Melbourne, Out & About

5 Best On The Cheap Festivals In Melbourne

It seems like no matter what you’re into – music, gin, Nutella, mime, dumplings – Melbourne has an event for you, perhaps even an entire festival. A city renowned for its arts, culture and use of spaces, Melbs has an utter shedload of things going on all year-round, to fit all manner of tastes and budgets. Here’s but a few.

#1 Leaps and Bounds

Leaps and Bounds has a difficult task ahead every year: getting Melburnians out of the house in the dead of winter. Thankfully, the programmers carefully choose a select group of acts that manages to rouse Melbourne audiences away from the warmth of their $12 Kmart fan heaters. With a diverse mix of genres and event types, Leaps and Bounds focuses on local talent, with a few international exceptions. Venues are scattered across the north of Melbourne (the festival acts with the support of Yarra City Council) in venues of all types: from larger-scale gig venues like The Corner and Melba Spiegeltent, to cosy lacunas like Longplay and Old Bar.

The festival caters for the manifold tastes of Melburnians, making sure to include an array of genres in their lineup: country, folk, pop, dance, hip-hop, bluegrass, rock and roll- basically, if Melbourne folk are into it, it’s somewhere on the Leaps and Bounds roster.

On yearly from July through to the beginning of August.

#2 Melbourne International Comedy Festival

As one of the world’s largest comedy festivals, MICF is a beast to tackle, but you get a full month to have a red-hot go. Across scores of venues, hundreds of stand-up comedians, sketch groups, musical comics, improv troupes and burlesque acts descend upon Melbourne. It’s hard to imagine the Melbourne Town Hall, the beehive of the festival, not festooned with pink MICF flags, punters swarming around ‘the board’ looking for shows that pique their interest. The 600 show list can seem a little daunting, but the best advice is to Google anyone you find interesting, rather than just going for ‘the bloke off the telly’.

An annual event on from mid March until the end of April. 

#3 Melbourne Writer’s Festival

The MWF is Christmas for Melbourne’s literary scene: a massive nine-day event chockers with talks, panels, performances and meetups. Local and international writers and thinkers fill Melbourne spaces with ideas, discussion and inspiration; the festival celebrates the power and joy of the written word.

The festival happens every year for about two weeks at the end of August through to September.

#4 Monster Fest

Although not strictly a horror film festival, Monster Fest is your Melbourne annual go-to for just that. A celebration of genre filmmaking, Monster Fest is a curated assembly of the gory, weird, creepy, surreal and intriguing in film, including both indie projects and bigger-budget efforts. The festival also brings in guests from near and abroad: 2016 guests included French director Julia Ducournau (Raw) and Canadian director Ted Kotcheff (Wake in Fright, First Blood). Monster Fest takes place mostly at the Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn.

An annual event on during November.

#5 Melbourne Fringe

Melbourne’s independent home of, well, ‘fringe’ acts. Here you’ll find cabaret, light installations, theatre, dance, circus, film, and any and all manner of performance art you can think of. After the Adelaide Fringe, it’s the second-biggest annual indie arts festival in the country, and has been running since 1982. Rather than the CBD locale of MICF, Fringe’s hub is in North Melbourne, where the Town Hall, Lithuanian Club and Meat Market all make up the vibrant, buzzing nerve center of the festival.

Melbourne Fringe is on yearly for the last two weeks of September.

Image Sources: Yarra City Arts, Pop Culture-y, The Trend Spotter, Monster Fest, Melbourne Fringe.

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Writing and podcasting, usually while listening to Phil Collins.

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