Let’s be honest, we all planned to save more money in the New Year and January has taken its toll. As holiday mode winds down there’s still time this summer to stick to your guns and get thrifty. February provides a full month of second chances and we’ve rounded up all the best free things for you to check out.
1. Chinese New Year Festival
Chinese New Year may be just behind us but the fun in Melbourne continues. If you’ve celebrated your socks off but still want a little more head down to Emporium and check out their Reflection Room. It’s a mirrored glass cube celebrating the sentiments of CNY—Longevity, Prosperity and Happiness. Even better, it’s all about frugality because it’s 100% free. Open from 12-6pm daily until the 5th of Feb.
2. Yarra Street Food Fest
This one goes out to all our indecisive readers. What’s better than going out to one plain old eatery? Going to a park full of food trucks where variety is the name of the game. Every weekend from the 2nd-26th of Feb get yourself down to the Burnley Circus site and let your nose be your guide. Free to look but not to taste.
3. Irish Folk Dancing
Ever wondered if you had a secret talent for Irish folk dancing and just never had the opportunity to show it off? Well now you can find out. For the first three Sundays this month there are free Irish dancing classes held in Fed Square. These are social classes so beginners of all ages are encouraged. You might even snag yourself an Irish lad or lassie.
4. Peninsula Short Film Fest
This one is for the film buffs out there. The Peninsula Short Film Fest is screening in Melbourne, just in case you couldn’t get down the coast. A selection of short films will be aired at Fed Square on the 12th of Feb from 2-4pm. The best bit? You don’t have to be a member to get free entry at this impromptu cinema.
5. Bored To Death
Attention culture buffs, your free fix awaits. For one week only come check out Archie Fitzgerald’s Bored to Death exhibition in Melbourne’s own Rankins Lane. It’s colourful, evocative and at times disturbing. Opening night takes place on Saturday 4th Feb from 6pm.
6. Cooking Without Waste
If you’re anything like me you probably threw out a bunch of Christmas leftovers. The great news is there’s a totally free, totally informative fix for the leftover conundrum. The Queen Vic Markets are offering two cooking demonstrations all about how to reduce food waste at home. If you’re still not convinced sources tell me there will be taste testing.
7. Asia Pop Courtyard
Who wants to go hang out at the Immigration Museum? I know, I know, the last time you said yes was a school excursion. Well hang on to your bucket hat because you’re about to change that. Every Friday in Feb come enjoy K-pop or J-pop DJs and performances in the courtyard of the Immigration Museum. You can even check out the museum for free on Asia Pop Fridays so let your inner school kid rejoice!
8. TRACE Exhibit
Sherlock Holmes wishes he were a real person so he could attend this one. TRACE takes you through police technologies from the 19th century up till today. Think spy cameras and advanced facial recognition. Sometimes it takes a little more than elementary to solve crimes. The exhibit is open Monday-Friday 10am-4pm at the Victoria Police Museum.
9. Melbourne Town Hall Veggie Patch
Green thumbs assemble! No we’re not getting together a new superhero squad. Sorry to get your hopes up. But we are letting you know there is a fantastic (and did we mention free?) garden show coming up this month. The Town Hall Veggie Patch is all about growing edible plants in small spaces. So if that sounds like your kind of fun then keep yourself free from the 7-9th of Feb.
10. Japanese Summer Festival
So turns out flights to Japan are really expensive. Who knew? We’ve got you covered. There’s a completely free way to experience Japan right here in Melbourne, and it doesn’t involve psychedelic drugs. On the 26th of Feb from 12-6pm good old Fed Square transforms itself into a Japanese village. There’ll be traditional music, food, art and performances. Plus there’s no airport security.
11. Docklands Pop Up Cinema
Your Friday nights just got cheaper. Park Cinema Docklands presents three classic feature films to keep you frugally entertained. If you’re a fan of The Wedding Singer, Back to the Future or The Dish (Aussie’s represent) then you’ll be in for a treat. Gates open at 7pm and movies screen from 8.30pm so there’s plenty of time to find a cushy spot and enjoy a picnic before the big event.
12. Sidney Myer Music Bowl Concerts
One of the best summer experiences has to be an evening of music under the stars. But when it’s free? There’s basically nothing better. The Sidney Myer Music Bowl plays host to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for three free musical nights this month. Gates open from 4.30pm with performances from 7.30pm. It’s first in best dressed, but there’s no mosh at these concerts so you don’t need to worry about being near the front.
Get out your study guides because this month you’re headed back to uni. However, we can promise this time it won’t increase your student debt. Shimmerlands is Melbourne’s newest pop-up festival at the University of Melbourne in Parkville. You’ll find an array of cool activities to get around but if you’re feeling thrifty the outdoor music sessions are all free. They’ll be running Thursday-Sunday nights throughout Feb and the full line-up is already listed.
14. Park Lounge
Looking for a taste of LGBTIQ culture? Then you’ve got to check out Park Lounge, the all-ages and family friendly event happening on the 4th of Feb. Running as part of the Midsumma Festival program the event will be held in Kelly Park just a short stroll away from Werribee station. There will be music, avant-garde drag, face painting and even a talent show. So what are you waiting for? Your free midsummer fun awaits.
15. White Night
I can hear you shouting ‘overrated’ already but bear with me here. White Night is one of the biggest free events Melbourne has to offer and any frugal Lister will know if you do it right, it’s worth the effort. Tons of events across the CBD are running all night so skip the early rush and take it all in after midnight. You could dance the night away at Swing City or pay tribute to Prince at the Purple Rain installation.
Summer is all about festivals and no matter where you are across Melbourne there’s one happening right at your doorstep. Enter Summersault—Melton’s very own summer showcase from 4-10pm on Saturday 11th Feb. Come check out the carnival rides, twilight market and headline music act Sneaky Sound System. Don’t leave before the end either as there’s a big fireworks finale to take in.
17. The Tempest
A night with ‘The Bard’ is in your future. No, that’s not a cheap pick-up line but it is an invitation. The Sly Rat Theatre Co. presents Shakespeare’s The Tempest at Pipemaker’s Park on the Maribyrnong River. There are nine amazing performances kicking off on the 17th of Feb so really there’s no reason not to get a little Shakespearean this month.
18. Classics In The Park
There aren’t many places you can enjoy opera for free but we have the inside scoop. For three spectacular Saturday evenings this February the City of Stonnington presents classical music concerts for your free viewing pleasure. Dip your toes into the classical pond with some opera in the first week, liven it up with Broadway in the second and finish the month out with smooth symphony.
19. St Kilda Festival
Too broke for Falls this year? Just couldn’t scrape up a ticket to Laneway? This year’s St Kilda Festival is going to be insanely awesome and budget friendly. The music line-up boasts acts from The Smith Street Band to Ecca Vandal and even Daryl Braithwaite. But there’s more to this than just music. There’ll be a ton of activities from bubble soccer to a motorbike stunt show. No matter what you’re into, get yourself down to St Kilda on the 12th of Feb. You can thank us later.
20. Summer Fling
Did someone say free clothes? Gather up five of your old quality items and trade them in for something new at the Summer Fling swap party. These could be clothes, bags, shoes, jewellery, books, anything you can’t stand to look at anymore but think somebody else will. As part of the Sustainable Living Festival there will also be workshops on everything from sewing and mending to turning your old t-shirt into a reusable bag. Now that’s thrifty.
21. AFL Women’s League
Ladies and gents we have exciting news. The NAB women’s football league is launching this month and you can get a front row seat to the action absolutely free. Kicking off on Feb 3rd at Ikon Park with Carlton facing off against Collingwood it’s going to be a field of strong, independent women showing football who’s boss.
There are a couple of game time/venue changes worth noting. On February 11, Carlton VS GWS Giants at Ikon Park will now start at 3:35pm (earlier start), and Collingwood VS Melbourne will now be played at Ikon Park rather than the original venue of Olympic Park oval.
Image credit: Nathan Doran Photography for St Kilda Festival