Art & Design

18 Free Things To Do In Melbourne This April

By Julia Hammond
3rd Apr 2017

It’s hard to get out of bed and have fun when the weather starts to dip below balmy and your beach bod disappears under a human-size pile of Easter chocolate. Put down the hot cross buns and step away from the Cadbury, people. We’ve got a list of things just interesting enough to pull you out of your cosy doona cave, and best of all they’re FREE!

#1 Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day

Wipe your calendar on Tuesday 4 April: you have ice cream to find. Ben & Jerry’s outlets around Melbourne will be serving free cones from 12pm-8pm. It’s one per person at every store, but seriously how many do you think you can get around to in 8 hours? Push yourself. With Chapel St, Chadstone, Highpoint, the CBD and other stores on board you can binge like never before.

#2 BYO Vinyl Night

When records came back in style people thought it would never last. And yet, here we are telling you all about the best place to share your newly purchased vintage collection. Got a stack of records collecting dust and no player? Or just want to share your epic tunes? Take them along to a BYO Vinyl Night at the Melbourne Record Club on Thursday 6 April between 7-10pm and spin a retro DJ set. 

#3 Boho Luxe Market

Melbourne is a city that rarely misses a beat, but it’s safe to say boho chic isn’t its strong suit. In an effort to bring the boho vibes of Byron Bay down south, the Boho Luxe Market will be held on Sunday 9 April. Head over to the Atrium and Deakin Edge in Fed Square from 10am-5pm for free workshops on wellbeing and interior decorating, live music and boho wares galore.

#4 Pentridge Prison

Twenty years since it closed down, Pentridge Prison is due for a revival—no crime necessary for admission. Spend the second weekend in April behind bars at a two-day community festival. From 12pm-10pm Saturday and 12pm-7pm on Sunday, you’ll get to see the transformation of this former lock-up into Coburg’s newest cultural precinct, full of local music, food and drinks.

#5 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival

We all know Melbourne is a foodie paradise, but we hold the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival to prove it to other people. And it wouldn’t be very inclusive if there weren’t a few free activities we could use to show off. Love fusion food? Check out the South East Asia Festival on Saturday 8 April from 11am. Share in the culinary and cultural heritage of some of our closest geographical pals. Meat lovers can jump for joy as Carnecopia promises an afternoon of BBQ appreciation from 12-5pm on Sunday 9 April. Get around it, carnivores.

#6 Convict In The Family

I am, you are, we are Australian. But before we were united in song, we were united in crime. Most Aussies these days are here because at some point a long time ago their ancestors did something pretty sketchy. It’s a matter of family pride. Explore the history of convicts with a photography exhibit linking descendants with representations of their ancestor’s crimes. Running until April 30th at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum in Lilydale.

#7 Very Big Laugh Out

It’s that time of year again. The time where you suddenly become an expert on comedians you’ve never heard of and you can’t pass the Town Hall without being mobbed by flyer-carrying comics. Don’t fall for it Listers, there’s plenty of free comedy to keep you entertained. Check out the Very Big Laugh Out for an array of comedy, circus, clowning and acrobatics galore. They’re running free 45 or 90-minute shows until 23rd April and you can find the full schedule here.

#8 Art & Climate = Change

It doesn’t matter how many politicians promise you climate change is a myth, we all know Al Gore is the only one to be trusted. Beginning on 19 April, the Art & Climate = Change event aims to use art to inspire everyone to join the environmental conversation. Through a series of exhibitions, keynote lectures and public programs they’ll be posing the question—can we use the power of art to make a difference? The only way to find that answer is to follow their creative lead to a sustainable future. Subscribe here for festival updates and the upcoming program of events.

#9 Multi-Tasking Plants

It’s hard to imagine a time before superfoods, but we’re here to let you in on a secret: there’s more to greenery than meets the eye, even if it hasn’t been picked, packaged and had a diet named after it. The Sunbury community garden is hosting a free workshop on the many uses for your plants. Spend a morning in the sun on 29 April and find out which ones are medicinal, best for cleaning or provide habitats for native animals.

#10 Raw Sundays

Is there anything more Melbourne than a converted warehouse? Maybe a converted warehouse full of live music, craft beers and Spanish paella. Make a note of the ultimate Sunday sesh on 23rd April at Raw Sundays in Footscray. From 11am-6pm do the Footscray shuffle while enjoying Victorian craft beers and tasty snacks that’ll have you wondering why on earth you used to pay to have fun.

#11 Salsa Dancing

In the eternal struggle to dance like Shakira we’ve found a way to leap ahead of the rest. If you’re on tonight and your hips don’t lie then you NEED free salsa. Master the Salsa basics for free at Basco Spanish bar in Brunswick every Wednesday evening from 6.30pm. Aimed at true beginners, they’ll have you doing turns, spins and twisting those hips in no time.

#12 Ginger Pride Rally

It’s official, Ed Sheeran has taken ginger mainstream. For the second year running, you can be a part of the Ginger Pride Rally on Saturday 29th April in the city. You don’t have to be a true ginger to march, just get yourself a wig or some hair dye. You can register from 9.30am and the march begins at 11am in a round trip from Fed Square. After spreading some ginger pride enjoy the finishing festival with free ginger beer, ‘ginger beer pong’, photo booths and ginger speed dating.

#13 A March To Art: Identity

For many the power of art lies in its ability to heal. In its inaugural exhibition, the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum is showcasing the role of art in rehabilitation. Featuring more than 15 artists across a range of media and art styles, the show explores the notions of identity for veterans and their community. Open 10am-5pm daily until Anzac Day at SPACE@Collins.

#14 Funky Bingo

If you’re a fan of Funky Bunch Trivia then you definitely need to hear about what else they’ve been up to. Every Monday night they’ll be taking bingo by the balls at the Grosvenor Hotel in St Kilda East. It’s the best way to cure Monday-itis with minimum effort (and even less skill).

#15 Yarra Valley Wedding Expo

Here comes the bride, all dressed in white, she’s looking for free samples and she came to the right place. From 10am-3pm on Sunday 9 April find everything you need for a dream wedding at the Yarra Valley Wedding Expo. We’re talking free samples, giveaways, makeup trials, canapes and an array of wedding industry professionals putting their wares on display. Plus, it’s a good opportunity to take in the scenery and consider a winery wedding… emphasis on the wine.

#16 Melbourne Film Festival Shorts

Ever wandering through Fed Square and ask yourself who left all these deckchairs and can I use one? This time you’re in the know. Every Thursday evening this April the Melbourne International Film Festival is putting on five local short films for free. All films have been approved for the little ones, plus the program includes a Tribeca Film nomination AND Claymation by Oscar-winner Adam Elliot.

#17 Love: Art of Emotion 1400-1800

There’s something about love. We love to be in it, hate to lose it and are afraid to live without it. Explore all things lovey dovey at the NGV’s newest free exhibit, Love: Art of Emotion 1400-1800. See love displayed in all its forms. Spy objects and artworks doused in envy, desire and affection, and build an understanding of what makes love our most intriguing emotion. Just think of all the classical art memes waiting to be made.

#18 Open Mic Night

Even though reality TV would have you believe otherwise, there are plenty of ways to showcase musical talents that don’t involve tragic backstories and a celebrity judging panel. Instead of watching The Voice on Wednesday nights, take your talents to the stage at an open mic night in Brunswick East. From 6-11pm each week you can book a spot for a 3-4 song performance, or just come along to support friends and strangers as they hit you with their best shot.

Stuck for ideas this week? Here's 5 Awesome Things to try in Melbourne.

Image credit: Melbourne Food & Wine Festival | Gareth Sobey

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