Places that dominate the big, global quality-of-life indices – your Viennas, your Vancouvers, your Helsinkis – do so on the basis of public safety, hygiene, environment, economic stability and the like. Pretty humdrum stuff. Culture and recreation, however, also play vital roles and help determine whether a city merely delivers the bare minimum or, preferably, enriches and stimulates as well. Patrons of Melbourne city hotels know what this is all about.
The state capital of Victoria has long stood proudly atop many a livability index (The Economist Intelligence Unit index for 2012 is a prominent case). That the metropolis on the Yarra succeeds with such banal regularity is a credit to a lively arts, culture and extracurricular scene that, simply put, makes Melbourne a fun, attractive place to live and, indeed, visit.
To make the argument even more crystal, discover the gems the city has to offer this autumn.
10. Queen Victoria Night Market
(Wednesday nights until March 27)
It’s been a decade and a half now since the Southern Hemisphere’s foremost public market has held late hours once a week from late November to late March. From crafts to hawker food, the over 200 stalls at Vic Market have it all. Hotels near the Docklands provide a good access point.
9. Fair Trade Markets
In conjunction with the global Fair Trade Fortnight, the Fair Trade Markets at The Atrium – Federation Square offers the best opportunity to shop mindfully a week before Mothers’ Day. Good food and family entertainment complete the experience.
8. Melbourne International Coffee Expo
As one of the most important and impressive coffee trade shows in the world, the 2013 International Coffee Expo at the Melbourne Showgrounds in Ascot Vale will cement the city’s status as a major coffee and café capital.
As autumn wanes, the eclectic suburb of St Kilda hosts a banner short film festival. Now in its 30th year, the festival shines the spot on the best emerging talent in Australian cinema.
One of the model free community festivals in the world – let alone Australia – the Carnival-like Moomba takes place over the long Labour Day weekend and lures well over a million people to live music, concerts, parades, fireworks and more.
5. Concerts at Rod Laver Arena
What is it about autumn that draws so many musical legends to Rod Laver Arena? Whatever it is, few will gripe in Melbourne as the likes of Neil Young, Santana, Steve Miller, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Robert Plant take the stage between March 15 and April 3.
4. Hidden Gems Prahran Market Tour
The best of autumn’s harvest comes to life at wonderful Prahran Market with the behind-the-scenes Hidden Gems Tour. Affordable and good fun for the entire family.
3. Brunswick Music Festival
The only inner city folk roots and world music festival in Australia takes place in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick in mid-March. A mainstay on the culture calendar for over two decades, the Brunswick Music Festival sports a full, diverse programme of artists.
2. Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
A list of events in Melbourne that omits a food and wine envoy is a poor one. Lucky for us, then, that autumn opens with the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. The world-class culinary fest takes the capital of Victoria by storm with hundreds of events all over the city.
1. Melbourne International Comedy Festival
(March 27 – April 21)
World-class describes the Melbourne International Comedy Festival as well. A mainstay on the global comedy circuit, the 2013 edition will feature the talents of Mike Birbiglia, Danny Bhoy, Iliza Shlesinger and Aamer Rahman.