Heading to a big city like Melbourne is always a treat, with plenty to see and do whenever you visit. However, you can also make your stay all the more exciting by booking it for the same time as a major festival. There are celebrations all year round here, but only a choice few make it as the pick of the bunch. These are the top 5 festivals that you will want to schedule a visit to Melbourne for!

Melbourne Festival

Taking place in the later part of the year, the Melbourne Festival is a showcase of culture, music, comedy, and entertainment for all to enjoy. There are plenty of free events, though you can also make a donation to show your support, and they range from family friendly to adults only. It lasts for two weeks, so there is plenty of time to see and do everything you want, with many of the shows repeating a few times. You can even catch theatre shows from around the world visiting for this brief period of time. It’s a great way to get an idea of the culture in Melbourne while being treated to some world-class entertainment.

Falls Music and Arts Festival

Commonly known as ‘Falls’, this festival was founded in Melbourne in 1993, and it is still going strong. It was originally just a one day event called ‘Rock Above The Falls’, but has since expanded and now takes place in Byron Bay and Marion Bay as well as Lorne. The type of music played live here spans multiple genres, and features both international and local artists. The stunning natural surroundings here help to explain why the festival is so popular beyond the music, and the campsites are set up with lots of different activities and forms of entertainment too. Artists tend to play at all 3 locations during the course of the festival, so there’s no worries about missing someone you wanted to see.

Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is the most prestigious horse race in Australia, and it forms part of a longer carnival that sees people flocking from around the world to the Flemington Racecourse. Book a hotel ahead of time, as this one is very popular. The race itself may be over sooner than you think, but the excitement lasts all day long, with VIP enclosures the place to be. It’s been held here since 1861, so there is a long tradition – and that brings strict dress codes as well as rules about what you can and can’t do on the day. One thing that is actively encouraged is placing a bet on the winner!

Melbourne Jazz Festival

Jazz is on a serious rise, and the Melbourne Jazz Festival will no doubt be more popular than ever. The festival takes place in June and pays homage to many of the jazz greats, as well as celebrating contemporary musicians from around the world. It is split across a range of venues and works with restaurants in the city which offer a discount to diners enjoying the shows. You can get your tickets ahead of time to avoid missing out on any parts of the programme that you would like to see.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival

If you like a laugh, then this festival is definitely the right place for you to be. It’s one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world, and attracts big names on a global scale. It has now been running for over 30 years, and is comparable to such festivals as the Edinburgh Fringe and Montreal’s Just for Laughs. In other words, they take comedy seriously. You normally have to purchase tickets for each individual show you want to watch, so you can go for a host of unknowns or splurge on one of the more famous guests. These have included Dara O’Briain, David O’Doherty, Jason Byrne, Josie Long, Phil Jupitus, Stephen K Amos, and many more.

No matter what kind of culture you’re into, you can find a festival in Melbourne that celebrates it. And if you’re a foodie, don’t worry – each festival comes complete with its own culinary delights for you to explore as well.