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Published January 29th 2018
The best things in life are free
The White Knight Messenger in Melbourne (Source: White Night)
In February, we return to work and school but while holidays end, the feast of free activities continues. Enjoy February's treats as Melbourne celebrates the Chinese New Year and a stack of international festivals, from Japan and Vietnam to Brazil and Greece, with free events, activities, music, workshops and fun.
In Australia's most visited gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria on 180 St Kilda Rd, an exciting new exhibition features hundreds of artworks created by painters, sculptors, photographers, designers and weavers from 32 countries.
Allow plenty of time to explore this compelling collection, displayed across all 4 floors of the International Collection, immersing you in the themes of movement and change, virtual vs real, and time.
For an online introduction, browse the articles, podcasts and videos at the Triennial Voices website. Visit the NGV website for details.
White Night Melbourne - 17 February, 7pm to 7am
For one night only, Melbourne's landmarks come alive in a dazzling light show, while music, dance and film screenings are held throughout our CBD's parks, laneways and public spaces.
Highlights include the return of the White Knight Messenger, bringing peace from the future, with puppeteer-controlled wings stretching 6 metres, and the 'No Lights No Lycra' family-friendly dance party at Melbourne Museum. Visit the White Night website for details.
Greek Festival - 10, 11 February, 12pm till late
Melbourne is a second home for Greeks, hosting the largest Greek population of any city in the world outside of Greece. Discover what makes this fusion so special in a celebration of Greek culture at Lonsdale St.
Enjoy the live entertainment on three stages, street food, pop-up bars, children's activities and cooking demos. During the weekend, Cretan music will drift across the precinct as young and old master Greek dance moves, trying not to break too many plates.
If you've made the best baklava in Melbourne, enter the competition to become Melbourne's inaugural Baklava Master. Visit the Greek Centre website for details.
Digital Design Workshop - 21 February, 3pm to 6.30pm
Go beyond boring documents and learn the secrets of the Adobe suite of software to create beautifully designed digital publications, websites and multimedia presentations.
During this workshop, you'll experiment on a Mac, using a green screen, light box and tablet to meld audio and visual elements into content you can take home on your USB stick. Visit the Eventbrite website to book.
Discussion: Bigotry, Xenophobia and the Demise of Social Empathy - 6 February, 7pm to 10pm
Social media offers the real-time interactions, anywhere and anytime but this new form of communication has challenges, including cyberbullying, fake news and an echo chamber of opinions.
To tackle these issues, Joshua Krook, author of Legal Education, Privatisation and the Market: The Decline of Justice, Fairness and Morality in Australian Law Schools, will give a presentation and chair a Q&A session, hosted by the Existentialist Society at the Unitarian Hall, 110 Grey St, East Melbourne. Visit the Existentialist Melbourne website for details.
Victorian Mile Championship - February, 6pm to pm
After Roger Bannister was the first to run a mile in under 4 minutes, his record was quickly broken by an Aussie, John Landy. Herb Elliott slashed another 5 seconds from the record and it continued falling until 1999 when a Moroccan set the current record, 3:43.13.
On the Rawlinson Track at Parkville, cheer for Australia's best middle-distance runners as they race to be the first to break the record in the 21st century while competing for spots on our Commonwealth Games Athletics team. Visit the Melbourne University Athletics Club website for details.
Popular culture is filled with novels, television series and films set in a dystopian future. Pick up the classic that defined the genre, 1984 by George Orwell.
Discuss the characters, themes and terms that became prescient warnings at the City Library on 253 Flinders Lane. Visit the Classics Book Club website for details.
Yoga - Sunday 11th, 18th, 25th and Thursday 15th and 22nd, 9am
Start the morning with a salute to the sun in a yoga session in Boyd Summer Park, 207 City Rd, Southbank. Unfurl your yoga mat in an instructor-led series of yoga poses, including Warrior, Triangle, Downward Facing Dog and Plank, easing tension in mind and body. Visit the Thursday or Sunday Eventbrite website to book.
Chinese New Year Prosperity - 12 - 18 February, 12pm to 2pm
To celebrate the Year of the Dog, visit the Chinatown Precinct at Little Bourke St to receive well wishes from the Gods of Prosperity, Wisdom and Longevity as they roam amongst Melburnians, bringing gifts of free fortune cookies, sweets, and the secrets of eternity. Visit the Melbourne Chinese New Year website for details.
The Pool: An Exhibition - until 18 February
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 - until 24 February, noon till late
Mexico comes to Melbourne in February 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.
Pull out the picnic blanket for a night of cinema with the family, beneath the stars at Buluk Park on Collins St, Docklands. 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 .
Yoga Sessions in the Park (by Boyd Community Hub)
Sunday Morning Sport - 4, 11, 18, 25 February, 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.
Chinese Art Workshop - 6, 13 February, 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 paint elegant sparrows on the 6th and practise the rubbing technique with charcoal and pencils to create prints on the 13th. Visit the Google Docs to book.
Edible Gardening Workshop - 20 February, 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.
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 - until 17 February
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.
Michaels Camera Museum - throughout February
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 February 2018? Please let us know with a comment.