28 Fun Things to do in Melbourne in Summer in 2023/24

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Article written by: Rebecca
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Ahh, summer in Melbourne. There’s nothing quite like it. The days are heating up, bars throw open their windows, the days are longer, and there’s a palpable happy vibe buzzing through the city.

If you’re thinking about visiting Melbourne in summer, then prepare for warm weather and tonnes of sporting and cultural festivals and events to keep you busy. Sunlight until the late evening means that you can pack plenty into your day.

But this is peak travel season, so make sure you book your hotels in advance – and prepare to pay higher rates. I’d also recommend booking must-eat-at restaurants well in advance.

So, let’s get into what’s happening this summer in Melbourne!

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).

When is summer in Melbourne?

The summer months in Melbourne (and across Australia) are December, January and February

With daylight saving underway, the days are lovely and long, with the sun not going down until around 8/8.30pm. I love these longer days, when I feel like I can pack so much more into a day!

The temperature across these three months ranges between 13 and 26 degrees (55 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit), but can sometimes top 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit). Those days are sweltering in the city – and can cause havoc on public transport. Luckily, there are plenty of indoor activities in Melbourne to escape the heat.

December has the highest rainfall of the three months, with an average of 60.3mm, while January and February bring around 46-48mm.

For full details about all the seasons in Melbourne, you can read my guide to the best time to visit Melbourne.

Melbourne in summer is divine - with plenty of reasons to get outdoors and so many activities and events on, it's a great time to visit Melbourne
St Kilda Beach

Summer public and school holidays in Melbourne

Summer means the start of the longer school holidays, which inevitably means larger crowds across the city.

For 2023/24, the term 4 summer school holidays kick off on 21 December 2023, with kids returning to school on 30 January 2024.

As for public holidays, we have four:

  • Christmas Day – Monday 25 December
  • Boxing Day – Tuesday 26 December
  • New Year’s Day – Monday 1 January
  • Australia Day / Invasion Day – Friday 26 January
Melbourne in summer is a great time to visit the city - but be aware that it can also mean crowds
Crowds at Federation Square

What to pack for summer in Melbourne

Things to do in Melbourne in summer

So, what are the best things to do in Melbourne in summer this year? Plenty! Here are a few ideas for festivals and events, attractions, and ways to stay cool in the heat.

1. Sparkle at the Christmas festival

Like many cities all across the world, Melbourne lights up around Christmas time.

Federation Square turns into Christmas Square from 24 November, with a 16.5-metre tree and plenty of sparkling lights (see the lighting of the tree on 24 November). Santa will no doubt make an appearance as well.

Melbourne Town Hall and State Library are lit up with dazzling Christmas-themed projections.

Stop by Myer’s famous Christmas Windows. This year’s theme is the beloved children’s cartoon Bluey, and it’s a super cute and wholesome display.

See a full line-up of Christmas events planned around the city online. Read my full guide to Christmas in Melbourne, check out some of Melbourne’s best Christmas markets and get your Christmas shopping done with my Melbourne gift guide.

The vibrant Myer Christmas windows display in 2023 showcasing 'Bluey's Christmas' with colourful animated dog characters in a festive scene. Onlookers, including children and adults, some with strollers, are viewing the display. Above the display, bright red and green fringe decorations hang, contributing to the holiday atmosphere.
This year’s Myer Christmas windows feature characters from cartoon Bluey

2. Cheer on your faves at the Australian Open

It isn’t summer in Melbourne without watching the world’s best tennis players sweat it out in the Melbourne heat for the coveted Australian Open title. The 2024 Australian Open takes place between 14 and 28 January.

Book well in advance to nab tickets to the men’s and women’s finals, but you can also pick up affordable ground passes from just $10. Book tickets online.

If you can’t get tickets, you can always take a seat in one of the beach chairs in Fed Square and watch the matches on the big screen.

There’ll also be some fun pop-ups in laneways around the city, where you can learn to play POP tennis, which is played on smaller courts with shorter solid paddles and lower compression tennis balls.

The Australian Open is one of the best events happening during summer in Melbourne - this sporting event draws the best tennis players from around the world

3. See an incredible candlelit concert

If you’ve never been to one of the stunning Candlelight Concerts by events company Fever, this summer it’s time to change that.

These concerts are absolutely mesmerising. Venues across the city are transformed into luminous spaces filled with music and soft candlelight. Whether you’re a classical music aficionado or simply seeking a magical night out, these concerts are an unmissable part of Melbourne’s summer events calendar.

The Candlelight Concerts feature a diverse range of musical performances. This summer you can see everything from a Tribute to Taylor Swift, Mozart’s Requiem, the Best of Pink Floyd (I’m excited to have tickets to this one!) and a Tribute to Coldplay.

Check out the full list of Melbourne Candelight Concerts online here, or buy a gift certificate.

4. Check out the epic new Titanic exhibition

This summer, step back in time and experience the grandeur and tragedy of the Titanic through its latest exhibition.

Opening on 16 December, Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition takes visitors on a journey into the heart of this iconic ship’s story. Collect your boarding pass and explore a rich collection of artefacts recovered from the Titanic’s wreckage, all backed by poignant, human stories.

The exhibition is designed to immerse you in the Titanic’s world, from its ambitious inception to its fateful maiden voyage. Walk through the recreated cabins and hallways – including the Grand Staircase – and touch an iceberg that’s the same temperature of the freezing waters of the ocean that fateful evening.

Image: Melbourne Museum

5. Enjoy picnic-perfect weather

With so many beautiful gardens and parks across the city, Melbourne is a great place to enjoy a picnic. Gather up some cheeses and meats, a few sandwiches and maybe even a bottle of bubbles, and lay out a blanket on the lawns at the Royal Botanic Gardens or the Fitzroy Gardens.

Even better – solve a few clues and gather your picnic goodies on a Mystery Picnic Date. You’ll end up with a basket of gourmet goodness to enjoy in a mystery location. You can do the mystery picnics with a significant otheryour family or a group of friends. A Mystery Picnic Melbourne is a fun way to see the city without having to plan a thing.

6. Explore Melbourne’s laneways

It’s not news to anyone that Melbourne has some of the best laneways and laneway art in the world. 

Spend a day outdoors, weaving through the laneways and checking out the ever-evolving street art.

There are also Melbourne street art tours led by street artists who will show you hidden art that you’d never find yourself.

7. Stay cool inside a museum

On those sweltering Melbourne summer days, there’s nothing better to do than head straight indoors to one of the city’s incredible museums. Even if you’re not a museum buff, you’ll be happy to escape the heat – and see some great art or exhibits.

Some of my favourite Melbourne museums that I always tell visitors to check out are:

  • NGV International – incredible blockbuster exhibitions as well as an array of permanent displays
  • Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia – discover some of Australia’s best artists
  • Melbourne Museum – a fun, interactive museum that’s great for everyone, with dinosaur exhibits, First Nations displays and plenty more
  • Immigration Museum – learn about Australia’s immigrant past and present
  • ACMI – play video games, watch movies and create your own epic playlist at this entertaining museum
  • Scienceworks – from storytelling for the little ones to nerding out in the Lightning Room, Scienceworks is a lot of fun for all
  • Australian Music Vault – a celebration of Australian music legends

I also recommend visiting the Melbourne Museum to escape the heat – wandering through the Milarri Garden Walk and the forest garden are both enlightening and cool.

The Milarri Garden Walk at Melbourne Museum

8. Check out the NGV Triennial

I’m calling out the NGV specifically here because it’s always worth a visit – no matter what the season of year.

This summer, be amazed by the third NGV Triennial, which will take over all floors of the NGV International. More than 100 artists and designers’ works will feature – including works from Yoko Ono, British artist David Shrigley and Polish artist Agnieszka Pilat.

Wander through a 100-metre-long woven fish fence that took 10 artists from Arnhem Land two years to make, and see Boston Dynamics robot dogs paint a creation over four months.

One of the incredible installations I caught on its opening day is (This is) Air which uses air as a building material. The sphere structure is this year’s Architecture Commission, and it will morph and change throughout the day.

The event is completely free and opens on 3 December. More information can be found on the NGV website.

(This is) Air – one of the exhibits that’s featured in this year’s NGV Triennial

9. Catch a flick outdoors

As soon as the weather warms up, join the crowds flocking to parks and gardens to enjoy a movie outdoors. And with plenty of options, you shouldn’t have too much trouble nabbing a ticket. 

A few places to see a film outdoors this summer in Melbourne include:

Grab some popcorn and a drink and enjoy the fresh air as you watch the latest movies.

10. See a free concert

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has put on free concerts at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl for more than 90 years.

These are some of the most popular summer experiences in Melbourne. Tickets are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. The free concerts in 2024 are 21 February, 24 February and 28 February. More info online about each of the concerts.

11. Groove at an outdoor gig

As well as the free concerts at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, there’s also the chance to catch big name acts this summer. The line-up includes The Teskey Brothers, The War on Drugs, Brent Faiyaz, Noah Kahan, Queens of the Stone Age, The National and more.

Tickets and information online.

12. Boat down the Yarra

Allowing people to captain their own boats down the river could be a foolhardy business model – but it sure is a lot of fun!

In the past few years, a couple of companies have popped up allowing people to self-drive their own electric boat down the Yarra River. GoBoat and On A Boat are the two companies currently offering the chance to motor down the river. 

You can BYO your own picnic food and drinks, and hand over the reins (rudder?) to a member of your group while the rest of you enjoy the view.

Even more fun is Aqua Donut – round, electric boats with a built-in gas BBQ, LED lights and sound system. It’s a party on the river.

BYO captain’s hat!

GoBoat is a fun thing to do in Melbourne in summar
Friends and I motoring down the Yarra River – watch out for the rowers, though!

13. See amazing views of Melbourne

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

The Royal Exhibition Building’s Dome is now available to tour with a guide, with incredible views over Melbourne’s skyline. The tour includes an overview of the history of the building.

Tickets are available throughout the summer months. Book tickets online.

Courtesy of Museums Victoria

14. Explore an immersive digital gallery

I mentioned this incredible exhibition in my Melbourne in spring post, but it’s so worth mentioning again. 

Instead of simply looking at art on walls, at The Lume you’re actually immersed in the art. The digital gallery is enhanced with sound and aromas, creating a true sensory experience.

Come wander through the Lume’s latest exhibition, Connection, a stunning celebration of First Nations art and culture.

Sessions run daily, from 10am on weekdays and from 9am on weekends, with prices starting at $39 for adults. Tickets are available online from Ticketmaster. Book online here.

Photo courtesy of The Lume

15. Go surfing

I’ve tried surfing in my life – but I am always (unnecessarily) petrified by sharks. Luckily, there are no sharks at URBNSURF, Melbourne’s first surf park. In a controlled environment, you can learn to surf – or more experienced surfers can hit up The Point.

Don’t feel like surfing? You can also body-board, soak in the hot tubs or have a swim in the calm waters of the Lagoon. Plus, there’s Three Blue Ducks, the delicious restaurant run by several award-winning chefs.

Try your hand at surfing in Melbourne - and stay cool in the heat! URBNSURF is a new urban surfing park in Melbourne

16. Sip a cocktail by the river

Sip a cool cocktail by the river – or even right on the river at one of Melbourne’s many riverside bars.

Tucked under Fed Square, Riverland is an all-day beer garden with prime river frontage. Arbory Bar & Eatery stretches 100 metres along the riverfront – and its sister bar, Arbory Afloat, is a pop-up floating bar that’ll have you thinking you’re spending summer in Mexico.

Ponyfish is a classic spot – sitting smack bang in the middle of the river. It’s small but mighty, serving up great cocktails and snacks.

Check out on one of the riverside bars to stay cool during Melbourne in summer

17. Hit the beach

I need to say it up front – we don’t have the beautiful beaches of Sydney or the Gold Coast. But if you need to cool off, Melbourne does have some beaches that are good for a paddle.

Brighton Beach has the famous colourful bathing boxes, and has calm waters – although the waves can come in when the weather gets a little wild. 

St Kilda Beach is probably Melbourne’s most famous beach. With barely a wave to be seen, it’s popular with swimmers and kiteboarders. As soon as the weather starts warming up, the beach packs out, so come early to grab a spot for your towel.

Half Moon Bay is a little further out of the city, but more secluded. The crescent-shaped bay is a great spot for swimming.

While Melbourne's beaches don't rival those of Sydney or Queensland, they are a great place to catch some sun during the Melbourne summer months

18. Show your pride at Midsumma Festival

Midsumma is Melbourne’s premier queer arts festival, and over three weeks (from 21 January to 11 February) you can enjoy theatre, cabaret, film, public forums and social events. 

Opening the event on 21 January is Midsumma Carnival, with drag shows, the popular dog show, and food and drinks.

Sunday 4 February heralds Pride March, a colourful celebration that brings together around 50,000 people in St Kilda.

On Sunday 11 February, Gertrude and Smith Streets will be transformed into an extravagant street party. 

Check out the full program online.

19. Cool down with some ice cream

I’ll eat ice cream no matter the weather, but in summer that icy cold treat tastes even more delicious. 

Some of the best ice cream in Melbourne can be found at Pidapipó, Gelato Messina and Piccolina.

Ice cream is one way to cool down during the Melbourne summer months!

20. Head to the theatre

There’s always something to see at any one of Melbourne’s amazing theatres – and this summer is no exception. Escape the heat for some indoor entertainment.

Her Majesty’s Theatre is where you can see blockbusters like Miss Saigon (until 16 December) and Grease the Musical from 31 December.

Mamma Mia! The Musical is at the Princess Theatre until 10 December, before Groundhog Day the Musical heads into town from 24 January.

Moulin Rouge is playing at The Regent Theatre until 4 February.

21. Celebrate Lunar New Year

It’s the Year of the Dragon, and Chinatown will come alive with traditional lion dances, music and food to celebrate Lunar New Year. It’s an event not to be missed.

The Dragon Festival will be held in Chinatown on Sunday 11 February. More details online here.

22. Enjoy St Kilda Festival

St Kilda always has a festive vibe, so it’s no surprise that it’s hosted one of the city’s most beloved festivals for more than 40 years. St Kilda Festival is a celebration of community, summer and live music, and from 17-18 February you’ll find plenty of all this there.

The festival line up is still being developed, so sign up for updates on the website.

23. Eat your way through the Summer Night Market

Queen Vic Market’s Summer Night Market are one of Melbourne’s best traditions. In the warm summer evenings, enjoy an extravaganza of delicious food, entertainment and locally made goods.

Entry is free, and the market runs from 5 to 10pm each Wednesday evening. The Night Market runs from 22 November to 13 March (excluding 27 December).

24. Hit up a rooftop bar

At any hint of good weather, Melburnians head for the rooftop. Rooftop bars to be more specific.

Check out the views and brews at the best Melbourne rooftop bars, including Rooftop, Fable Melbourne, Palmz Rooftop Bar, Johnny’s Green Room and Loop Bar.

25. Chill out in an IceBar

If it’s realllyyy hot outside, then one way to cool down quickly is to duck into IceBar Melbourne.

Located in Fed Square’s Atrium, it’s very, very chilly inside. You’ll be given gloves and a snow cape – and Ugg boots if you don’t have enclosed shoes.

Grab a drink and explore the (small) bar made of ice – the whole bar area is carved out of 30 tonnes of dry ice! There are games and photo screens to capture your experience. The staff are really friendly, and regularly pop around to guests for a chat.

It’s not one of the cheapest things to do in Melbourne, but it’s definitely a way to beat the heat!

Book tickets for IceBar Melbourne here.

A sneaky pic of my cocktail in an ice glass (you’re not supposed to take photos inside!)

26. Splash around at a water park

Nothing says summer like a water slide, and luckily we have a few in and around Melbourne where you can escape the heat.

The biggest water theme park can be found in Geelong. Adventure Park has water splash zones, the Aqua Racer and the thrilling sounding Tsunami and Tornado. You can rent a cabana or sunbed to chill out on, and there are also plenty of rides that don’t come with water.

Gumbuya World is another huge theme park with water slides, a wave pool and a lazy river. It’s a 50-minute drive from the CBD.

An aerial view of the one of the rides at Adventure Park, Geelong

27. Eat outdoors

Eat your way through Melbourne’s outdoor foodie playgrounds.

Grazeland in Spotswood is open Friday to Sunday. There are DOZENS of food trucks serving everything from Korean twist potatoes to African BBQ to burgers and fairy floss. There’s always live music every weekend and kid-friendly activities like face painting.

Over in the north, Welcome to Thornbury is food truck heaven, with seating for 1,500 people. Make your way through the food stalls, hang out in the beer garden and try your luck on the retro arcade games.

Welcome to Thornbury

28. Catch Christina Aguilera – and plenty of other acts at ALWAYS LIVE

ALWAYS LIVE is back, with 17 days of live music across the state. Find out What a Girl Wants when Christina Aguilera hits Flemington Racecourse on 25 November.

And the great thing is that not all gigs are in Melbourne – catch Aussie faves Tones and I, Amyl and the Sniffers, Emma Donovan and Peter Garrett and The Alter Egos at venues across Victoria.

The festival is the biggest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It kicks off on 24 November – check out the full program here.


Final thoughts about summer in Melbourne

If you’re heading to Melbourne in summer, there’s so much to see and do here. With plenty of outdoor activities, bars, restaurants, festivals and events – plus many ways to escape the heat indoors – summer is a great time to visit Melbourne and see the city in all its splendour.

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I’m Rebecca, a Melbourne local excited to show you the best of Melbourne. I've visited more than 40 countries and have a Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management. 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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