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Published December 30th 2017
The Best Things in Life are Free
Fireworks at Docklands (by Australia Day)
The New Year in Melbourne is a triple treat of free fun, with the school holidays, the Australian Open and Australia Day. Enjoy Melbourne's summer season of free events, activities, music, workshops and fun. Revel in the best of Free Melbourne with this list of January's free events and activities.
Australia Day at Docklands - 26 January, 6pm to 9.30pm
Finish your Australia Day festivities with 9pm fireworks, watching the show at Docklands with over 15,000 people. Arrive early to feast at the food stalls, listen to live music from street performers and mingle with our newest Aussie citizens. Visit the Australia Day website for details.
Latin Summer Festival - 5 - 7 January
In the Royal Botanic Gardens, experience the best of Latin American culture without the jetlag. During this three-day festival, be swept up in the energy of the carnival atmosphere, with lively dancers showing off their samba, tango and salsa steps. Listen to acoustic hits from the live bands and DJs, and practise your Spanish with subtitled films at the outdoor cinema. Before sampling South America's best sweet and savoury street food, browse for handmade art and homewares as your children make maracas in the workshop. Visit the Melbourne Latin Summer Festival website for details.
The Pool: An Exhibition - throughout January
We love our pools and this exhibition, premiering in Australia at the National Gallery of Victoria, invites us to reflect on this love while dipping our toes in the water. The interactive space features themed lanes exploring the many facets of our obsession with the pool, with audio soundbites from Olympic swimmers, writers, a musician, environmentalist and fashion designer. Visit the National Gallery of Victoria website for details.
Mexican Fiesta - from 5 January, noon till late
Mexico comes to Melbourne in January with this free festival at the Boatbuilders Yard at 23 South Wharf Promenade. Find the action by following the sounds of a Mariachi band, then watch the acrobatics of masked Mexican wrestlers. Keep cool with icy Coronas, or heat up with spicy tacos and burritos. Arriba Arriba Andale Arriba! Visit the Boatbuilders Yard website for details.
Outdoor Cinema - 26 January, 7pm
Pull out the picnic blanket for a night of cinema with the family, beneath the stars at Buluk Park on Collins St, Docklands. Celebrate Australia Day with the feel-good classic, Strictly Ballroom. The fun continues on 2 February with Ethel & Ernest, the Melbourne International Film Festival fan favourite of 2017, and The Karate Kid on 9 February. Visit the Victoria Harbour website for details, or book tickets at Eventbrite .
Experiment with science (by the North Melbourne Library)
Sunday Morning Sport - 21, 28 January, 8am to 9am
Earn an appetite at Boyd Summer Park on City Rd in Southbank with an hour of organised family-friendly sport. During the guided sessions, the outdoor games blend exercise and healthy competition, finishing just in time for brunch in the sun. Visit the Eventbrite website for details.
Australian Open Festival - 15 - 28 January
As the tennis fans inside the stadium watch the action in silence, you can enjoy the party atmosphere at Birrarung Marr Park on Batman Ave, with no umpires to order, "Quiet, please". As the tennis is broadcast on giant screens, DJs will keep the crowd moving, as hungry visitors browse the food stalls, offering fish and chips, Asian street-eats, kebabs, and doughnuts. Visit the AO Festival website for details.
Fizzle And Pop Science Show - 25 January, 2pm to 3pm
In the North Melbourne Library on 66 Errol St, the science erupts from the page with an interactive science show which won't set off the smoke alarm. Created for children aged 5 - 12, the hour-long session will demonstrate the power of physics, chemistry and biology to create colourful reactions without making a mess (hopefully). Visit the Eventbrite website to book.
Chinese Art Workshop - 16, 23, 30 January, 11am to 12.30pm
At the Fo Guang Yuan Melbourne Art Gallery on 141 Queen St, practise the ancient Chinese arts of calligraphy and painting. With all materials provided, you'll write Christmas greetings with delicate brushstrokes on red paper during the calligraphy session on the 16th and 23rd. On the 30th, allow the brush to glide across the rice paper as you paint traditional Chinese landscapes, lined with bamboo and rocks, during the watercolour painting session. Visit the Google Docs to book.
Edible Gardening Workshop - 20 January, 12pm to 2pm
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is very satisfying but apartment living limits your gardening options. During this workshop at the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre on 251 Faraday St, Carlton, you'll learn to grow productive veg, fruit and herb plants in small spaces, including balconies and window sills. Visit the Eventbrite website to book.
Play pop up pianos (by Arts Centre Melbourne)
Volvo Ocean Race - until 2 January
The Sydney to Hobart is a short pleasure cruise compared with this ultimate sailing adventure. Returning to Melbourne's Harbour Esplanade for the first time in a decade, this round-the-world ocean race began in Spain, and after skirting past Cape Town, will arrive in Melbourne, destined for Hong Kong. Soak up the atmosphere in Docklands with interactive entertainment, pop-up stalls and sailcraft activities. Visit the Volvo Ocean Race website for details.
City Walking Tour - daily, 11am to 1.30pm
Whether you're new to Australia's sporting and cultural capital or you're a seasoned local, you'll discover new treats on this walking tour beginning at Gordon Reserve on Spring St. As you wander through hidden laneways to reveal the history of our city's landmarks, you'll find the best cafes for coffee, giggle at tourists trying their first hook turns and debate the legacy of Ned Kelly on a 'short' visit to Old Melbourne Gaol. Visit the Walks 101 website for details.
Ink in the Blood - daily
Decades before digital disruption caused the printing press to slow, our city's newspapers told the daily story of life in Melbourne, recorded by an empire of writers, editors, printers and street sellers. Ponder the world of old school publishing with this photographic exhibition at the City Gallery in Melbourne Town Hall. Visit the City Gallery website for details.
Seed and Plant Swap - 20 January, 10am
Once you've plucked fresh herbs, from rosemary and mint, to basil and parsley, from your mini-garden on the window sill, you'll be keen to add more flavours at this swap meet in the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre on Faraday St, Carlton. Bring plants, seeds and worms to swap with other home gardeners, sharing success stories and tips over coffee. Visit the Seed and Plant Swap website for details.
Myer Christmas Animated Windows - until 4 January
As families throughout Melbourne rack up their electricity bills to install the ultimate Christmas light displays, journey with the characters of Christmas in the window displays at Myer on Bourke St. In 2017, watch as an elf explores magical scenes, returning home to his family to celebrate his adventure. Visit the Myer website for details.
Michaels Camera Museum - throughout January
A picture is worth a thousand words and since the sale of the first Kodak camera in 1888, we've captured those special moments with photographs. Michaels Camera Video & Digital on 269 Elizabeth St contains the world's largest collection of these mechanical marvels, from Polaroid and digital to spy, military and space cameras. Amongst over 10,000 cameras, highlights include NASA's Hasselblad Space Camera, military Zeiss cameras and our earliest digital contraptions. Visit the Michaels Camera Museum website for details.
Looking for more free fun in Melbourne? Check out part 2 here.
Have we missed your favourite free activity in January 2018? Please let us know with a comment.