The best things to see and do in Melbourne in April
By Nell Geraets
Among the acts to see in Melbourne this month are Lucinda Williams, Mary Poppins, Amy Shark, Marcia Hines in Velvet Rewired and Elvis Costello.
Though March stands out as Melbourne’s “mad month”, things certainly do not grind to a halt in April. From disco circuses to rhythm and blues, this city is filled to the brim with variety.
Whether you’re looking for family-friendly ways to spend the school holidays or craving weekend events to punctuate a long workweek, The Age has you covered. Here is a list of festivals, art exhibitions, concerts, literary events, musicals, and more, to keep you entertained this month.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Various locations | Until April 23 | Ticket prices vary
Nothing tickles the funny bone quite like Melbourne’s annual comedy festival – one of the three largest comedy festivals in the world. Both amateur and veteran performers from around the globe descend upon Melbourne to garner the biggest laugh through stand-up, cabaret, theatre, street performance, film, television, radio and visual arts. This year brings local talent such as Geraldine Hickey and international flair from Arj Barker and Chloe Petts.
Bec Petraitis, Hannah Gadsby, and Elyce Phillips have helped kick off the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Sidney Myer Music Bowl & King’s Domain | April 15 | Tickets from $175
Beginning on the beaches of Miami, this outdoor electronic music festival made its way over to Melbourne in 2018 to celebrate some of the most iconic DJs, producers and live acts from home and abroad. Headlining acts this year include British DJ Darren Styles, Deborah De Luca and Dutch DJ Hardwell, as well as supporting acts from Acraze and Solarstone.
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre | April 8 – 9 | Tickets from $274.20
The award-winning Byron Bay blues and roots music festival is making its way to Melbourne for the first time this year. Held on the banks of the Yarra River, it will showcase blues icons from around the world such as Steve Earle, Buddy Guy, The Doobie Brothers and Greensky Bluegrass. Grab some grub and something to drink while you enjoy the rhythms from multiple stages in Melbourne’s first decked-out Blues precinct.
Williams and Steve Earle at Byron Bay Bluesfest in 2012.Credit:Edwina Pickles
Melbourne Showgrounds | April 22 – 23 | Tickets from $42.50
Whether you love Supernatural or Winnie the Pooh, Supernova has it all. This comics and gaming convention will be a feast for the senses, packed with cosplay competitions, gaming activities, celebrity panels, sketch-offs and more. Don’t miss some of the featured stars, including, Neil Fanning (Scooby-Doo), Karl Urban (Star Trek), Katie Cassidy (Arrow) and Australian icon John Jarratt (Wolf Creek).
Groovin’ the Moo
Bendigo | April 29 | Tickets from $137
Slap on your gumboots and some glitter, and get ready to rock out in the paddocks of Australia’s beloved regional music festival. Held at Bendigo’s Prince of Wales Showgrounds and hosted by DJ Lex and producer Pookie, major names like Amy Shark, the UK’s Alt-J and Genesis Owusu will grace this groovy stage.
Amy Shark will perform at Groovin’ the Moo this year.Credit:Louie Douvis
Kids Day Out
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre | April 7 | Free
Searching for something to do with the kids in the lead-up to Easter? The Good Friday Appeal brings you a day jam-packed with activities, all in the spirit of raising funds for the sick. The kids can learn to boogie in dance workshops, get their teddy bears tested by a teddy bear doctor, have their face painted and jump sky-high on the giant inflatables. It’s free to enter, but some activities will incur a cost.
South Asian Festival
Birrarung Marr | April 29 – 30 | Free
Through songs, traditional dance, stage performances and food vans, the New Year of South Asian countries will be celebrated with gusto.
Kids can jump aboard the various carnival rides while parents wander the various community stalls showcasing traditional jewellery, clothing and crafts. Don’t miss the ceremonial parade and fireworks display that top off the event.
French Film Festival
Various locations | Until April 5 | Check program for ticket prices
Now in its 34th year, the Alliance Française French Film Festival is one of Melbourne’s most popular cinema events. Discover a new school of emerging French talent, including newcomer Paul Kircher’s performance in Winter Boy, Céline Devaux’s directorial debut in the wickedly funny Everybody Loves Jeanne, and the 2023 Oscar contender for Best International Feature (France) Saint Omer from filmmaker Alice Diop, featuring Kayije Kagame.
Forum Melbourne | April 7 – 23 | Tickets from $47
What would a circus be without comedy, acrobatics, flying trapeze, juggling and clowns? Circus Oz has it all, with dazzling costumes and gob-smacking daredevil stunts to boot. Directed by Nicci Wilks, this extravaganza has toured Australia and beyond, bringing old-school circus combined with contemporary flair to audiences of all ages.
Warner Bros. Discovery: Bugs Bunny at the Symphony
Hamer Hall | April 28 – 29 | Tickets from $65
What’s better than watching your favourite cartoons? Watching cartoons alongside an incredible live orchestra. Conducted by Emmy Award winner George Daugherty, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will play the score for over a dozen classic Looney Tunes cartoons, including What’s Opera, Doc?, The Rabbit of Seville, Baton Bunny, Corny Concerto. Bring the kids along for a musical evening featuring none other than Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the Aussie favourite: Taz, the Tasmanian Devil.
Looney Tunes cartoons will be brought to life by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Mozart Requiem by Candlelight
St Paul’s Cathedral | April 15 | Tickets from $28
Three of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most famous works will be brought to life in the grand setting of St Paul’s Cathedral, as candles illuminate its stately walls. The talented Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra will bring you Requiem in D minor, Symphony No. 25 in G minor and the Ave Verum Corpus motet, all conducted by the renowned Andrew Wailes.
FRAME: A biennial of dance
Various venues | Until April 2 | Ticket prices vary
A new pilot festival for Melbourne, this biennial of dance continues in April and features a stunning array of performances, plus talks, workshops, film and public programs. The inaugural FRAME offers a program featuring works by Arts House, Bunjil Place, Chunky Move, Dancehouse and more. FRAME represents dance artists across all forms, practices, cultures, histories, disciplines, aesthetics, and experimentations.
Atlanta Eke is revisiting 2014’s Body of Work for FRAME: A biennial of dance.
Her Majesty’s Theatre | 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.
Stefanie Jones as Mary Poppins in the stage production at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne.Credit:Wayne Taylor
Regent Theatre | Until May 14 | Tickets from $75
Award-winning jukebox musical & Juliet unravels what could have been in the classical Shakespearean tale. Specifically, what if Juliet found Romeo dead, but decided to spare herself instead? Indigenous star Lorinda May Merrypor leads the Australian version of the Broadway hit.
Lorinda May Merrypor (Juliet) sings Katy Perry’s hit Roar in the stage show & Juliet.Credit:Eddie Jim
Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion
Federation Square | April 5 to October 1 | Tickets from $25
What do Mae West, Geena Davis and Michelle Yeoh all have in common? They’re trailblazing women who have unapologetically claimed their own space, set industry standards and exuded creativity. The Goddess exhibition honours the stories, careers and achievements of these figures (and many more) by sharing original sketches, never-before-seen costumes and interactive experiences.
Flinders Street Station | Until April 23 | Tickets only through Tixel
Described as “finding the friction point between beauty and decay”, the work of street artist Rone has seen the long-abandoned third level of Flinders Street Station transformed. Across twelve installations, Rone and his team have created an immersive experience that honours mid-century Melbourne and one of the city’s biggest icons. This is your last chance to snatch some tickets from the resale partner, Tixel, before it comes to an end later this month.
Artist Rone and his installation TIME above Flinders Street Station.Credit:Arsineh Houspian
Callum Morton: Inside Out
Melbourne | Until April 15 | Free
EastLink Hotel sculptor Callum Morton has a new 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.
Various locations | Until August 22, 2024 | Free
AC/DC Lane, Tattersalls Lane, Hosier Lane – Melbourne is known for its boldly graffitied laneways. Flash Forward sets about emphasising this feature of the city, bringing to light some of the lesser known lanes and up-and-coming artists. Over 80 creatives will showcase lighting, music, and creative installations along 40 laneways, all of which will be original work and entirely free to see.
The Evans Lane work for Flash Forward by Puzle.Credit:Puzle / City of Melbourne
Sidney Myer Music Bowl | April 28 | Tickets from $119.90
The man who brought Praise You and Right Here, Right Now into this world is taking the Melbourne stage in one of the most anticipated tours of the year. Joined by special guests Confidence Man and Anna Lunoe, Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, is sure to cover many of the chart-topping hits that helped define modern dance music.
Fatboy Slim is coming to Melbourne this April.Credit:Rick Clifford
Rod Laver Arena | April 11 – 12 | Tickets from $89.90
For the first time in three years, British indie rock band The 1975 are heading to Melbourne in light of their upcoming album Being Funny In A Foreign Language. New music by the four-time Brit Award winners is bound to make up the heft of their lineup, with favourites like Robbers and It’s Not Living peppered throughout.
Melbourne Public | April 6 | Tickets from $54.30
Melbourne’s own Rogue Traders are bringing their rock riffs and cutting-edge house style home. With six top-ten hits and multiple platinum selling albums, including Here Come The Drums, the band is guaranteed to offer a night of nostalgia, Voodoo Children and Candy Coloured Lights.
Palais Theatre | April 13 | Tickets from $120
After crooning through Bluesfest, Costello will be making his way to the Palais Theatre for a one-off performance alongside backing band The Imposters. Known for extending the lyrical range of the pop and new wave movements, Costello’s range is sure to impress as he spans a discography covering rock, punk, power pop and new wave.
Elvis Costello will play at Palais Theatre in a one-off show.Credit:Mark Seliger.
Forum Theatre | April 24 | Tickets from $64.90
You never know what to expect when you see Canadian rapper bbno$ do his thing on stage – it could be crowd-surfing, handing a random book to someone in the audience or dancing with a broccoli mascot. Whatever it ends up being, he is sure to entertain. bbno$ is treating Australia to his biggest headline tour to date, celebrating his latest album ‘Bag or Die’.
Malthouse Outdoor Stage
Malthouse Theatre | Until April 20 | Ticket prices vary
Enjoy a live show in the open-air, custom-built amphitheatre situated in the heart of one of Melbourne’s art precincts. Since its premier in 2021, the Outdoor Stage has boasted music, dance, comedy, workshops, talks, and theatre both day and night. If previous performers are anything to go by, including Mildlife, Kaiit and Jude Perl, it’s certain to offer a smorgasbord of Australian talent and stories.
The Malthouse Outdoor Stage.Credit:Eddie Jim
Ferruccio Furlanetto in Concert
Melbourne Recital Centre | April 22 | Tickets from $49
Known in Melbourne for once embodying the extravagant Don Quichotte, Furlanetto is returning to the stage as himself, one of the greatest bassists of all time. Having performed in a number of operas worldwide over five decades, he will showcase his extensive range and impressive vocal power through arias from the likes of The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Boris Godunov and Don Carlo.
Athenaeum Theatre | April 26 – May 6 | Tickets from $35
If you feel there aren’t enough roller-skates, sequins, or contortionists in your life, then Velvet Rewired will send you to boogie wonderland. Born out of the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2015, this disco, dance and circus show returns bigger than ever, featuring the ARIA Hall of Fame’s Marcia Hines and director Craig Ilott. The glitzy costumes, powerful vocals and acrobatic stunts will send you right back to a 1980s nightclub.
Marcia Hines will lead Velvet Rewired in Melbourne.Credit:Getty
Arts Centre Melbourne | April 27 – May 14 | Tickets from $45
“Out damned spot!” One of Shakespeare’s most evocative plays will be performed at the Arts Centre this month. With Logie award-winner Hazem Shammas as Macbeth and Jessica Tovey (The Merchant of Venice) as Lady Macbeth, the play will delve into the darkest parts of humanity, the dangers of moral collapse, and the implications of greed.
Southbank Theatre | Until April 15 | Tickets from $49
Anyone who witnessed Kate Mulvany mastering the stage as Richard III for Bell Shakespeare will be intrigued to see what she makes of Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet. The idea of a woman playing Hamlet never seemed scandalous to Sarah Bernhardt, who made the role her own a century before gender-blind casting became commonplace. Rebeck’s playful engagement with theatre history presents the kind of juicy histrionic challenge Mulvany thrives upon.
Kate Mulvany takes on the role of Sarah Bernhardt.Credit:Pia Johnson
Alexis Wright at Montalto: The Wheeler Centre
Montalto | April 27 | Tickets from $120 (including lunch)
Settling down with a glass of wine and a good book – there isn’t much better… Unless it’s done in the company of an award-winning author amid the sweeping scenery of a Red Hill winery. Alongside a shared lunch, Alexis Wright invites you to share in conversation about her upcoming book, Praiseworthy – an examination of climate disaster and oppression – and her history of activism through writing.
There are moments of exhilaration and epiphany in Alexis Wright’s new novel, Praiseworthy.Credit:Justin McManus
Professor Brian Greene’s The Twilight of Time: A Cosmic Journey to Eternity
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre | April 3 | Tickets from $75.90
Where do we fit into the history of time? What does the future of the universe look like? These are but a few questions renowned US professor and author Brian Greene will explore in his upcoming tour. Known for his groundbreaking discoveries in superstring theory and novels like The Elegant Universe, Greene will bring you on a journey of cosmic proportions, examining the novelty of our existence and what lies beyond.
Pentridge Prison Tours
Coburg | April 3 to December 31 | Tickets from $35
Explore this heritage-listed prison in ways it has never been explored before. Audiovisual tours using first-hand accounts from inmates and prison officers will guide you through various divisions of the prison, including the notorious H or “Hell” Division. The stories of bushranger Ned Kelly, armed robber Mark “Chopper” Read and Shantaram author Gregory David Roberts will fill your imagination, as the prison’s brutal history from 1851 to its closure in 1997 is unfolded.
Tour operator Robert Kercher at Pentridge Prison. Credit:Jason South
Submerged: Sea Life Melbourne
Sea Life Aquarium | Until December 15 | Tickets from $37.60
For the kids itching to see something otherworldly during the school holidays, arrange a visit to Melbourne’s Sea Life aquarium where an interactive digital oceanic experience awaits. It offers a moonlit dive into the life of the bioluminescent firefly squid and glowing jellyfish while the Oceanarium undergoes upgrades. Submerged is included in the price of admission to the aquarium.
Run the Tan
Pillars of Wisdom, Tan track | April 30 | Register online from $45
Circling the luscious Melbourne Botanical Gardens, the Tan Track has become almost as iconic as Fed Square or the City Loop tram. Since 2019, Run the Tan has invited runners of all abilities to celebrate the iconic track and promote the positive impact running can have on mental and physical wellbeing. Get your runners on and join this energised 3.8 kilometre group run.
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