Top 10 things to do in Melbourne at night
Down the famous laneways of Melbourne, you'll stumble across bars that bleed music and laughter into the city night. Busking performers serenade passers-by, while jazz riffs float idly down alleyways and seep into the twinkling night. Band posters, accrued over decades, advertise the long history of a city that lives and breathes a good evening out. Open-late restaurants clink and sizzle, as party animals and night owls find the energy they need to keep going until sunrise.
1. Catch one of 3000+ live music gigs
On any given night across Melbourne, there's a superabundance of incredible live gigs to choose from. You'll find local and international artists at pubs, clubs, stadiums, theatres and street corners. You can even attend a Tram Session, where live acts play on a moving tram! Legendary places include the 'Old Bar' in Fitzroy, the Ding Dong Lounge, Northcote Social Club, Evelyn Hotel, Prince Bandroom, the Toff in Town and Howler. The Hotel Esplanade in St Kilda, recently revamped, is another must-go for your list.
2. Visit the Australian Music Vault
By day Section 8 looks like two shipping containers in a car park... because it is. But after dark it turns into something else altogether more enticing; a hip and happening place for DJ appreciation, people watching, art talk and beer sipping. While the seating is basic, Chinese lanterns and parasols give this venue a colourful and twinkly ambiance.
3. Explore the ups and downs of Liverpool Street
With one foot in Chinatown and another in the theatre district, Liverpool Street is full of surprises. Head downstairs to Double Happiness, where the propaganda posters are as interesting as the drinks list. Or get into a bit of history upstairs at New Gold Mountain, a bar that takes its inspiration from old Chinatown. Along with a melting pot of eastern cuisines, Liverpool Street has a collection of unique shops that are open late.
4. Get a taste of luxury at Lui Bar
Watching the sunset from Lui Bar on the 55th floor of the Rialto is an enchanting experience you'll never forget. Whether you're sipping vintage champagne or knocking back a virgin mojito, the view will soon have you totally intoxicated. And it's not all about the drinks list at this bar; the snacks are famously delicious too.
5. Eat out late
In Melbourne you won't go hungry while you're burning the candle at both ends. An around-the-clock dining culture makes it easy to find fantastic food after midnight. There are Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Greek restaurants ready to welcome you to a late-night table. And if a burger's the only thing that will hit the spot, look for the friendly lights of an American-style diner.
6. See who's raising the bar
Bar culture in Melbourne is ever-evolving, so you'll need to strap on your most comfortable evening shoes to keep up. New recommendations include Trinket, with its enticing secret entrance; The Everleigh, which has made it to the World's Best Bar list; Heartbreaker, for jukebox and pool table fun; and Kirk's wine bar, where you can talk vintages and varietals until the cows come home. Talking of cows, don't forget to check out Milk the Cow - a licensed fromagerie where the amazing cheese is artfully matched to an equally-delicious beverage.
7. Spend the night at an uber-cool jazz club
Is dinner and a show at a jazz club still cool? Absolutely. Melbourne has a huge diversity of jazz options across the city, from big band to fusion and house. When you're wandering the CBD lanes, keep an eye out for Paris Cat, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club and Juliet Melbourne. In Richmond, look for local and international acts at the stylish Dizzy's.
8. Visit Cherry, one of the world's best rock bars
With a deeply-dark decor, well-priced drinks and edgy customers, Cherry Bar on AC/DC Lane is an iconic rock bar that launched the likes of Jet and Airbourne. It once declined Lady Gaga a set, due to an existing booking with a local band. Undeterred, she showed up anyway and danced the night away. Cherry is open every night until super-late.
9. Experience acoustic perfection at the Melbourne Recital Centre
An innovative modern space, the Melbourne Recital Centre has been designed with acoustic perfection in mind. Located in the arts district, it hosts a range of musical acts and performances. Check out the calendar to see what's on. There are always free performances, cultural shows, classical works and even guided behind-the-scenes tours.
10. Jazz up your life in early June
With 44,000 attendees, 129 events across the city and 500 local and international jazz artists, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival is a great reason to take a winter holiday in Melbourne. Performances range from intimate gatherings in bars to huge concert halls. Now in its 21st year, this festival appeals to old and young, from jazz experts to total beginners. Its annual programme is unpredictable, unrepeatable and unmissable.