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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Five Melbourne Date Ideas for This Week That Aren't Dinner and a Movie

Just think of us as your cultural wingman.
By Concrete Playground
November 23, 2020
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Five Melbourne Date Ideas for This Week That Aren't Dinner and a Movie

Just think of us as your cultural wingman.
By Concrete Playground
November 23, 2020
  shares

Tired of the classic drink and dinner date night combo? Us too. That's why we're always on the hunt for new things to do, scouring the city for not-boring Melbourne activities — ones that are guaranteed to take your next date way beyond done-before beers at the pub. Whether you're taking someone on a second date or doing your 100th with your significant other, we've got some killer (and, yes, cute) ideas for dates to go on this week, no matter how much money you've got to spend. Just think of us as your cultural wingman. You're welcome.

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FREE

MPavilion 2015 by Amanda Levete, captured by Simon Terrill

BOND OVER A LOVE OF DESIGN WHILE EXPLORING PAST MPAVILION HITS

Each year since 2014, Melbourne's Queen Victoria Gardens has scored an impressive new addition, thanks to MPavilion — a specially commissioned architecturally-designed temporary structure, which pops up to host a summer-long festival of free events. This year, however, the event will activate the six pavilions from previous years rather than build something new. And they're free to explore, popping up all over town from now until March and backed by a design-focused program of talks, workshops, performances and installations, happening both online and IRL.

For example, right now you can take another peek at 2017's inside-outside contemporary take on the ancient amphitheatre by Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten gracing Monash University's Clayton campus, as well as 2016's huge bamboo structure from Indian architect Bijoy Jain in the grounds of Melbourne Zoo. Amanda Levete's forest-esque 2015 piece has also returned, taking up residence in The Docklands.

It's all part of a program that'll contemplate sustainability and architectural reuse. The events lineup is being announced in stages, but it focuses on supporting emerging creatives and designers. Each month will highlight a different theme, too, with November celebrating the power of community and December's spotlight on exploring both physical and virtual social spaces.

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UNDER $50

By Kate Shanasy

ENJOY SKY-HIGH SIPS AND CITY SKYLINE VIEWS FROM THIS SECRET ROOFTOP

Hunting for a sky-high date destination that's destined to impress? One of the more recent city additions is QT Melbourne's secret rooftop garden, which has just reopened for summer.

Dubbed Secret Garden, the space was established as a kitchen garden a while back by an executive chef of QT's Pascale Bar and Grill, but opened to the public for the first time in 2018. Now, the 40-person bar is run in collaboration with Healesville gin experts Four Pillars. So, you can expect exceptional G&Ts, alongside two gin-spiked cocktails: the Spiced Negroni spritz and the Bloody & Lemon, the latter of which is made with Four Pillars' cult-favourite Bloody Shiraz gin. Fancy flexing some creativity? You can also customise your own cocktail, using herbs from the garden to mix with the gin of your choice.

You'll be drinking these surrounded by planters of native river mint, fruit salad sage and blue lilly pillys, while soaking up some romantic views across the city skyline. The bar's open Thursday through Saturday, from 3pm, taking walk-ins only.

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The Queen Vic Market

HEAD ON A MULTICULTURAL FOOD TRUCK ADVENTURE AT THE QVM

It's been eight long months since the Queen Victoria Market's sheds last hosted one of their famed date-night-friendly soirees, with Melbourne's lockdowns hitting pause on the usual roster of weekly night markets and food festivals. But now, the wait is over and the historic site is gearing up to deliver its first post-pandemic nighttime outing. Melbourne, get set to explore the many multicultural delights of the Festive Food Truck Stop.

Kicking off on November 25, and running across four Wednesday nights, the pop-up promises to fill your belly while sating a few of those international travel cravings. Basically, you can treat that special someone to an international food adventure, without leaving Melbourne. A rotation of the city's best-loved food trucks will be slinging their wares — think, goat curry and smashed samosas from Two Fat Indians; Nem N' Nem Viet signatures like noodle bowls and bao buns; and finger-lickin' wings and short ribs cooked low and slow by Bigger Than Texas BBQ.

In true QVM style, the globe-trotting eats will be backed by a great lineup of libations, which you can enjoy while kicking back in The Beer Garden after wandering the food stalls. It's pouring an all-Victorian menu featuring Melbourne Gin Company cocktails, beers by Brick Lane Brewing, Coldstream ciders and a range of vino courtesy of Mitchelton Wines.

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UNDER $100

RELEASE YOUR INNER CHILD IN AN IMMERSIVE FUTURISTIC PLAYGROUND

It's been a long time in lockdown, Melbourne, but, excitingly, events are starting to pop up on the cultural calendar for summer. One of the first is an immersive playground for kidults and children alike taking over The District Docklands from Thursday, November 26 to Sunday, January 31, and offering an interactive, lighthearted daytime date option.
Dubbed Imaginaria, the installation is made up of different structures each filled with lights, sounds, smells and even circus stars. You'll be able to wander through a futuristic light maze, a giant inflatable bubble, an echo cave, a secret garden and across a high beam in a NASA-inspired black hole simulator. The experience has been designed and produced by Loose Collective, which was also behind Fed Square's Sensory Underground.

The hour-long experience is a shoes-off affair and open to all ages. It'll have capacity limits and strict hygiene measures — including mandatory face masks — as many events will this year. Grab your tickets via Ticketmaster.

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VENTURE INTO THE DEEP AT THIS MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR JELLYFISH EXHIBITION

They're perhaps the most mystical of all sea creatures, but you probably haven't had much of a chance to get up close and personal with real-life jellyfish. Well, all that's about to change. Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is shining the spotlight on these ocean enigmas with an interactive new $1.5 million permanent jellyfish exhibition.
Spread across 300 square metres and three multi-sensory zones, and featuring thousands of jellyfish from a range of species, Ocean Invaders has made its home permanently at the aquarium. It's home to a range of exhibitions dedicated to these gelatinous critters — from lighting installations to hands-on activities and mesmerising, colourful displays of living jellyfish. Which of course translates to an entertaining date, filled with plenty of conversation starters.

Here, you can learn the ins and outs of jellyfish, watch them being cared for by Sea Life's ocean experts and even crawl through a cylindrical tank surrounded by them. In another zone, striking light projections lend even more magic to a range of living displays, including one transparent sphere that's packed full of floating creatures.
Species like the blue blubber jellyfish (catostylus mosaicus), the upside-down jellyfish (cassiopea andromeda) and sea nettles (chrysaora melanaster) also feature in the Ocean Invaders collection, which also aims to school visitors on why some jellyfish populations are currently booming across our oceans.

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Top image: Queen Vic Market

Published on November 23, 2020 by Concrete Playground

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