It’s that time of year when the annual Melbourne International Comedy Festival unleashes comedy and mayhem on stages and venues across the city. So strap in for a fun-filled weekend away in Melbourne town, and enjoy the experience in the heart of the action – from big comedy events to local standup, theatre, cabaret and kids comedy. You might also enjoy a few of the backlane bars and hidden restaurants Melbourne CBD has to offer.
Main events and locations
Held from Wednesday 29 March until 23 April, Melbourne Comedy Festival 2023 will deliver over 600 shows in more than 140 venues, with festival favourites and international names including Urzila Carlson, Daniel Sloss, Daniel Kitson Arj Barker, Melanie Bracewell, Anne Edmonds, Cal Wilson, Claire Hooper, Kitty Flanagan, Ivan Aristeguieta, Lano and Woodley and many more.
This iconic event always starts off with a bang – and 2023 is no exception. Luke McGregor kicks the laughs off early with The Gala, and the official opening event brings the stars back together a week later at the Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow in the Palais Theatre – an extravaganza hosted this year by award-winning standup Hannah Gadsby.
A host of main events also return in 2023, including the 33rd Great Debate at Melbourne Town Hall, a competitive comedy highlight. Comedy Zone Asia also returns to deliver some of its fan favourites in one special show at the Arts Centre Melbourne and Light The Way Home hosts a great lineup of female, non-binary and queer comics at Max Watt’s.
The festival also rolls out a new program of hilarity for the Neighbourhood Sessions. Check out some of the new talent and festival favourites as they hit Melbourne theatres and halls across Dandenong, Footscray, Moorabbin, Broadmeadows, Narre Warren, Williamstown, Thornbury and Rosebud.
There’s also plenty of perfect holiday entertainment in store for the kids this year. Keep the clan busy with kids comedy program, including the Comedy Club for Kids, The Greatest Magic Show, Sean Choolburra’s Didj and Dance, and many more events every weekend of the Festival.
Other fun activities in Melbourne CBD
There are plenty of ways to refresh in the CBD! Perched on the Yarra River, and near Melbourne’s thriving Entertainment Precinct, La Camera is one of the many family-friendly outdoor restaurants in Melbourne. You’ll also find acclaimed and popular restaurants throughout the CBD such as the Middle Eastern-inspired NOMAD, the San Telmo steakhouse and The Hardware Club Italian bar and diner.
For rooftop pubs and cocktail bars in Melbourne, you’re spoiled for choice. Start by taking a look at the Melbourne Union Electric, a cool little cocktail bar just off China Town. On Bourke Street, you’ll find the outdoor rooftop bar Good Heavens open til late. For a great little laneway bar, Lily Black’s brings the golden age of cocktails to life with an intimate and old-world charm.
Satisfy a different appetite at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Explore the expansive imagination of virtuoso designer Alexander McQueen at the popular and acclaimed McQueen exhibition, running until 16 April. The gallery’s vast permanent collection also contains more than 75,000 works.
Melbourne Comedy Festival tickets
You can book your laughs and get your tickets now through the Festival’s website. Depending on where the show you can also through venues and ticketing providers such as Arts Centre Melbourne, Ticketmaster, Ticketek, Trybooking, Eventfinda and Eventbrite.
Where to stay
For a great weekend enjoying the Melbourne Comedy Festival and some of the pleasures the CBD has to offer, why not book a getaway with friends or family from Friday to Sunday? You’ll find plenty of great accommodation options that cater to every taste and need.