Victorian’s appear to be sport mad and this is very much reflected in Melbourne’s crammed sporting calendar. If you enjoy the races, love cricket, have a passion for AFL, play tennis or get a thrill out of Formula 1, planning short breaks in Melbourne to coincide with a sporting festival is a must.
Just remember that all of the events outlined below are extremely popular and some of them fall at peak times of year – such as cricket’s Boxing Day Test. If you would like to plan you Melbourne visit around a sporting occasion, make sure that you book both your tickets to that event and your accommodation well in advance as you’ll find that hotels, apartments and even holiday rentals are snapped up quickly around these boom times.
Spring Racing Carnival – the weather is notoriously unpredictable, but that doesn’t stop the excitement at Flemington Race Course in November. The main draw card is ‘the race that stops the nation’, the Melbourne Cup and it really is an opportunity to get glammed up and hope to get picked for ‘the Fashion in the Field’. Though the Melbourne Cup is the most famous race, the entire week is full of fun with Derby Day and Ladies Day other stand outs. Sometimes it seems as if the entire city is at the Races.
Cricket – the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is an iconic sporting venue and though it is used for cricket, AFL and various corporate events all year round one of its biggest days is the Boxing Day Test, where the Australian cricket team traditionally play a touring side. Cricket at the MCG is unlike cricket anywhere else in the country, with the size of the stadium itself making it a unique destination for fans of the bat and ball game. And when the sun comes out and the crowds sizzle it has an atmosphere all of its own.
AFL Grand Final –AFL -Australian Rules Football- is arguably our national sport and whether you barrack for the Sydney Swans, West Coast Eagles, Adelaide Crows or a local side like Collingwood or Essendon, the last weekend in September is the one to book a Melbourne hotel, pull on your team colours and go football mad. The MCG absolutely hums when it is filled to capacity on Grand Final Day, but it’s a superb place to watch the footy anytime a big crowd is expected.
Australian Grand Prix – For a while now the Australian Grand Prix has, in effect, been the Melbourne Grand Prix, with the city hosting the Formula 1 teams for one of the biggest and most exhilarating dates in the national sporting diary. One of the fabulous things about the Australian Grand Prix is that it is held at Albert Park, a thriving suburb close to heart of Melbourne, rather than out in the middle of nowhere. The action starts on the Thursday, but for many the real focus is the Saturday and Sunday making it perfect for a car-themed weekend away.
Australian Open Tennis Championships
The first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year, the Australian Open takes over Melbourne Park for the last 2 weeks of January and everyone in the city goes tennis mad for a fortnight. The seeded matches held in the Rod Laver Arena are the showcase games, and tickets for the Men’s and Women’s Final on the last weekend are like gold dust, but even if you don’t have the best seats in the house, arranging a Melbourne getaway around the Australian Open is a fabulous way to combine sport and this beautiful city.