When is the best time to visit Melbourne?
The best time to visit Melbourne is either in March, April, or October to mid-December. These months generally offer sunny weather while avoiding the mid-summer heat and the Australian school holiday crowds. Also, since they fall in the shoulder season, hotel rates are lower and crowds are smaller.
- Best Time for Good Weather: Late October to mid-April.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: October, November, March, and April.
- Best Time for Honeymoons: Late spring (October and November) and early autumn/fall (March and April).
- Best Time for Nightlife: November to March.
- Best Time for Saving Money: Avoid the Australian school holidays when hotel rates are generally higher, especially around the Christmas/New Year period. Hotels in the suburbs are usually cheaper on weekends though some city center hotels are still expensive, even on winter weekends, because of the very popular football games.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: Ideally, avoid the mid-summer heat; the cold and, often, wet winter; and the crowds and higher hotel rates during the Australian school holidays. So, the best time is late spring (October and November) and early autumn/fall (March and April).
- Best Time for Outdoor Activities: The heat can be uncomfortable during the peak of the summer (December to February) and it’s always cold, and often windy and wet, throughout the extended winter (May to September). The prime time for any outdoor activities is late spring (October and November) and early autumn/fall (March and April).
Melbourne Travel Seasons
- High Season (December and January): During this time, the weather is usually hot but the humidity is not as potentially uncomfortable as Sydney. Many Melburnians and tourists head to the beaches and various sporting events, especially the international cricket match held for up to 5 days straight after Christmas. Hotel rates are always higher during these 2 months which coincide with the Australian school holidays.
- Shoulder Season (February, March, April, September, October, and November): This is the best time to visit because it’s out of the school holiday periods, so there are fewer crowds, hotel rates are lower, and the weather is usually decent enough for sightseeing. Be wary, however, of weekends in September, when finals for the countrywide Australian Rules Football competition are held. These can attract crowds of 100,000, 20-30% of which may come from interstate.
- Low Season (May to August): Winter is always cold and often wet and windy, although days can sometimes be sunny and dry, but still chilly. Prices for hotels are at their lowest, except for the mid-year school holiday period (2 weeks around mid-July) and some weekends when up to 80,000 fans, including those from interstate, attend a football game.
Melbourne Weather by Month
The city’s weather is infamous for being so unpredictable. Locals often say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” The musical group Crowded House even wrote a song about it: Four Seasons in One Day.
- Melbourne Weather in January: This is the middle of summer, so take the usual precautions (hat and sunscreen), though Melbourne doesn’t suffer the high humidity that affects Sydney. Average daytime temperatures of 26°C can be misleading; it can often be 10° higher during the afternoon. Some rainfall but it’s much more likely to be remnants of a sub-tropical weather pattern to the north rather than the sort of drizzle witnessed in winter.
- Melbourne Weather in February: The dry heat continues, peaking in February, the hottest month of the year. Daytime temperatures of 37°C (about 100°F) are not uncommon, although it can fall to half that in a couple of hours after dark. Least number of rainy days (6) for the year.
- Melbourne Weather in March: As the autumn (fall) quickly arrives, the heat doesn’t tend to hang about in Melbourne like other Australian cities. Average daytime temperatures drop a few degrees to a pleasant 24°C but there’s not much more rain than January or February.
- Melbourne Weather in April: A pleasant time to visit as the numerous parks and gardens are covered in fallen leaves and some lingering warmth and sunshine are yet to be replaced by dark clouds and howling winds. Slight increase in the amount of average monthly rainfall and the number of days with rain (10). Daylight saving time finishes on the first weekend in April.
- Melbourne Weather in May: By now, winter has well and truly started so be prepared. Average daytime temperatures have dipped to 17°C and about 10°C overnight. This is made worse by winds that can blast through the city streets and destroy defenseless umbrellas. Similar rainfall as April and not much more than the summer months on average, but it may drizzle for hours, even days.
- Melbourne Weather in June: Melbourne never receives snow and damaging hail is rare, but the winter can be cold, windy, wet, and cloudy. This is not helped by the shortest amount of daylight for the year. The good news is that the football season is now in full swing.
- Melbourne Weather in July: Come prepared with an extra-thick coat and super-sturdy umbrella. Oddly, not as much average monthly rainfall as the summer months, but the mizzle (combined mist and drizzle) can last for days. With the year’s second-highest number of rainy days (14) and the lowest average daytime/overnight temperatures (14°C/7°C), even the hardiest Melburnians do sometimes complain.
- Melbourne Weather in August: The imminent finish of the football season heralds some optimism about the weather. While August is still one of the wettest and windiest months, clouds do break more often to reveal welcome patches of blue. Average daytime temperatures increase slightly as the winter officially ends by the start of September, but the weather can be (and often is) still fairly miserable.
- Melbourne Weather in September: Start of spring and the football finals. A changeable month, but more likely to remain wintry than summery for a few more weeks. Highest average monthly rainfall for the year so far, so don’t put away any coats or umbrellas quite yet.
- Melbourne Weather in October: More changeable weather, when a promisingly warmish morning can turn disappointingly wintry in minutes. Surprisingly, there is more rain in October than any month in winter, but is now more likely to be short, heavy spells as opposed to all-day drizzles. Average daytime temperatures have now hit the optimistic mark of 20°C but are a still-chilly 11°C overnight. Daylight savings time starts during the first weekend in October.
- Melbourne Weather in November: Stretches of blue skies and dry days improve the morale of Melburnians immeasurably as the Spring Carnival of horse-racing is squeezed between the football and cricket seasons. Strangely, November almost ties with December as the wettest month, but short sub-tropical downpours are much more likely than long drizzles. Every month from now until March, average daytime and overnight temperatures rise by a degree or 2 (°C) and there is much more blue sky than gray clouds.
- Melbourne Weather in December: As summer has now arrived, daytime temperatures can peak significantly higher than the average of 24°C. Scorching days of +35°C are common and bushfires in rural regions an occasional danger, but Melbourne does not suffer the high humidity of Sydney. Paradoxically, December is the year’s wettest month for total rainfall but there’s precipitation on only 10 days per month on average.
Melbourne Holidays, Events, and Festivals by Month
Melbourne Events in January
- New Year’s Day (1st) – Major public holiday when many shops, almost all offices, and a few tourist attractions will close. Locals like to relax (and, perhaps, recover from hangovers) with visits to the beach and gathering at barbecues in the parks.
- ‘Silly Season’ – Extends from around 20 December to the first week of January. Many businesses (but not those for tourists) close and very little gets done anywhere, except after-Christmas shopping and cricket-watching.
- School Holidays (mid-December to end of January) – The main holidays differ slightly in each state, but this is a time of higher hotel rates and occupancy and busier transport.
- Australia Day (26th) – Public holiday celebrated with events (such as citizenship ceremonies) for a few, while the majority flock to the beach, go shopping, or watch cricket on TV.
- Australian Open (end of January) – Major Grand Slam tennis tournament held for about 2 weeks at dedicated arenas in East Melbourne.
- Midsumma Festival (changeable, January/February) – Major gay/lesbian and cultural festival. Not as famous as the Mardi Gras in Sydney but still vibrant and popular. About 170 events are held at over 100 venues across the city and state for 3 weeks.
Melbourne Events in February
- Chinese New Year (changeable, January/February) – Celebrated by the sizeable Chinese community, particularly at Chinatown and Southbank near the city center. Expect plenty of dragon parades, fireworks, cultural events, and packed restaurants over a couple of weeks.
- St Kilda Festival (second Sunday of February) – Long-running and regarded as Australia’s largest free music festival. Also, visual arts, beach sports, food stalls, and (hopefully) great weather. Loads of fun for the family.
Melbourne Events in March
- Moomba Festival (changeable, early March) – Largest free community festival in Australia. Much-loved and held for 4 days, finishing on Labour Day (second Monday of the month). Parades, rides, and plenty for the family to enjoy at various venues along Yarra River.
- Brunswick Music Festival (changeable, early March) – Long-established event starting with a street party. Lots of contemporary live music and cultural events at various venues for 2 weeks. In the hip inner-northern suburb of Brunswick.
- Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix (changeable, usually mid-March) – Part of the world’s premier car racing schedule. Held along converted public roads within Albert Park in southern Melbourne.
- Easter (changeable, March/April) – Australians love public holidays and as the locals like to say, “This is a cracker.” Most shops, offices, tourist attractions, and even pubs close on Good Friday, while plenty of amenities and places of interest may shut for 4 days. Basic tourist facilities will remain open over Easter but public transport will be very limited.
- Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (changeable, throughout March) – Boasting more than 250 events over 17 days across the city and state, this is one of the world’s finest and longest-running food and wine festivals. Especially vibrant along Melbourne’s many inner-city lanes.
- Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (changeable, late March) – For 5 days at the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. This is the largest such show in the Southern Hemisphere. Abundant displays as well as workshops, entertainment, and competitions.
- Football (March to September) – Most Melburnians are sports-mad and many are obsessed with the country’s unique code, Australian Rules Football, and the nationwide AFL competition. Up to 3 games each weekend at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and/or stadium at Docklands. At the same time, countrywide competitions in soccer, rugby union, and rugby league are also held.
Melbourne Events in April
- Melbourne International Comedy Festival (changeable, late March to mid-April) – About 3 weeks of stand-up, theater, and cabaret. Well-regarded and much fun for all. At numerous venues across the city and suburbs, and tickets are often inexpensive.
- Anzac Day (25th) – Sombre commemoration of Australian history, with memorial services held at dawn followed by a military parade through the city streets. Public holiday if not on a weekend.
Melbourne Events in May
- Dog Lovers Show Melbourne (changeable, early May) – Must-do for lovers of all things canine. Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the first weekend of the month.
- Melbourne Knowledge Week (changeable, mid-May) – All sorts of exhibits, lectures, and events for 1 week at various places. Intriguing for all, with a real focus on engaging activities for children.
- Good Beer Week (changeable, mid-May) – Lovers of ales, lagers, and stouts congregate for a drink or 3 of locally-crafted products. More than 300 events across the city and state for 10 days.
- Rising Arts Festival (May/June) – Three weeks of music, circus, dance, theater, and visual arts at numerous venues across the city and state. Some events are free and many are suitable for families.
Melbourne Events in June
- Melbourne International Jazz Festival (changeable, early June) – Ten days of concerts by world-class bands and artists relished by toe-tapping fans. In various clubs and even outdoors (despite the wintry weather).
- St Kilda Film Festival (changeable, late June) – Screening of movies and documentaries not normally seen in mainstream cinemas. World-class event for over 10 days.
- Docklands Firelight Festival (changeable, late June/early July) – Dozens of free multicultural performances around Docklands on the western edge of the city center. Three days of fireworks, food stalls, live music, and light shows.
Melbourne Events in July
- Melbourne International Film Festival (changeable, late July/early August) – Film buffs congregate as hundreds of innovative movies and documentaries are shown at venues across Melbourne. Also, workshops, lectures, and parties for about 3 weeks.
- Open House Melbourne (changeable, late July) – Over 900 buildings across the city center, suburbs, and state are opened to the public. Guided tours and talks about heritage and architecture on the last weekend of the month.
Melbourne Events in August
- The Melbourne Fair (changeable, early August) – City’s largest congregation of buyers and sellers of crafts, books, furniture, jewelry, fashion, and antiques. Caulfield Racecourse on (usually) the second Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the month.
- Melbourne Fashion Week (changeable, late August to early September) – Week-long extravaganza featuring 150 events celebrating the finest fashions from across the country.
- Melbourne Writers Festival (changeable, late August/early September) – Long-established and world-famous. Ten days of talks and workshops by renowned authors as well as book-signings, lectures, and stalls.
Melbourne Events in September
- Football Finals (throughout September) – Time of hope (or despair) for many locals during the business end of the nationwide Australian Football League (AFL) competition. Grand Final on the last Saturday of September is always at the 100,000-seat MCG stadium in East Melbourne. A street parade and public holiday the day before.
- Melbourne Fringe Festival (mid-late September) – Quirky and unusual shows, concerts, and plays rarely seen elsewhere. For over 2 weeks at many venues.
- Royal Melbourne Show (changeable, late September to early October) – Two weeks of rides, animal displays, music, and sticky sweets. At dedicated showgrounds in the northwest suburbs. Heaps of fun for families.
Melbourne Events in October
- Oktoberfest (changeable, mid-late October) – Drink, eat, and drink some more during these beer festivals, also celebrated across the planet. Two competing events: at Melbourne Showgrounds and a week later on the foreshore at St Kilda.
- Melbourne Italian Festa (changeable, late October) – Celebrating Italy and one of the largest ethnic groups in this multicultural city. Expect lots of music, fun, and pizzas. On a Sunday in the inner-northern suburb of Carlton.
Melbourne Events in November
- Melbourne Cup (changeable, first Tuesday of November) – The city (and most of the country) almost literally stops for at least 3 minutes for this horse race, which is on a public holiday. One of several during the week-long Spring Carnival in early November.
- Melbourne Music Week (changeable, mid-November) – Ten days of concerts with music – new, old, and multicultural – all over the city center.
Melbourne Events in December
- Carols by Candlelight (24th) – Renowned family event on Christmas Eve. Plenty of music and singing at the Sydney Myer Music Bowl in the Kings Domain parklands in South Melbourne.
- Christmas Day (25th) – Public holiday celebrated widely, Christian or not. Almost everything is closed (often by law) including shops, bars, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Basic tourist facilities such as hotels still operate, but public transport is almost non-existent and even taxis are hard to find.
- Boxing Day (26th) – Another public holiday as the city recovers from the day before. Some go shopping, others flock to the cricket match (see below).
- Post-Christmas Sales (from 26th) – For anyone with any money left over, major stores offer substantial discounts for several days. Crowds can be overwhelming as shopaholics line up for hours before the doors open.
- Cricket (26th to 30th) – The second-largest cricket stadium on earth attracts up to 100,000 on Boxing Day for the Boxing Day Test Match. The game can play across all 5 days (and still not get a result).
- New Year’s Eve (31st) – Plenty of concerts and events throughout Melbourne and fireworks at midnight in the city center.
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