Wrap yourself in Melbourne black as the temperature cools and the nights grow longer. Fires roar in pubs 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 AFL team at the MCG. 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 Night Market

When the sun goes down, things warm up at the annual Queen Victoria Winter Night Market. Join the bustle of fun-loving local gourmands for global street food, festival bars with tipples from artisan distillers and brewers, hot beverages, warming fire pits, live tunes, entertainment and a heap of easy-going cheer. Bring your appetite and a lively spirit, and explore the market festivities beneath the illuminated open-air market sheds. The Winter Night Market pops up at Queen Victoria Market every Wednesday after dark from 1 June to 31 August 2022.

2. Winter art masterpieces

Explore the much-anticipated Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibitions. NGV International presents The Picasso Century, a world-premiere bringing together more than 70 works by Picasso. Trace unique and experimental works through the artist's famous Blue Period into cubism and surrealism, and discover pieces by his contemporaries, including Georges Braque, Henri Matisse and Salvador Dalí.

ACMI is set to brighten up winter with Light: Works from Tate's Collection. This exclusive major exhibition curated by London's Tate Modern museum presents transformative light-focused art works across 200 years, with luminous works from JMW Turner, Wassily Kandinsky and Camille Pissarro alongside modern works by Olafur Eliasson, James Turrell and Liliane Lijn.

3. Winter 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 best 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 and women of soccer, rugby league and rugby union (international Super Rugby) on the field at AAMI stadium throughout the cooler months, and netball matches at John Cain Arena. On the field and on the court, the vibe is pure Melbourne. Fun for all the family.

4. Pop culture

Dive into alternative worlds, superheroes, fantasy and pop culture at comic book stores around Melbourne. Sift through the latest single issues and graphic novels, catch up on affordable back issues and seek out collector's items. Pop culture megastore Minotaur in the city, off-the radar comic cave Evil Empire in Coburg, and neighbourhood comic store Comics 'R' Us in Windsor are just a few great places to start.

Gather a group for a social games session: set up at Marche boardgame cafe for an afternoon of dumplings, cha and your choice of more than 100 games. Or try The Noble Experiment and mix your games boards with cheese boards and cocktails.

5. Live music

Winter sounds fine in Australia's live music capital as 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.

Head to neighbourhood pubs for cosy afternoon tunes and high-energy headliners on the weekends – try the Retreat and Brunswick Ballroom in Brunswick, the Northcote Social Club in Northcote and the Espy in St Kilda. Step out mid-week for innovative syncopation at the JazzLab or the Paris Cat. Book for big gigs and touring acts at the Corner Hotel, the Forum and the Arts Centre.

6. Pub meals

Parmas, pots, chips and burgers. With an endless supply of nourishing carbs, pubs do winter well in Melbourne. It's all those open fires, and dark wood that's warm to touch, gleaming in lamp light. When the chill sets in, head for cosy comfort over lazy roast lunches and sociable evening meals. Menus range from hearty classic fare to meals with gastronomic flare. Find pub classics and bay views at The Espy. Vegetarian pub grub at the Green Man's Arms. Gastro pub fare at Marquis of Lorne, the Napier, The Lincoln and the Grace Darling. Pull up at the bar, or say cheers in heated beer gardens. Catch the game on the corner screen, fuel up before a gig or shoot a game of pool between rounds.

7. Cobbestones & laneways

Melbourne's iconic lanes are the perfect place to tuck yourself in against 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, browsing jewellery and design at Craft and e.g.etal.

Pop into top laneway tables at Movida, Tonka and Tres a Cinco, and discover a new favourite cocktail at Arlechin, Juliet, and Nick and Nora's. Don’t forget dumplings and spicy bowls in Chinatown, wine and share plates at Embla and stalwart Double Happiness for a night cap on Liverpool Street.

8. Coffee

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 with friends 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 Black, St Ali, Dukes, 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. 

9. Fashion

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 Kuwaii, Obus and Alpha60 in addition to big-name international designs at glittering malls such as Emporium, St. Collins Lane and 80 Collins.