The chilly but chill bit

Wrap yourself in Melbourne black as the temperature cools and the nights grow longer. Fires roar in bars and restaurants around the city and in neighbourhood watering holes. Live stages are just as hot. This is the season for scarves and beanies. To get out and barrack for your favourite sports team, whether they play Australian rules, rugby or basketball. It’s a time for red wine in laneway bars, boutique shopping, and blockbuster art shows under cover. A calendar of cosy events shows off Melbourne at its wintry best.

Here are our picks for Melbourne in winter.

1. Winter art masterpieces

Discover the highly-anticipated Melbourne Winter Masterpieces® Pharaoh Exhibition. NGV International has partnered with the British Museum to bring this monolithic landmark exhibition exclusively to Melbourne as part of this year’s Winter Masterpieces. It features over 500 works celebrating three thousand years of ancient Egyptian art and culture. We’re talking monumental sculpture, architecture, temple statuary, exquisite jewellery, papyri, coffins, a rich array of funerary objects and more.

Other winter arts winners to book for include the immersive Leonardo Da Vinci at THE LUME Melbourne Exhibition, Melbourne's spectacular winter arts celebration, RISING; and Lightscape at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

2. Seasonal sports

Rain, hail, shine, or a little bit of all three – the weather is no barrier for Melbourne's sports fans. Rug up in your club's colours with the rest of the big-cheering scarf-and-beanie-clad footy lovers at a high-energy AFL premiership match. Barrack like a local at the MCG or Marvel Stadium, and fuel up at half-time with the obligatory pie and beer.

The city's not shy about getting behind its other codes either: catch the talented men's and women's rugby league (State of Origin returns to the MCG in June), soccer and rugby union teams (international Super Rugby) on the field at AAMI Park throughout the cooler months; and netball matches at John Cain Arena. July also sees our national basketball teams come together for the Ballin'24 festival, taking on teams from China and Japan in the lead up to the Olympics.  On the field and on the court, the vibe is pure Melbourne. Fun for all the family.

3. Live music

Winter sounds fine in Australia's live music capital. The city keeps the beat with its diverse music scene. Local and international talent perform across Melbourne, with gigs in grand theatres, historic band rooms, beloved pubs and intimate bars. Look for shows from big names to rising stars to nascent talent. Jazz, hip hop, rock, Afro beats, Latin and everything in between.

For cosy afternoon tunes and high-energy headliners on the weekends, try neighbourhood pubs the Retreat and Brunswick Ballroom in Brunswick, Northcote Social Club in Northcote, and the Espy in St Kilda. Step out for rock at iconic Cherry Bar, and innovative syncopation at the Jazzlab or Paris Cat. Book for big gigs and touring acts at the Corner Hotel, the Forum and the Arts Centre.

4. Culinary comforts

Melbourne's top chefs are your best friends in winter, dishing out award-winning creative meals and perfectly crafted local flavours to thrill your taste buds and keep the social hours humming. Convivial gastro pubs with open fires, cosy wine bars and chic fine diners – Melbourne is full of welcoming spaces to escape when the chill sets in.

Sip fine wines and tuck into tasty share plates at the oh-so-chic Marion Wine Bar in Fitzroy. Head underground to Bar Margaux for fabulous French comfort food and one of Melbourne's best burgers. Pop into Little Lon Distillery for a warming glass of handcrafted gin. Or head to Victoria by Farmer's Daughters in Fed Square to indulge in a farm-to-table feast like no other.

5. Cobblestones & laneways

Melbourne's iconic lanes are the perfect place to tuck yourself away in winter. Wind your way from one to another, stopping for piping hot soup and expert coffee at bustling cafes along Centre Place and Degraves Street. Join a walking tour to unearth the best of Melbourne's bluestone cobbled laneways and street art along colourful Hosier Lane. Follow fashion at stores along Flinders Lane and Little Collins Street, browsing jewellery and design at Craft and e.g.etal.

Pop into top laneway tables Movida, San Telmo and Tres a Cinco, and discover a new tipple at Eau de Vie and Nick and Nora's. Don’t miss dumplings at HuTong, wine and share plates at Bar Lourinhã, and a night cap at stalwart Double Happiness on Liverpool Street.

6. Coffee culture

Melbourne's reputation is built upon its love of the bean and the expertise of local baristas in crafting a perfect caffeinated cuppa. Do as locals do and weather dark winter days over lively coffee catch-ups or prop up a table of one's own with a book and a flat white.

Get ready to taste some of the finest brews around Melbourne at Market Lane, Proud Mary, Code BlackDukes, Seven Seeds, Everyday Coffee and the Auction Rooms – for starters. Wherever you go, sample a variety of pour over, batch brew, filter and espresso, and pick up locally roasted beans and some brewing equipment for winning home brews, too.

7. Fashion forward

Melbourne designers excel with style-forward wool knits, leather boots, brightly coloured scarves, gloves, coats and hosiery. Black is staple but far from uniform, with latest trends turning towards vivid colours and bold patterning. Layering is key to the cooler months and locals embrace the art of winter fashion. Find a look that fits you in in the city's many and varied arcades, malls and shopping centres. It's possible to browse and shop through hundreds of labels under cover, keeping dry and warm while hopping between each hub.

Pick up new favourites from Melbourne designers ELK and Alpha60, glorious vintage from Vault, menswear from Masons, and big-name international designs at glittering malls Emporium, 80 Collins and Chadstone.