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Top Major Events in March 2012

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by Debbie Lustig (subscribe)
My work has been published in The Age, The Herald-Sun, The Australian, The Big Issue, Australian Birdlife, The Bark (USA), Eureka Street, Overland and The Australian Jewish News.
Published February 20th 2012
Top Major Events in March 2012
Nothing's more Melbourne than a major event. And in their wisdom, our tourism chiefs plonked many of them into March. Why?

Maybe it's March's high probability of nice, autumn sunshine. Certainly, Melbourne in March offers something for everyone, from revheads to gardeners to comedy buffs.

Put these dates in your diary and make a booking for them all.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (2-21 March) has so many events, you'll be scratching your head trying to choose. Perhaps a cellar door and farm gate event? The World's Longest Lunch? Maybe 'Restaurant Express' is your style - only $35 for lunch at one of more than 60 participating restaurants. There are masterclasses, lectures and kids' cookery classes. Read the guide and let your mouth start watering.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival program

Venues: numerous. Prices: free to $240 for Gala Dinner.

The Mad Square

The Mad Square: Modernity in German Art 1910-37 highlights the intense period of experimentation in the German avant-garde that gave rise to art movements Expressionism, Dada, Constructivism and Bauhaus.

Why would you want to see a dark, chaotic exhibition? For one thing, it's fascinating and sexy. For another, the ideas of the Bauhaus school still influence interior design today. And thirdly, the work of these artists during and between wars helps us understand how people dealt with the tumultuous history they were living through. Much as we are now.

Closes March 4. NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Temporary Exhibition Space 1, 2 & 3, Level G.

Tickets: Adult $18, Concession $12, Child (aged 5-15) $9
Family (2 adults & 3 children) $45, NGV Member Adult $9
NGV Member Family $22.50

Student Offer: $10 student entry every Thursday (must have valid student card)
Unlimited Entry: Adult $45, Concession $30, NGV Member $22.50

L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival

Fashion is one of those things you either get or you just don't. If you're one of the former, there's no choice. You need Melbourne's annual dose of all things fabulous and frocky, the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, running 8-15 March.

This year, over 50 established and emerging designers will show their clothes in runway extravaganzas, seminars, forums and cultural events.

Women with unbelievable figures will model stunning outfits with unbelievable price tags. With Shop the Runway you'll be able to buy the said gear from your iPhone directly afterwards.
Dita von Teese - image Wikipedia

The highlight may be burlesque star Dita von Teese's presentation of her Von Follies lingerie collection, designed for Target.
Image LMFF

Or perhaps Grace Kelly: Style Icon is more your cup of tea. This is an exhibition of the Hollywood icon's glamorous wardrobe, showing at Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo.

Moomba Festival

It may not mean, 'Let's get together and have fun' as many once thought. But the word 'Moomba' is still synonymous with a good-time, family-friendly event over the Labor Day weekend.

This year's will have a new location in the Alexandra Gardens but promises plenty of old favourites as well. The 2012 Moomba Festival will have fireworks every night, the Birdman Rally, the Moomba Parade and the carnival of rides.
Moomba Parade image Moomba Festival 2012

The festival program, running 8-12 March, has live music including Tex Perkins, Daryl Braithwaite, Josh Pyke and the Victorian Opera. There's a specially composed work uniting African and Western classical music on closing night.

Other events include skateboarding, the kids' program and even trapeze lessons.

Moomba Masters waterskiing is a world-class event, attracting competitors to the Slalom, Giant Jump and Wakeboard, which combines waterskiing, snowboarding and surfing.
King & Queen of Moomba - image Moomba Festival

This year's King of Moomba is Harry Kewell. The Queen of Moomba is Natalie Bassingthwaite.

2012 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

The 2012 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix will be here any day. In fact, its website conveniently counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds remaining till Melbourne's noisiest car race goes off.

Image Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

This year, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is the official charity, so all that petrol and testosterone won't be expended for nothing. Organisers hope to raise awareness of the disease among motoring fans and raise a little money as well.

On the track, the fun starts on Thursday, March 15th and continues through to Sunday, March 18th. Expect to see Porsches, Formula Fords and V8 Supercars go around, as well as the horribly fast Formula 1 racing machines.

These cars have aerodynamic designs in common with jet airfighters and can accelerate from 0-160 km/h back to 0 in 4 seconds. Why? Because they can.
Image Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

Off-track events include a Kids' Corner, the V8 Village - complete with V8 simulator, freestyle motocross (dirt bike tricks) and ear-splitting flyovers by the RAAF Roulettes. Plus a music program, if your ears aren't too sore.
Image Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

Pretty girls in revealing outfits are guaranteed and you can bet one of the celebrity drivers will say something vaguely controversial.

Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show


In its 17th year, Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show will take landscape and floral design to new heights. There will be show gardens of every possible plant arranged in tableaux that vary from the sublimely peaceful to the busy.

Garden statuary, supplies, tools, seedlings and plants will be on sale and top garden experts will give regular talks.

Orchid - image Debbie Lustig

Competitions include 'show gardens', sustainable gardens, hanging baskets, and student landscaping.

In the Great Hall, all pretence of normality disappears as hundreds of exhibitors from florist shops and educational institutions vie to create memorable floral art. The weirder the better. One year, there was a floral tribute to IVF. In 2011, someone made an exhibit with a chainsaw and red gerberas.

Floristry students' display - image Debbie Lustig

You've just got to soak up the craziness, the beauty and the bad taste, and reserve judgement.

Image - Debbie Lustig

The fun starts 28 March and finishes 1 April. Show highlights are listed here. Tickets may be pre-purchased (highly recommended) through the RACV website or shops. There's a free shuttle bus from either Etihad Stadium or Victoria Harbour Car Park.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival

It's lucky the Melbourne International Comedy Festival comes around only once a year. Running from 28 March to 22 April, it requires exceptionally strong stomach muscles to deal with all the belly laughs.

With thousands of shows and hundreds of performers, the best way to choose a show is probably to throw the program in the air and see where it lands. The website does things differently, with 'Find a show' allowing you to choose from family-friendly, overseas or Australian acts.

Image Australian International Comedy Festival

Twenty-six years after Peter Cook and Barry Humphries launched it, Melbourne's Comedy Festival is now a big tourism drawcard and a hometown favourite.

In addition to stand-up, there's music, film, cabaret, visual arts and a festival club (with tickets priced at $10-15). One-off event The Great Debate is back, along with Class Clowns (youth comedy), Jeez Louise (women's comedy) and Opening Night, televised by Channel 10.

Cheaper tickets are available for concessions, preview shows, 'Tightarse Tuesdays' and group bookings.

You can also catch one of numerous free events, including The (Very) Big Laugh Out and Best Comics Worst Gigs at the Wheeler Centre.

Bookings can be made online or in person. Full program details available in the Herald-Sun newspaper and online, February 25.
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