Melbourne, Australia: Outdoor Movie Screenings Part of Summer in Your Backyard

It's mid-summer and half of town's still out of town but for those resisting the lure of "down the beach" an oft-overlooked destination is just warming up.

Melbourne city, fresh out of Christmas-new year standby mode and revving gently towards next week's Australian Open, has much to offer suburban day-tripper and out-of-towner alike. Summer sales are in full swing, holiday activities abound, days are long and warm and the living is easy. It's a great time to be a tourist in your own town.

Into the night

The City of Melbourne's splendid sunset concert and dance series in Fitzroy Gardens are great catalysts to bring friends together for a twilight picnic set to free, live music.

The Saturday concert series starts tonight with soul-funksters Pablo Discobar, Custom Kings on January 16, the Snappers on January 23 and Deborah Conway on January 30. Sunday dance sessions have free lessons in shuffle and swing, afro funk, Bollywood and salsa styles, followed by live bands so novices can practice their moves.

Tomorrow night starts with shuffle and swing and continues on Sundays until January 31. Both concert and dance sessions are on 6.30-9.30pm on Fitzroy Gardens' Stage Lawn.

Outdoor cinema makes great use of a warm summer night and the natural amphitheatre of Moonlight Cinema's Royal Botanic Gardens site is the ideal place to indulge.

Films screen every night except Mondays until March 14, with offerings over the next three weeks including Saturday Night Fever, Where the Wild Things Are and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Rooftop Cinema, atop Curtin House on Swanston Street, forgoes a leafy backdrop for a forest of highrises. Casablanca, Footloose and Taxi Driver are among the features.

Back in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Shakespeare Under the Stars celebrates 21 years with nightly performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream from Tuesday to Sunday until the end of January and then Tuesday to Saturday until March 13.

If open-air imbibing is your thing, try the rooftop bars at Madame Brussels or Palmz at the Carlton, both on Bourke Street, or Russell Street's Red Hummingbird. And January's a fine time to revisit those no-bookings city eateries that kept you waiting last year.

Kids' zone

When the saltwater or chlorine begin to pall, take the kids to the city for lunch and one of dozens of holiday activities. Find details of the following events on

For the littlies, Fairy Fanfare puts on fairy-inspired song, dance and acrobatics in the Fitzroy Gardens at 10am and noon each day from January 16 to 31. Birrarung Yarn, at Birrarung Marr on Sundays from January 17 to February 14, brings indigenous culture to children aged three to 12 with dance performances and face painting.

Aspiring Adam Elliots can develop their own animations over two sessions at the ArtPlay Animation Studio in Birrarung Marr, on January 13 and 14, or 21 and 22. The workshop is for eight-year-olds and above and costs $35.

Bringing the beach to town, a crew of international sand "artists" has sculpted a sand installation at Docklands. It's on display from Monday until January 31 and children aged four to 12 can make their own sand carvings at free 30-minute workshops from January 13 to 17. You'll need to book, phone 9658 9658.

And the circus comes to Federation Square, where National Institute of Circus Arts trainers teach basic skills at free workshops on Mondays, noon to 2pm, from January 18 to March 22.


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