Art & Design

13 Free Things To Do In Melbourne This May

By Millie Lester
2nd May 2017


Put your hands in the air if you just don't care that you spent all your cash money on discount Easter eggs from Kmart last month. Fear not, for we have tracked down all the best-est and free-est events within our extremely expensive city to make paying rent this month just that little bit more feasible. 

Mindfulness For Study

Want to improve your learning, memory, attention and clarity of thought in time for exams? Head along to Kendall Allsop’s introduction to mindfulness and find out how to stop watching cat fail videos on YouTube forever. Like all good things in life, the session will be free, however booking is essential because if all of my undergrad group assignments are anything to go by, A LOT of students need help on their clarity of thought. For more info, head here.

When: 6pm Wednesday, May 31
Where: Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, Carlton

Urban Ideas Playground

It’s time to put down that Sara Lee Chocolate Bavarian and whip out the old frayed paintbrush you forgot to rinse last time, because a full week of thought-provoking discussions and playful workshops are coming to our city’s State Library for the Urban Ideas Playground this month. Daily themes include ‘Urban Living’, ‘The Body, ‘Food’ and ‘Future Work’. There are also workshops happening each evening from 5pm where you can bring your killer ideas to life with a range of supplied materials and tools that you didn’t steal from your neighbour’s hard rubbish pile.

When: May 2–6
Where: State Library Victoria

Docklands Harvest Festival

Head on over to Buluk Park in the Docklands this May for their new Harvest Festival. They’ve promised a host of hands-on activities (lantern making!), folk bands, delish food, gardening and more, plus the whole event concludes with the burning of a large-scale wooden sculpture, so if this isn’t paradise on earth, we don’t know what is.

When: 5pm–8pm Friday May 19 & 11am–4pm Saturday May 20
Where: Buluk Park, Docklands

Live Life Get Active

The City of Melbourne is back for another year of trying to delay the accelerating onset of ‘winter body’ with a plethora of free fitness classes within Melbourne. Held along the riverfront at Yarra’s Edge, the classes are popping up on weekdays throughout the remainder of the year and include hell exercise in the form of X-training, boxing and yoga classes. You can also sweet-talk your way into a tailored nutrition plan from one of their highly qualified trainers. Find out more about the sessions here.

When: 6:30–7:30am weekdays
Where: Park at Yarra’s Edge, Docklands

Melbourne Knowledge Week

Knowledge is its own reward, they say, especially if that knowledge is how to keep feeding the planet for the next hundred years or so. This year's Melbourne Knowledge Week is all about 'Know. Now. Next'—the steps we can take now to help shape a better future. One of these steps seems to be eating insects. There's a bunch of activities on, from the Urban Ideas Playground (you will get paint on your clothes) to The Zone at the State Library—a showcase of the country's best coders and hackers. Let's hope they teach us how to beat The Age pay wall...

When: 1 May–7 May
Where: Various locations around the city

Buddha’s Day & Multicultural Festival 2017

Fed Square is set to host yet another cultural festival this year, because apparently 37 isn’t enough. This time it’s the Buddha’s Day and Multicultural Festival, which is now in its whopping 22nd year. This major annual attraction commemorates the Buddha’s birthday while also celebrating the Melbourne’s multicultural and multi-faith society. Feast your eyes on traditional Buddhist ceremonies such as Bathing the Buddha, Tea Meditation, the Twilight Light Offering Ceremony and a host of multicultural music and dance numbers. You can also attend a lecture you won’t have to pay for in ten years when you start earning over $53,000, and even stop by their small petting zoo.

When: 10am–7:30pm Saturday May 20 & 10am–5pm Sunday May 21
Where: Federation Square

Millionaire Hot Seat

Ditch the couch this month and head over to the Docklands Studios Melbourne where you can be part of the Millionaire Hot Seat audience. Watch Eddie transform an average Joe into Toorak Road’s ritziest new developer (maybe). Entry is free, so are snacks and there are even cash prizes up for grabs. Head to the website now to book your seat. If you're both poor and smart, you could also try your hand at winning the mill...

When: 10am–5:30pm Mondays
Where: Docklands Studios Melbourne, Docklands Drive

International Festival Of Language & Culture

The IFLC is an annual celebration that takes place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre where you can treat yo’self to a range of linguistic talents from around the world. It's all to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion, and if that isn't the cutest thing you’ve ever heard then you’ve probably seen the video of the baby who is moved to tears whenever his mum sings. See for yourself what the living embodiment of respect, harmony and peace looks like through the universal language of art, dance and music.

When: 4–7pm, Sunday May 14
Where: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Wednesday Jazz At The Botanical

Get your jazz fix every Wednesday with a live show from the Orlando Combo (arguably Melbourne’s hardest working band) at the Botanical Hotel. This Melbourne music institution has been monopolising the Wednesday music scene for the last seven years, and the hotel itself has been churning out delicious fine food for yonks, so you can bet your bottom dollar a visit to The Botanical on a Wednesday evening will be worth your while (mostly because it’s free).

When: 6:30–9:30pm Wednesdays
Where: The Botanical Hotel, South Yarra

Marvelous Melbourne–It’s Heart And Soul

This art exhibition features 27 prominent Victorian artists who have captured our city’s uniqueness in a collection of paintings, drawings, prints and photographic works. It’ll have you removing ‘*artist*’ from the end of you Insta bio in a matter of minutes. The jaw-dropping work highlights Melbourne’s love of all things sport, nature, fashion, culture and matcha lattes, and is a great way to spend a cruisy Saturday afternoon.

When: All day, errday
Where: Hilton Melbourne South Wharf

Comedy At Spleen

Catch an evening of free comedy at the Spleen Bar on Bourke Street where you can cut laughs at some big name acts, or enjoy a chuckle with some promising up-and-comers. Past acts include Jimeoin, Wil Anderson, Adam Hills, Dave Hughes and Fiona O’Loughlin if that’s anything to go by…

When: 8:30–10:30pm Mondays
Where: Spleen Bar, Bourke Street

Board Game Club

Forget Fight Club, North Melbourne Library plays host to the most infamous night on the calendar. Every fortnight this book institution puts on the most glorious battles of scandalous trickery with its fortnightly Board Game Club. The event may be free, but is the PTSD from childhood Monopoly worth it?

When: 6–9pm, May 2, 16 & 30
Where: North Melbourne Library

Coffee Cupping

Learn the difference between a single origin brewed soy latte and a Nescafe Blend 43 strong black with a free coffee cupping session at Rumble Coffee Roasters in Kensington. On the last Friday afternoon of every month, you’ll be walked through the various flavour profiles of our lord and saviour: the coffee bean. This is a free event and a great excuse to head west this winter.

When: 3–4pm, Fridays
Where: 8 Thompson Street, Kensington

Want more free stuff? There's a bourbon and burger pop-up coming to the CBD.

Image credit: City of Melbourne, Melbourne Knowledge Week

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