With June’s arrival winter descends and this year it feels right on time. Each season holds its charms and a Melbourne winter is very much a diamond in the rough. The wind blows a gale and can chill to the bone; people rush up and down the city streets, cloaked in Brack’s black, shoulders hunched, dodging the slippery cobbles. Winter falls elegantly, the city twinkling through rain soaked evenings so that a 6pm walk to the train station is like walking through the stars.
During the day cups of Proud Mary, Axil and Seven Seeds warm cold hands and in the evenings the haloed street lamps light the way to the revelry writhing beneath. Melbourne is nothing short of vibrant in the warmer months, as you would expect any city to be, but in winter it truly comes alive.
June to August is the time for searching out old-school pubs with cosy open fires, mulled wine, and ghost stories. Trivia nights are the perfectly weekly pastime, a bit of competitiveness warms the blood! The clouds roll in, inciting our chefs to greater heights of creativity; there could there be no more suitable a dessert to consume this season than Café Lafayette’s Raindrop Cake unearthed by The Urban List.
Winter in Melbourne is by no means a quiet time, festivals abound: Federation Square is a hotbed of activity hosting a Winter Solstice Festival, a Winter Feast series, the River Rink and more; Prahran runs the sensational Glow Winter Arts Festival and we also have the Melbourne International Film Festival and Series Mania to keep us indoors and out of the rain. The Queen Vic Winter Night Market is on, South Melbourne is running Historical Tours and the Prahran Market is celebrating their recent renovations, including launch of new brasserie, Wilson & Market. Our whisky bars are in full swing, with Whisky and Alement, Starward, The Elysian and Boilermaker House offering events all through the season.
Outside the confines of our urban sprawl the Victorian landscape bursts with colour as the skies grow grey. The rolling hills and endless pastures of the Western District glisten damply green and beckon visitors to put on their gumboots and get tramping about. Stop a while at the Cavendish Bunyip Brewery & Distillery for a glass of the Elusive Puma Black Ale and a yarn on the story behind the name. In the north they get bookish annually with the Bendigo Writers Festival and given that a recent write up called Bendigo more ‘Melbourne’ than Melbourne it is worth spending a weekend or more in our sister city. In the east the roiling seas of 90 Mile Beach perform as masterfully as any orchestra. The gum trees tower above in the Nature Reserves, tree tops touching the rain first and then funnelling it below, drip by drip, a leaf at a time; koalas sheltering beneath the densest foliage. Unsurpassed in winter experiences is the drive to Mount Donna Buang; when the snow starts to fall don your boots, wrap the kids up as warmly as you can and hire a toboggan for the most fun you can have 90km from the city centre.
Below is a selection of events, eateries and activities that have caught our eye:
Winter Markets and Festivals
Federation Square Winter Feast Series, 1st June – 31st August
Queen Vic Winter Night Market, commencing 7th June
Wine & Wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary, 10-12th June
June Design Market at Federation Square, 11th June
LEGOLAND Adults Only Night, 22nd June
Winter Solstice Festival, 24th June
Docklands Firelight Festival, 30th June – 3rd July
Series Mania, 20-24th July
Underground Cinema – Kingdom, 20-30th July
Melbourne International Film Festival, 3-20 August
Glow, 10-20th August
Bendigo Writers Festival, 11-13th August
Winter Food, Travel and Activities
River Rink, CBD
Winter Carousel, CBD
Whisky and Alement, CBD
Starward, Port Melbourne
The Elysian, CBD
Boilermaker House, CBD
Bunyip Brewery & Distillery, Cavendish
Mount Donna Buang, Warburton
For more recommendations, keep an eye on A Melburnian Guide to Winter, updated every few weeks.