Fly the Aussie flag loudly and proudly at these top Australia Day events and festivals.
In Melbourne, Australia Day starts as early as a week before with a special Australia Day luncheon. From there, it’s all uphill, with a series of exciting displays of diversity and national pride that pours throughout the city.
From lively Australia Day eve parties to that fantastic moment when Melbourne lights up the night sky, there are plenty of events to make your heart swell with pride on 26 January. Here’s a snapshot of some of the city’s best.
Best Australia Day events and experiences in Melbourne
Image: Australia Day Victoria
Australia Day fireworks
It’s not Australia Day without a fantastic fireworks display.
Melbourne offers one of the best and most dynamic fireworks displays on Australia Day.
After a year releasing sparklers from Etihad Statium, the extraordinary fireworks display returns to Docklands Harbour where pyrotechnic displays. These will be released from various barges along the harbour at 9pm.
For more info: Australia Day Victoria
Australia Day Melbourne fireworks vantage points:
|Fireworks vantage points||What's happening?||Food and drink|
|Docklands Harbour||6-9:30pm (fireworks at 9pm). Food trucks, roaming artists and entertainers, live music.||Food for sale.|
Australia Day cruises
Capture the sights and sounds of Melbourne from the water
Sail through Australia Day on a cruise that not only celebrates the beauty of our great country, but its multiculturalism as well.
Melbourne Showboat offers three Aussie Day cruises throughout the day that take you from Docklands to Williamstown, Port Melbourne and St Kilda Beach to the backdrop of an entertaining DJ set. Food and drinks are available for purchase. Both daytime and sunset cruises are available.
The RACV Australia Day Picnic and Federation Vehicle Display, King’s Domain Alexandra Gardens
There's something for everybody at the annual RACV Australia Day Picnic.
Don't be fooled by the name of this event - it's not purely for revheads, although there will be plenty of those around. As well as featuring veteran, vintage and classic vehicles, this Australia Day picnic is a family-friendly event packed chock full of installations, art displays and live entertainment.
For little ones, Peppa Pig will be headlining the main stage alongside live and local performances and kids' yoga sessions. For older kits there are live performances on the main stage and food stalls to keep grins on faces.
This event runs from 11am-4pm.
More info: RACV Australia Day Picnic
Australia Day Parade
Be that face in the crowd at the annual Australia Day Parade.
March along to the beat of Melbourne's drum the morning of Australia Day with this iconic parade. Starting at 11am, it welcomes thousands of people to revel in the live entertainment provided by over 80 cultural groups as they march down Swanston Street.
The parade follows the city's official flag raising ceremony and concludes at midday - just in time for you to get to that Aussie Day barbie you've been invited to. Thoughtful, eh?
For more info: Australia Day Parade
Whitehorse Australia Day Concert
There’s no better way to kick off Whitehorse Festival Season than with a stellar lineup of acts on Australia Day.
Followed by a breathtaking fireworks display, of course. In our humble opinions, the city of Whitehorse in Melbourne's suburbs is the one to beat.
On Australia Day it's offering a free twilight concert from 6pm-10pm featuring the music talents of Luke Kennedy, The Chantoozies, Raw Brit and Alex Papps.
When the last note has been sung and the crowd is at a hush, the sky will light up in colour at 9:50pm in a 10-minute fireworks finale. Hot tip: Get in early and the kids will love you as there will be free rides and amusement running from 5pm-9:40-pm.
For more info: Whitehorse Australia Day concert
Top free things to do on Australia Day in Melbourne
- Walk into Government House: This annual opening gives Melburnians and visitors the chance to visit the State Apartments and Grounds of Government House for free. Doors open at 9:30am and there will be performances on the grounds throughout the day. Picnics on the grounds are welcomed.
- Be a beach bum on St Kilda Beach: When the sun is out, there’s nothing more Aussie than zipping off to the local beach. Nothing.
- Australia Day RACV Picnic at Kings Domain: Line too long at Government House to sit yourself down for a picnic on the lawn? Try the nearby Kings Domain instead. Today it features live entertainment that’s perfect for the whole family.
- Docklands: The Docklands precinct is a diverse space for entertainment and festivities. In the past, Australia Day has seen it transform into a carnival-esque space filled with face painting, kite-making and market fare that culminates in a fireworks display at 9:30pm. Details for 2017’s Australia Day are still to be finalised, but we’ll keep you updated as details come in.
- Catch the Australia Day parade: Every year, thousands line the streets of Melbourne to watch the morning parade. It includes the official flag raising ceremony and runs from 11am-noon along Swanston Street.
Are stores open on Australia Day in Melbourne?
The major shopping centres that will open for Australia Day and their trading hours.
- Swanston Street: Times vary
- Melbourne Central: Open from 10am-6pm
- Southgate Melbourne: Open from 10am-7pm
- Highpoint: Open from 9am-9pm
- Westfield Doncaster: Open from 10am-5pm.
- Northland Shopping Centre: Open from 9:45am-11:45pm
- Chapel Street: Times vary.
- Chadstone Shopping Centre: Open from 9am-9pm
- Clarendon Street, South Melbourne: Times vary
- Bridge Road, Richmond: Open from 10am-5pm
You can also spend this public holiday shopping from the comfort of your own home. We're throwing a True Blue Sale, celebrating Australian retailers, were you can save big on your favourite Aussie brands. Check it out here!
Feature image: Australia Day Victoria