From the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year to the world’s only F1 Grand Prix that is raced around a lake, Melbourne lives up to its reputation as one of the world’s best sporting cities.
The sporting action is even hotter than usual this year, with the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground hosting the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, as well as blockbuster matches including Australia versus England and India versus South Africa.
From February 14, Melbourne takes a lead role in this flagship international cricket event, which features an incredible 49 matches over 44 days in 14 cities throughout Australia and New Zealand. The final will be held on March 29 on the hallowed turf of the MCG, Australia’s largest and most popular sporting venue.
Soccer fans are in for a treat too this summer, as Melbourne welcomes teams from Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Bahrain, Japan, Palestine and Jordan for the AFC AsianFootball Cup 2015. The high-tech Melbourne Rectangular Stadium will be the setting for the very first match of the tournament, when Australia takes on Kuwait on January 9.
Melbourne’s annual summer sporting events continue to attract visitors to the city in droves. The Australian Open kicks off the international tennis circuit from January 19 to February 1, with more than 600,000 people expected through the gates – the second-highest attendance figures in the world.
A multi-million dollar revamp of Margaret Court Arena means the 2015 event will be fully “weatherproofed” for the first time, with a third retractable roof being installed at Melbourne Park. The Australian Open is the only Grand Slam in the world with such facilities.
In March, the Formula 1™ Australian Grand Prix celebrates 20 years of high-octane thrills at Albert Park Lake,as the world’s best drivers descend on Melbourne for the opening round of the 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship. Aussie fans will no doubt be cheering on homegrown hero Daniel Ricciardo, as he takes on the likes of Briton Lewis Hamilton and Germany’s Nico Rosberg.
As well as all the thrilling racing action, the Grand Prix also boasts top-notch entertainment, including live music from great Australian bands. With the chic bayside precinct of St Kilda only minutes away, motorsports fans have dozens of bars, eateries and music venues to choose from off the track, too.
Melbourne is one of the only cities in the world to boast so many world-class sporting venues right on the doorstep of the city centre, which means visitors can enjoy a post-match meal, drink, dance or show with ease.
From the MCG, Melbourne Park and Melbourne Rectangular Stadium it’s just a short stroll along the banks of the Yarra River to Federation Square, the Southbank arts precinct of Hamer Hall, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Recital Centre, and the myriad laneways packed with cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs.
Several arts festivals and theatre shows over summer coincide with major sporting events, revealing Melbourne’s other personality as a culture vulture’s hotspot.
From January 16, the new five-week SummerSalt Festival will activate the whole of Southbank with free or low-cost live music, dance, installations, circus acts and theatre.
White Night Melbourne on February 21 is the only all-night cultural festival in Australia, with more than half a million people celebrating in the city from 7pm to 7am. Set against a backdrop of awesome cityscape projections, local and international artists will reveal a cornucopia of art installations, live music, dance, design, film, sport and theatre performances.
For theatre lovers, the summer season includes The Lion King, Grease and Strictly Ballroom, while Melbourne’s fashion-forward shopping scene – from offbeat boutiques to glitzy department stores – offers something for everyone.