Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Melbourne – a Winter Wonderland of Cultural Delights

Melbourne will billow its cultural cape again this winter with a show-stopping line up of inspiring international exhibitions, theatre productions and musical spectaculars, festivals, events and cultural delights.

Reinforcing its reputation as a leading cultural destination, Melbourne will host two of the country’s largest exhibitions as part of this year’s eagerly anticipated Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series, one of the biggest events on the Australian arts calendar.

In a Melbourne exclusive, European Masters: Städel Museum, 19th-20th Century brings to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International) more than 100 works from 70 of the world’s most influential artistic luminaries, including Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Degas and Picasso, as well as some – such as Munch, Beckmann and Klinger – whose work is rarely seen in Australia. Opening on June 19, this is the first time this extraordinary collection from Frankfurt’s Städel Museum is to be displayed outside Europe giving Australian audiences a rare opportunity to engage with truly revolutionary examples of modern art from seven of Europe’s major art movements.

In a second artistic coup, Tim Burton: The Exhibition will open at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on June 24, coming direct from New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Inviting visitors to step into Burton’s magical worlds and experience an unprecedented glimpse into the fanciful mind of the auteur, whose vision has been admired in movies including Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Sweeny Todd and more recently Alice in Wonderland, the retrospective showcases 700 examples of rare and never-before-seen photographs, paintings, drawings, puppets, storyboards and costumes as well as short films and animations. ACMI will have public lectures and a 10-day film festival screening concurrently with the exhibition in July.

Further magic is to be enjoyed on Melbourne’s stages this winter. Theatregoers will be spoilt for choice with a whole troupe of mesmerising musicals at Melbourne’s historic theatres.

The young and young at heart will be treated to a ‘spoon full of sugar’ with the latest blockbuster show from Disney and Cameron Mackintosh: Mary Poppins, which takes centre stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre from July 29. The Australian debut of this Broadway and West End stage spectacular that has already won the hearts of audiences worldwide brings together an all-star cast (including Marina Prior, Debra Byrne and Verity Hunt-Ballard) and a joyous mix of singalong songs from the much-loved 1964 Disney film.

Elsewhere 1950s street gangs, ‘80s leg-warmers and sixties-style beehive hair-do’s will take to the stage for popular musical classics Fame – The Musical (Regent Theatre), West Side Story (Regent Theatre) and Hairspray (Princess Theatre).

Film buffs will be able to indulge in a feast of over 300 fabulous films from over 50 countries over 18 days, plus an array of forums and panel discussions with film-makers, thanks to the Melbourne International Film Festival (22 July – 8 August).

Meanwhile, design aficionados can take delight in more than 75 design delicious events throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria as part of the State of Design Festival’s comprehensive program of awards, exhibitions, forums, workshops and markets (14-25 July).

Art hounds can find further inspiration in a broad selection of other exhibitions and events including Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition at Melbourne Museum (14 May – 17 October), Melbourne Art Week (2-8 August), the Melbourne Art Fair (4-8 August) and endless artistic gems, commercial galleries and inspiring initiatives throughout the city and state.

Sports fanatics won’t be left on the bench either with a heart-thumping series of on-field action including the Bledisloe Cup (July 31), Four Nations England vs Australia clash at Melbourne’s new AAMI Park on October 31, the 2010 UCI World Road Championships (29 September – 3 October), Phillip Island’s MotoGP (15-17 October) plus Aussie Rules, A-League soccer and NRL games galore.

Winter is also the ideal time to explore Melbourne’s myriad of lanes and arcades for all manner of hidden treasures: edgy clothes labels, eclectic jewellery, one-off homewares, tucked away cafes and underground bars.

With so much to see and do, tours are a great, time-efficient way to explore Melbourne’s attractions and landmarks, accompanied by a passionate local expert. Some options include:
• Hidden Secrets Tours – including Lanes and Arcades Tour
• Walk to Art walking tour
• Diggin’ Melbourne – a self guided tour for vinyl record lovers
• Photography Made Easy walking tours
• Melbourne Shopping Tour – tailored luxury, chauffeured shopping tours
• Melbourne Sports Tours – including new Fame & Glory Tour

Lose yourself in Melbourne during the cooler months and you’ll find there’s no time for winter blues.

For more information about Melbourne in winter, go to

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