January is a financial downer: You're still recovering from the burden of Christmas presents, and that $300 a pop ticket to your New Years bash - let alone all the bills that seem to suddenly appear on January 5... But don't worry Listers, we have your back.
Here is our list of the 20 best FREE things to do in Melbourne this February.
#1 - Lunar New Year: Year of the Monkey
If you haven’t visited a library since the last Year of the Monkey in 2004, it’s time to step up your game. East Melbourne Library will welcome the lunar new year with free dim sum, tea tastings and Chinese-focused festivities. From 10am-2pm on February 20.
#2 - Crab Lab
Scuttle down to Crab Lab for free comedy every Wednesday this February. This weekly showbag of lolz has featured some of Melbourne’s funniest people: we’re talking Arj Barker, Frank Woodley, Lawrence Mooney, Celia Pacquola, Hannah Gadsby, Fiona O'Loughlin and Dave Thornton. From 7.30pm-10.30pm.
#3 - White Night
This one is a no-brainer: the White Night program is officially out, and it’s crammed full of gloriously free and freaky events spaced across one neon-lit night. We recommend forging a solid battle plan before you go in to combat the crowds. From 7pm-7am on February 20.
# 4 - 29th Lonsdale St Greek Festival
Check out Melbourne’s biggest Greek street party. With over 60 food, drink and craft stalls where we’re sure you can pick up a sample or two for free, there’s plenty to see. It takes place the weekend of February 27-28.
#5 - Dominoes
Before a certain pizza chain got notorious, a small black-and-white play-thing was a household name. Watch hundreds of volunteers line up thousands of dominoes – across laneways, over bridges and through arcades – before knocking them all down. Will they fall in a straight line? Find out between 5pm-6pm on February 6.
#6 - Grow Show
Cultivate your green thumb at the free lunchtime Grow Show pop-up talks on gardening at Town Hall on February 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18. Part of the Sustainable Living Festival, they’ll cover small space gardening, fruit tree care and veggie patch basics. From 1pm-2pm.
#7 - Never Cheer Before You Know Who's Winning
Play trivia and win shit at Revolver Upstairs. This weekly quiz-fest involves five rounds of Topic Thunder, Naked Mooofies, Useless/Useful Information, Songlines and Song Snippets, plus a themed round where you can win CDs, DVDs, event passes, film passes and meal tickets. It’s on every Tuesday from 7.30pm-9.30pm.
#8 - After Russell Brand: Making Democracy Work Better for You
The world started getting a little Russell Brand-ed out after he wrote that long-winded, preachy book called Revolution, and kept trying to mash up political insurgence with yogic meditation. But some of his principles were good - so why not check out this free public panel on how to regain power and influence over political decisions? From 6pm-7.30pm on Februrary 17 at Federation Square.
#9 - Carlton Baths' 100th Birthday Party
Splash around in the newly developed pool at Carlton Baths’ 100th birthday bash – there’ll be face painting, giant inflatables, a petting zoo, live bands and a sausage sizzle. OMG, a petting zoo?! From 10am-3pm on February 13.
#10 - Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
Even though it doesn’t have a water wall, the ACCA is still an awesome gallery to visit. All the exhibitions are free and feature sculpture, video, installation, photography, print and paint. It’s open Tuesday to Friday from 10am-5pm and 12pm-5pm on weekends.
#11 - Millionaire Hot Seat
Want to go big, rich and cheesy? Sign up to be part of the live studio audience at the February taping of Australia’s favourite game show, Millionaire Hot Seat. Cash prizes, free snacks and the chance to see Eddie McGuire’s hair in person? Priceless.
#12 - Second Tuesday Reading Circle
Embrace your love of reading and meet fellow bookworms at the February meeting of this open monthly reading circle. Unlike a book club, which sets a specific book for discussion, a reading circle revolves around whatever people happen to have read recently or books that have changed them. From 6pm-7pm on February 9.
#13 - Iconic Melbourne - Past and Present
Featuring hand-drawn illustrations of local landmarks linked to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and inquisitive community, the fascinating exhibition Iconic Melbourne celebrates our common history past and present. It’s in its final weeks so catch it before it closes on February 6.
#14 - First Friday Dance Club
Shimmy down to City Square to learn the best of Bollywood’s dance moves and catch a few performances from Jhoom Bollywood. There’ll be free lessons, loads of colour and lots of lo-fi social dancing. From 6pm-7.30pm on February 5.
#15 - Walk to Art Tour
Experience something at Melbourne Central other than shopping, with art consultant Bernadette Alibrando’s free Walk to Art Tour. It’ll introduce you to the stories behind the murals, sculptures, installations and street art pieces located around the shopping complex, and make you that annoying, in-the-know local who can explain to out-of-towners what the floating Hamish Munro sculpture means. From 3pm-4pm on February 14.
#16 - Crafternoon
Join the Melbourne Origami Group at their monthly meet-up to work on your craft project or start a new one. Basic paper and light refreshments are provided, plus you’ll get pro tips and techniques for paper folding. Runs on the last Saturday of every month from noon to 2pm.
#17 - Docklands History Group
Rediscover your inner history nerd, discuss big ideas and travel back in time with like-minded people at this monthly meet-up. There are often local historians and guest speakers in attendance and you’ll definitely learn a thing or two. From 6pm-7pm on 25 Feb.
#18 - Living in the 70s
Forget the 80s, come and re-live what life was like living in the 70s at Magnet Galleries’ photography exhibition. Dress for the occasion in your best pair of high-waisted flares and polyester shirt. Runs til February 14.
#19 - The Docks: Melbourne's Cultural Underground of the 90s
Yep, this massive exhibition celebrating the raver culture of the 90s is still on, still free, and still fantastic. Discover the secret history of Melbourne’s electronic music scene and learn about its somewhat sketchy innovators. Until February 28.
#20 - Watch grass grow
Seriously, it’s free! We recommend the beer-flavoured stuff at Edinburgh Gardens.
Image credit: White Night Melbourne