By Lachlan Abbott
Dave Chappelle, Lorinda May Merrypor, Hugh Sheridan, Freida Commitment and Ella Hooper will all feature at festivals and shows in Melbourne this month.Credit:AP, Eugune Hyland, Scott McNaughton, Simon Schluter
The tennis is done, school has started, work is back for many, but summer is here to stay in Melbourne … at least for a little while.
It’s the hottest month of the year in one of the coldest cities on mainland Australia, so enjoy it with a summer musical festival, a Dave Chappelle set, or even a trip to the Melbourne Theatre Company’s new courtroom drama. The Age has compiled a list of the best things to see and do across the city and state this month before the holiday season is well and truly done.
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Flemington | February 11 | Tickets from $198.70
The biggest music festival this month is a one-day party at Flemington Racecourse featuring international R&B act Joji, American soft rockers Haim, Phoebe Bridgers and breakout house star Fred Again. The indie pop sounds of The Jungle Giants and Mallrat headline the Australian contingent, while Billie Eilish’s wiz producer brother Finneas will also take to the stage.
Joji performs at Coachella in April last year.Credit:Amy Harris/Invision/AP
St Kilda Festival
St Kilda | February 18 – 19 | Free
Some of the country’s best music acts will take to Paul Kelly’s favourite promenade for one weekend. On the Saturday, a tribute to the late Archie Roach and a performance from Christine Anu highlight a celebration of Indigenous culture. On the Sunday, Confidence Man, Hoodoo Gurus and Yothu Yindi will lead proceedings on the main stage, while electronic producer Alice Ivy is among the Catani Gardens stage acts.
Melburnians soak in the sun at St Kilda festival last year.Credit:Scott McNaughton
Yarra Valley and Torquay | February 4 – 5 | Ticket prices vary
Head out to Coldstream on Saturday the 4th or down the coast to Torquay on Sunday the 5th to see Angus and Julia Stone headline this summer music bonanza. International folk stars Ben Harper and City and Colour are also coming down under for the show and will join former Hottest 100 winners The Rubens in performing.
Now & Again
Werribee | February 18 | Tickets $166.30
Gang of Youths is the biggest rock act in Australia right now. Combined with old-school electronic icons Empire of the Sun and new-age pop star Tones and I, this festival at Werribee Racecourse will likely prove popular.
Gang of Youths frontman Dave Le’aupepe performing in Sydney in August.Credit:Jess Gleeson
National Sustainable Living Festival
Melbourne | February 1 – 28 | Ticket prices vary, many events free
From Warburton to Geelong, Sherbrooke to Yarraville, and everywhere in between, the National Sustainable Living Festival encompasses a variety of talks, lessons, tours, art exhibitions, films and live performances. All are dedicated to sharing and enhancing sustainable living practices.
Dragon Boat Festival
Melbourne | February 19 | Free or at least $800 if you want to enter a team
Festivities for the Year of the Rabbit continue into February across Melbourne, including this gathering of colourful dragon boats in Docklands. Races will cover the Yarra River at Victoria Harbour while food trucks and lion dances line the riverbank.
An Albury-Wodonga team competing in the Dragon Boat festival races in Docklands in 2019.Credit:Scott McNaughton
Day By Day
Bendigo | February 4 | Tickets from $92
Iconic Australian electronic acts Flight Facilities and The Presets headline this day-long music festival in regional Victoria. Head to the Bendigo Racecourse to also hear Jordan Brando, KLP, Memphis LK and Running Touch.
Melbourne | Until February 12 | Ticket prices vary
Victoria’s premier LGBTQI festival continues after kicking off with a major celebration at Alexandra Gardens in January. It includes the annual Midsumma Pride March in St Kilda, a street party to be held on Gertrude and Smith Street in Fitzroy and Collingwood the following weekend. If you’re interested in checking out a cabaret show, Follies Girl and Ziegfeld Boy are both in South Yarra from February 3 to 5 and are glorious options. For a more traditional stage show, check out JUDY • AUSTRALIA • 1964, which recounts Judy Garland’s disastrous Festival Hall performance years ago.
Freida Commitment at the Midsumma Carnival in January.Credit:Scott McNaughton
Festival of the Photocopier
Melbourne | February 11 – 12 | Free
No, this is not a festival dedicated to Dennis Denuto from The Castle trying to clear tray three. It’s the Southern Hemisphere’s largest zine festival (possibly). Over two hundred stalls will be set up at the Meat Market in North Melbourne thanks to organisers Sticky Institute.
Melbourne | February 11 – 12 | Tickets from $119.90
Acclaimed American comedian Dave Chappelle is back in Australia after his Netflix specials cemented his return to the spotlight. Some of his material about trans issues has generated controversy, but he’ll be doing two shows at Rod Laver Arena.
Dave Chappelle is coming to Melbourne in February.Credit:Mathieu Bitton / Netflix
Melbourne | February 9 – 10, 17 – 21 | Tickets from $89.90
Dark-humoured British comedian Jimmy Carr has ten shows planned for the Hamer Hall this month for his Terribly Funny tour. After several Netflix specials and becoming a key part of the UK comedy panel show circuit, Carr is sure to draw large crowds to hear his withering responses to heckles and disregard for political correctness.
Jimmy Carr at the BAFTA Gala Dinner in London last year.Credit:Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP
Melbourne | February 10 | Tickets from $89.90
Another international comedy act heading to a big Melbourne arena, former Saturday Night Live writer and Netflix standup special star John Mulaney will perform his observational comedic gear at Margaret Court Arena this month.
John Mulaney at the Emmy Awards in 2019.Credit:AP
Melbourne | February 14 – March 1 | Tickets from $79.90
UK comedian Sarah Millican’s upbeat tone is markedly different from her countryman Carr, but the jokes hit just as well. Her ability to turn taboo topics into relatable humour won her a four-star review from this masthead when she performed here in 2019.
The Comedians – Live on Stage
St Kilda | February 17, 24 | Ticket prices vary
Mick Molloy, Sam Pang, Marty Sheargold and Lawrence Mooney are well worth the price of admission as individual local comedy acts, so combining them into a comedy quartet for two summer night shows in St Kilda’s Palais Theatre is a certain winner.
Ballet International Gala III
St Kilda | February 4 | Tickets from $145
Australia’s premier ballet gala will hit the Palais Theatre on the first weekend of February – bringing together some the dancers from The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Staatsballett Berlin, The Australian Ballet and Astana Opera.
Opera for All
Melbourne | February 4 | Free
The first Saturday of February will also bring perfectly pitched high notes and melodic harmonies to Federation Square in a free, one-hour open-air concert. Opera for All is a global concert series showcasing opera’s best. Orchestra Victoria musicians will help back the live performance.
tick, tick … BOOM!
Melbourne | February 1 – 12 | Tickets from $75
Hugh Sheridan takes on the lead role in this acclaimed musical as an aspiring composer in New York City in the 1990s. Based on the life of celebrated playwright Jonathan Larson, the musical’s name was inspired in part by the composer’s expiring potential.
Hugh Sheridan stars in tick, tick … Boom!Credit:Scott McNaughton
Melbourne | From February 26 | Tickets from $69.90
Award-winning jukebox musical & Juliet will hit the Regent Theatre this month to unravel what could have been in the classical Shakespearean tale. Specifically, what if Juliet found Romeo dead, but decided to spare herself and become a pop star instead? Indigenous star Lorinda May Merrypor will lead the Australian version of the Broadway hit.
Lorinda May Merrypor will play the lead role of Juliet in ‘& Juliet’ in Melbourne.Credit:Eugene Hyland
Melbourne | Until April 30 | Tickets from $59.90
The Disney stage show returned to Her Majesty’s Theatre at the very end of January after first making landfall in 2010. This time, Australia’s leading lady of musical theatre, Marina Prior, features in two distinctly different roles: Miss Andrew – Mr Banks’ evil former nanny who replaces Mary Poppins – and the Bird Woman.
Marina Prior at Her Majesty’s Theatre, where she will return to play Miss Andrew and the Bird Woman in Mary Poppins.Credit:Scott McNaughton
Sam Jinks: Hope in the Wilderness
Collingwood | From February 16 | Tickets from $70
Acclaimed sculptor Sam Jinks is launching his first Melbourne show since 2009 at the Sullivan+Strumpf gallery in Collingwood midway through February. Jinks’ incredibly lifelike figures depict the human form with simple, striking realism.
Sam Jinks’ Seated Woman, 2022, sold for more than $100,000 at Sydney Contemporary in 2022.
Nudie and Blobs
South Yarra | Until February 25 | Free
Celebrated photographer Polly Borland has gone from shooting a controversial nude portrait of feminist Germaine Greer in 1999 to turning the lens on herself in this exhibition which explores body image amid modern selfie culture. Alongside five large-scale photographs of her own, Borland squished bits of her figure together to inspire several playful sculptures on show at STATION Melbourne.
Polly Borland at her new exhibition, Nudie and Blobs.Credit:Simon Schluter
Hayley Millar Baker: Nyctinasty
Preston | February 11 – March 26 | Free
Gunditjmara and Djabwurrung artist Hayley Millar Baker’s cinematic film Nyctinasty explores “the delicate balance between the physical world and the spiritual realm”. It was first shown at the National Gallery of Australia and will soon be at Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne’s north.
A still from Hayley Millar Baker’s video work Nyctinasty, 2021, installation view.Credit:Hayley Millar Baker and Vivien Anderson Gallery.
Wanapati Yunupiŋu: ṉilŋṉilŋ′ (the spark)
Melbourne | February 11 – March 4 | Free
Hailing from Arnhem Land, Wanapati Yunupiŋu sketches Gumatj mob stories onto dumped signage and other metal objects he discovers. The shimmering results will be on display at Tolarno Galleries this month.
Callum Morton: Inside Out
Melbourne | February 11 – April 15 | Free
EastLink Hotel sculptor Callum Morton is the subject of this exhibition at the Anna Schwartz Gallery on Flinders Lane. It features six large-scale paintings which consider how spaces and times become lost or hidden.
Callum Morton, seen here with his 2018 work Monument # 32 Helter Shelter, has new work showing at Anna Schwartz Gallery in February.Credit:Steven Siewert
Red Hot Chili Peppers with Post Malone
Melbourne | February 7, 9 | Ticket prices vary
Six-time Grammy-nominated rapper Post Malone will join the Red Hot Chili Peppers to rock Marvel Stadium. The band behind hits such as Californication and Under the Bridge is touring the world in the first half of 2023 after releasing their Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen albums.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers bring their world tour to Australia with special guest Post Malone.Credit:Matt Sayles
Melbourne | February 1 | Tickets $100
It’s sold out, but if you can find a ticket, you’ll see the UK producer who is the man of the moment right now after his Boiler Room set led to a mainstream resurgence of house beats in the past year.
Waurn Ponds | February 25 | Tickets from $129.90
English rocker Sting will perform just outside of Geelong at Mt Duneed Estate in A Day on the Green show, with James Reyne and Joe Sumner. It has been almost seven years since the former frontman of The Police came to Australian shores.
Sting returns to Australia for the first time in nearly seven years.Credit:Martin Kierszenbaum
Marvel Stadium | February 24, 25 | Tickets from $102.90
Former One Direction singer Harry Styles will take over Marvel Stadium for two shows in late February. Styles – who has also taken up acting after departing the celebrated UK boy band – has scored several hits as a solo artist, including As It Was and Watermelon Sugar.
Harry Styles performs in 2018.Credit:Handout/Helene Marie Pambrun via Getty Images
Margaret Court Arena | February 8 | Tickets from $109.90
Margaret Court Arena will be the stage for American indie pop sensation Phoebe Bridgers’ solo show before her Laneway festival appearances. Based in Los Angeles, Bridgers is behind easy-listening hits such as Motion Sickness and Kyoto.
Phoebe Bridgers performing at Glastonbury last June. She’s currently touring Australia as part of the Laneway Festival.Credit:Joel C Ryan / Invision
The Forum | February 28 – March 1 | Tickets from $64.90
Melbourne local Julia Jacklin has garnered international attention recently for her soft melodic tracks and personal songwriting, as well as a nomination for the Australian Music Prize. Her Australia tour dates – which include two stops at The Forum – mark Jacklin’s first Aussie shows with her full band since 2020.
Australian artist Julia Jacklin will be performing at The Forum.
Margaret Court Arena| February 19 | Tickets $89.90
The old-school UK girl group will bring their uplifting pop sounds to Melbourne before heading up to Sydney to headline its Mardi Gras celebrations. Hits from the trio – which is back to its original lineup of Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhán Donaghy – include About You Now and Push The Button.
Malthouse Theatre Outdoor Stage | February 19 | Tickets $40
Ella Hooper’s easy-listening acoustic sounds should make for a pleasant summer night at the Malthouse Theatre’s now-permanent outdoor stage, which will also feature a bold talk series from ABC broadcaster Libbi Gorr this month.
Ella Hooper’s new album Small Town Temple is a love letter to the place she grew up.Credit:Simon Schluter
Rod Laver Arena | February 28 – March 1 | Ticket prices vary
The five-man boy band has been going for 25 years thanks to hits such as I Want It That Way and will perform at Rod Laver Arena over two nights in late February.
Backstreet Boys, from left, Brian Littrell AJ McLean, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, and Howie Dorough at the Grammy Awards in 2019, in Los Angeles.Credit:Jordan Strauss/Invision
170 Russell | February 10 | Tickets from $44.90
Australian rappers Thundamentals have infused their smooth lyrical flows with catchy hooks to create hits such as Sally and I Miss You over the years.
The Forum | February 11 – 12 | Tickets from $109.90
If you want a flashback to some viral late 1990s dance tracks, the Vengaboys quartet will perform this month. The Dutch Eurodance group are behind tracks such as Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! and We Like To Party!
Sidney Myer Music Bowl | February 11 | Ticket prices vary
The band behind Australian anthem Great Southern Land will celebrate its 40th anniversary at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl alongside fellow local rockers Eskimo Joe. Indie group Frente and anthemic alt-rock Motor Ace will also play.
Sidney Myer Music Bowl | February 17 | Tickets from $100
Club bangers paired with an orchestra sounds unorthodox, but it’s usually a reliable way to make a good show. Throwing in Natalie Bassingthwaighte and rising soul star Thandi Phoenix and you have certain winner. Tracks from Calvin Harris, Flume, Eric Prydz and Disclosure will feature.
Melbourne | February 10 – March 5 | Ticket prices vary
Based on a 1922 silent horror film about a vampire, the latest show to hit the Malthouse Theatre is set in a Tasmanian mining town. Locals hope to restore it to its past glory, but the gothic horror film also features a central figure who has a taste for blood.
Jacob Collins Levy, star of Nosferatu at Malthouse Theatre.Credit:Kristian Gehradte
Comedy Theatre, Melbourne | February 17 – March 19 | Tickets from $59
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is a long-running West End whodunnit that has enjoyed immense popularity over the years. After a police sergeant arrives from London with shocking news of murder, seven strangers caught at a remote countryside guesthouse must find out the culprit among them.
Cast members of Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap (left to right) Anna O’Byrne, Alex Rathgeber, Adam Murphy and Laurence Boxhall.Credit:Justin McManus
Melbourne | February 8 – March 25 | Tickets prices vary
The Melbourne Theatre Company’s latest production is a courtroom drama about criminal defence barrister Tessa (Sheridan Harbridge) who goes from representing men accused of sexual assault to becoming a victim herself.
Sheridan Harbridge as Tessa: “The emotional impact of the show really does colour my own daily life.”Credit:Brett Boardman
An Evening with David Sedaris
Melbourne | February 6 – 7 | Tickets $74.90
New York Times bestselling author and humourist David Sedaris will spend two nights at Hamer Hall this month. Sedaris’ straight-shooting, razor-sharp wit made his latest work, Happy-Go-Lucky, another success, and he will likely bring the same chaotic energy to his Australian storytelling tour.
Author David Sedaris.Credit:Adam De Tour
An Afternoon with Barry Dickins
Arts Centre, Melbourne | February 4 | Free
Acclaimed Australian playwright and author Barry Dickins will share stories from his 50-year literary career in this relaxed talk. Dickins has penned award-winning historical dramas such as Remember Ronald Ryan – a play about the famously last legally executed prisoner in Australia – and his work also often reflects on growing up in working-class Melbourne.
Barry Dickins back in 2015.Credit:Darren James
Worlds Away: An Evening of Fantastical Storytelling
Melbourne | February 17 | Pay what you wish (but suggested price is $15)
Join some of Australia’s best young adult fiction authors for a night of storytelling at the Wheeler Centre. Six new fantasy tales will be the focus of the conversational evening event, featuring New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman and Lisa Fuller is a Wuilli Wuilli writer Lisa Fuller.
Behrouz: Screening + Q&A
Melbourne | February 10 | Ticket prices vary – $28 for an adult
Refugee Behrouz Boochani spent six years in offshore detention on Manus Island after fleeing the Iranian regime. Boochani is now in Australia after being granted refuge in New Zealand. After a special screening a film about his story at ACMI, Boochani answer questions alongside the film’s director.
Former Manus Island refugee Behrouz Boochani.Credit:Wolter Peeters
Sunset Safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo
Werribee | Every Saturday until February 25 | Tickets prices vary
Take a trip through the African savannah (aka Werribee) and spot some hippos, giraffes, and rhinos on a Saturday evening this February. Werribee Open Range Zoo’s sunset tour also includes the option to have a picnic, African barbeque or a cocktail.
Lions at Werribee Open Range Zoo.
An Evening With Richard Dawkins
Melbourne | February 17 | Tickets from $59.90
Those who enjoy the British biologist’s religious critiques can hear Dawkins in conversation with Australian philosopher Peter Singer at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Richard Dawkins at 81.
Murder Mystery: Labassa Mansion
Caulfield | February 4, 10, 11, 24, 25 | Tickets $60
If you’re looking for something that’s a little more active and engaging, an impressive old mansion in Melbourne’s inner east is playing host to a murder mystery game. For roughly 1½ hours, you can play the role of detective, following clues and interrogating suspects to identify the murderous culprit.
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