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Art, culture and couture in Melbourne

/ 24 Feb 2017
Home to Australia’s most visited public gallery, museum and library, and the only dedicated theatre precinct in the country, Melbourne attracts millions of visitors each year to its cultural institutions. This year, Dior, Van Gogh and Aardman will lead a stellar line up of arts events in Melbourne, cementing the city’s reputation as a number one destination for fashion, arts and culture.


Australia’s largest public fashion event, the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF, 1-19 March 2017) will return to the Royal Exhibition Building. The festival features Australia’s best established and emerging designers in runway shows, retail events and industry seminars. Fashion fiends will flock to the catwalks at VAMFF, and then again at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week in September.

Between the two festivals, however, there is arguably even more reason for fashionistas to visit Melbourne. In a coup for the city, The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture (27 August – 7 November 2017) is anticipated to attract fashion fans from near and far. A collaboration between the House of Dior and the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), the Melbourne-exclusive exhibition will celebrate 70 years of one of the world’s most influential fashion labels.

Melbourne Winter Masterpieces

As host of Melbourne Winter Masterpieces, the NGV will showcase Van Gogh and the Seasons (28 April – 9 July 2017). Art lovers are in for a treat with this collection of 40 paintings and 25 drawings on loan from art galleries around the world – exclusively showcased in Melbourne.

Animation enthusiasts will adore Wallace & Gromit and Friends: The magic of Aardman (29 June – 29 October 2017) – a new exhibition that will open at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), and is part of the 2017 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces. Celebrating 40 years of one of the world’s most successful animation studios, the exhibition will showcase the journey of Aardman’s characters – from concept drawings and storyboards, to the handmade puppets and sets.

Words – written and spoken

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF, 29 March – 23 April 2017) will return to Melbourne in March. Among the world’s top three comedy festivals (with Edinbugh and Montreal), MICF promises a laugh a minute with comedians from around the country and around the globe tearing into town for stand-up performances of all kinds.

From witty one-liners to novel-length prose, the Melbourne Writers Festival (25 August – 3 September 2017) returns, bringing with it a plethora of established and up and coming writers. Literary lovers keen on a roadtrip can head to Clunes Booktown Festival (6 – 7 May 2017), the Mildura Writers Festival (13 – 16 July 2017), and the Bendigo Writers Festival (11 – 13 July 2017).

Theatre and performance

On the stage, The Book of Mormon is already wowing audiences with its Australian premiere kicking off in Melbourne in January. Next month, Aladdin (from 21 April 2017) with its 37 performers, 337 costumes and 30 tonnes of ‘flying’ scenery will land at Her Majesty’s Theatre. My Fair Lady (from 12 May 2017) will bring a little propriety to town in a production directed by musical theatre icon Dame Julie Andrews, who was cast in the original Broadway production. Later in the year, The Bodyguard (August) the musical made famous by Whitney Houston, will also hit the stage.

The Arts Centre presents a brand-new event, Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (until April 2017) with Asian-focused performance and culture at the fore. In an Australian exclusive, Lord of the Flies (5-9 April 2017) will hit the stage and the Australian Ballet will present the Australian premiere of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (12-30 September 2017).

Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) and Malthouse Theatre have both kicked off impressive seasons, with MTC into its second production for the year, John (10 February – 25 March 2017) and Malthouse Theatre showcasing Beijing Director Wang Chongwith Little Emperors (9 – 26 February 2017).


Australia’s music capital plays host to the 12th Australian Music Prize on 9th March, 2017. As well as being held in Melbourne for the first time in 10 years, the shortlist of nominees all hail from Victoria and the event is open to the public. Melbourne boasts 465 live music venues and is home to some of the industry’s biggest music events each November: Melbourne Music Week, Face The Music and the Australasian World Music Expo.


Photography will be celebrated in a big way this year. The NGV Festival of Photography (March – August 2017) will feature a suite of contemporary photography exhibitions, including presentations by William Eggleston, Bill Henson, Patrick Pound, Zoë Croggon and Ross Coulter. In regional Victoria, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (19 August – 17 September 2017) will be bigger and better than ever this year. Events will take place at more than 80 venues throughout the city, all brought together by the festival’s new Creative Director, Fiona Sweet. Year round, photography fans can get their fix at the home of Australian photography, the Monash Gallery of Art, and the Centre for Contemporary Photography.

For a full list of Melbourne’s upcoming arts and culture events, click here.

This content can be shared and edited for the purpose of promoting Victoria as a visitor destination. Not for use in paid advertising. Please credit Visit Victoria.


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