walk raises money for Indigenous education programs across Australia. Join the crowds for the iconic walk to the MCG, enjoy the live entertainment and food trucks, and be part of a worthy cause.

Dates: 20 May
Where: The walk begins at Alexandra Gardens
Cost: Free
More info: Website

Punting on the Lake

Glide between the bays and islands of the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Ornamental Lake on a guided boat cruise.

Dates: Daily throughout May
Where: Royal Botanic Gardens
Cost: From $75 (for up to 3 adults)
More info: Punting on the Lake website


The Big Design Market: Almost Winter

Browse and buy from more than 200 local makers, plus indulge in delicious food and drinks.

Dates: 26-28 May
Where: Royal Exhibition Building
Cost: Entry $6, kids 12 and under free
More info: Website

Community events and festivals

Korea Festival

This one-day event celebrates Korean culture, with exciting performances such as traditional music, K-Pop dance and singing competitions and Taekwondo demonstrations – plus some (safe!) Squid Games-inspired games!

Dates: 13 May
Where: Federation Square
Cost: Free
More info: Website

Buddha’s Day and Multicultural Festival

During this three-day festival, visitors can participate in guided meditation, learn the art of lion dancing or enjoy the impressive lineup of performances from Victoria’s best multicultural groups.

Dates: 19-21 May
Where: Federation Square
Cost: Free
More info: Website

What are you most excited to see and do in May in Melbourne?

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Header image: The Lume, courtesy of What’s On Melbourne

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I’m Rebecca, a Melbourne local excited to show you the best of Melbourne. After living abroad for 8 years, I’m back home in Melbourne, rediscovering this city that I love and have missed. My aim is to help you find the best things to do in Melbourne.

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