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Melbourne for Free in December

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by Lionel (subscribe)
Join me as I travel, play, eat, live and work in cities and places around the world.
Published November 30th 2014
Top Free Things to See and Do in December



Bid goodbye to the events of November and dive right into December where a plethora of festive goodies await. Apart from the Christmas activities, there are also other interesting distractions. Take a journey into Southeast Asia and China culture with new exhibitions and installations; visit the farmers and crafts markets to complete your festive shopping list; keep fit with exercises in Federation Square; chill out to outstanding jazz in the city; watch the New Year's Eve fireworks light up the skyline; and many more. Whichever event or activity suits your fancy, you'll find something for FREE in the world's most liveable city this December.

Southeast Asian Art at No Vacancy Gallery - till 7 Dec

Swimming in Sand; Growing Rice under an Umbrella
Photo courtesy of Anita Archer Fine Art


Anita Archer Fine Art, one of leading independent art consultancies in Australia, is showcasing a collection of ambitious projects from Southeast Asia's new generation of leading contemporary artists. Entitled 'Swimming in Sand; Growing Rice under an Umbrella', this FREE event features 8 artists from Southeast Asia. You can enjoy their works through an exhibition at the No Vacancy Gallery from 10am to 5.30pm daily, and daily screenings of video artworks and documentary footage at Federation Square's Big Screen. Check the Fed Square website for daily screening times and the organiser's website for more information.

Address: No Vacancy Gallery, 34-40 Jane Bell Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Markets around Melbourne - till 23 Dec

Gasworks Farmers' Market
Photo courtesy of Melbourne Farmers Markets


With Christmas just around the corner and plans for Christmas gifts and festive meals underway, there will be plenty of shopping to do. There are plenty of farmers and craft markets to visit to complete that Christmas list and fill the larder with fresh produce and gourmet treats for everyone. Here are some of the best markets around Melbourne to check out this month.

Christmas celebrations in Melbourne - till 5 Jan 2015



There are lots of festive activities and events happening in and around Melbourne this month. There are installations of snow white spheres in Fed Square, carols in Kew, Northcote and Hawthorn, festive food and craft markets, light and sound projects on Melbourne Town Hall, the annual Myers Christmas Windows, movie screenings in Boroondara, photo opportunities and letters to Santa and many more. To get you started, here are some FREE ways to enjoy Christmas for the whole family.

Groove Dance Class at Fed Square - 2, 9, 16 & 23 Dec

mizz fitness groove dance
Photo courtesy of Mizz Fitness


You might have done the salsa, swing and freestyle dancing but have you tried to blend them all together with zumba and African drumming? Federation Square invites everyone to check out its new Mizz Fitness! Groove Dance program. This is a FREE fitness program with movements that are easy for people of all ages to learn and practice. Head over to St Paul's Court between 6pm and 7pm to enjoy this simple, fun and interactive dance class. Check out the Fed Square website for more information on the sessions and the Mizz Fitness website to learn more about Groove Dance

Address: Corner Swanston St & Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000

China Up Close - 4 - 31 Dec

acmi china up close
Photo courtesy of ACMI


The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is presenting a new event that puts the spotlight on China and how the changes to its society is influencing Chinese moving image art and cinema. Entitled 'China Up Close', this special event offers a series of exhibitions, talks, live events and film.

You can enjoy a FREE talk about the the development of Chinese/Australian transnational co-production in 'Luring the Tiger from the Mountain' on 4 December at 5.30pm. The spectacular 'Yang Fudong: Filmscapes' exhibition will also open to the public on 4 December and entry is FREE. This is first exhibition of of China's pre-eminent moving-image artist, Yang Fudong in Australia.

You can also enjoy 'Wuxia on Screen', with the screening of Ang Lee's modern classic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), followed by a discussion with Chinese cinema expert Dr. Peter Gravestock on 14 December from 3pm to 6pm. Phone 03 8663 2583 or visit the website for more information and to reserve your FREE tickets.

Address: Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Corner Swanston St & Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Jazz at the Commune - 4, 11 & 18 Dec

the commune melbourne
Photo courtesy of The Commune


Chill out to jazz after work on Thursdays at The Commune Cafe with the John Montesante Quintet (JMQ) and guest performers from 6pm onwards. Together, they will bring timeless and bebpo styles of New York to you. JMQ is one of the most entertaining and versatile jazz combos in Melbourne and they will play with Samantha Morley on 4 December, Rebecca Mendoza on 11 December and Jacqueline Gawler on 18 December. Phone 03 9654 5477 or visit the website for more details.

Address: The Commune Cafe Bar, 2 Parliament Place, East Melbourne, VIC 3002

First Friday Dance Club - 5 Dec



Get your weekend to a fun start with a FREE dance class at Queensbridge Square from 6pm to 7.30pm on the first Friday of each month. Produced by the City of Melbourne's Arts and Participation program, the 'First Friday Dance Club' offers everyone an opportunity to learn a dance. Led by community and professional dance groups, the dances are suitable for all ages and no bookings are required. Simply turn up and enjoy dancing.

Address: Queensbridge Square, 1A Queens Bridge Street, Southbank, VIC 3006

Health Qigong at Fed Square - 5, 12 & 19 Dec

tai chi australia qigong class
Photo courtesy of Tai Chi Australia


Start your Fridays this month with FREE Qigong classes at Federation Square's The Atrium from 8am to 9am. These gentle exercises which combine physical movement and regulated breathing will help you strengthen your body and mind. Learn the ancient Chinese exercise of Qigong from Tai Chi Australia's expert instructors. All ages are welcomed and no bookings are required. Phone 03 9655 1900 or visit the website for more information.

Address: Corner Swanston St & Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Anatolian Festival 2014 - 6 Dec
Traditional Turkish Zeybek Folk Dancers
Photo courtesy of Istanbul Culture and Arts Centre

You don't have to travel to Istanbul to enjoy Anatolian culture and arts. Thanks to the Istanbul Culture and Arts Centre and the Melbourne International Business Association, you can visit the Anatolian Festival right here in Melbourne. This family event which attracts more than 70,000 visitors each year will showcase folk dances, whirling dervishes, oil wrestling, live art exhibitions, live performances from international and local artists, food stalls and even replicas of the Grand Bazaar, Ottoman and Seljuk gates of Turkey. Visit the website for more information.

Address: Waterfront City, 429 Docklands Drive, Docklands, Victoria 3008

Crochet Making at Fed Square - 8 Dec



The Atrium of Federation Square will host a FREE workshop for anyone who is interested to learn the old craft of crochet from 12pm to 2pm. This workshop is led by volunteers supporting the '5000 Poppies Project'. Join this community group as they make crocheted poppies for display at Federation Square on ANZAC Day 2015. Simply bring along your own 3.5 mm hook and some red yarn for poppy making. Visit the website for more information.

Address: Corner Swanston St & Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Belly Dancing at Fed Square - 11 Dec

Belly Dance with Trisnasari
Photo courtesy of Belly Dance with Trisnasar


Head over to Federation Square for some lunchtime belly dancing from 12.30pm to 1pm. Led by professional instructor Trisnasari, the gentle aerobic dance will get you shimmying and shaking in no time. All ages are welcomed and no bookings are required. Phone 03 9655 1900 or visit the website for more information.

Address: Federation Square, Corner Swanston & Flinders Streets, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Air Force Band Performance - 16 Dec



The Melbourne Town Hall will sound with the Christmas-tinged music of Australia's Air Force Band under music director Squadron Leader Mathew Shelley. From 1pm to 3pm, you can enjoy a FREE concert with favourites by Richard Strauss and Edward Elgar, works by Percy Grainger and Kenneth Alford, and even the world premiere of a commissioned work by Melbourne composer Stuart Greenbaum. Doors open at 12.30pm and no bookings are required. Phone 03 9658 9658 or visit the website for more information.

Address: Melbourne Town Hall, 100 Swanston Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Vinyl Lounge - 19 Dec
vinyl lounge mpavilion melbourne
Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's (NFSA) Vinyl Lounge at MPavilion is a unique event initiated by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation with support from City of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government. Enjoy music the way it was meant to be heard in the Vinyl Lounge from 6.30pm to 9.30pm with NFSA's sound gurus, Thorsten Kaeding and Graham McDonald. They will play rare and fascinating records from the national collection. MPavilion is located in the Queen Victoria Gardens, in the centre of the Southbank Arts Precinct. Phone 02 8202 0114 or visit the website to grab your FREE tickets.

Address: MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne, VIC 3004

Poetry at Fed Square - 20 Dec



Head over to The Atrium in Federation Square for an afternoon of FREE poetry, music and performance from 2pm to 4pm. You will hear works from a variety of readers including first time writers, published authors and bilingual translators, each reading up to 20 minutes. The public are also welcomed to share their words for 5 minutes during the open mic session. Phone 03 9655 1900 or visit the website for more information.

Address: Corner Swanston St & Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000

New Year's Eve Celebrations - 31 Dec



Don't fret if you're not in Sydney for the New Year Eve countdown this December because Melbourne has lots of festivities in store for you including music, live entertainment, activities for all ages and 2 dazzling fireworks displays. Highlights include the family friendly activities and early fireworks at Yarra Park between 6pm and 10pm. At the stroke of midnight, the rooftop fireworks display can be viewed from anywhere in the greater Melbourne area. Remember to hang around, see the city skyline and see the fireworks. Visit the City of Melbourne NYE website for full details.
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Why? Loads of free things to do and see in Melbourne this December
Where: Various venues around Melbourne
Cost: Free
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