Beds, burgers, a bar and a big screen, on the beach.

Beds, burgers, a bar and a big screen, on the beach.

Sunset Sounds, City of Stonnington, Saturdays 5-8pm, from January 5. Free

As if picnicking outdoors on a beautiful day weren’t great enough, City of Stonnington’s free outdoor concert series returns to the parklands. Sunset Sounds brings hip-hop artist Billy Davis & the Good Lords to Prahran’s Victoria Gardens on January 5; folk-pop collective The Northern Folk head to Malvern East’s Central Park on January 12; and soul vocalist Emma Donovan plays Malvern Gardens on January 19. There will also be DJs and food trucks. In February, hear opera, classical music and Broadway tunes with The Classics series.

Mucho relaxo at City of Stonnington's Sunset Sounds.

Mucho relaxo at City of Stonnington’s Sunset Sounds.

MPavilion summer program, from January 7. Free

The pop-up pavilion across the road from NGV International has a great range of free events for children and adults alike. Kids can build their own plaground; create a pet rock or botanical GIFs, mobiles and animals out of plants; learn circus arts, flower pressing or how to plant seeds; or explore the wonders of nature with Bug Blitz. The broader program is huge: it has everything from meditation and yoga to live music, workshops, talks and more. There’s even a Climate Emergency Cinema powered entirely by people riding bikes. Did we mention it’s all free? (Bookings recommended.)

Make a pet rock with Beci Orpin at MPavilion.

Make a pet rock with Beci Orpin at MPavilion.

NGV Kids Summer Festival, 10am-3pm daily, January 11-19. Free

In addition to the “Playtime” section of the KAWS exhibition, NGV International has a swath of activities at its Kids Summer Festival. This year’s theme “make art, make friends” invites families into the Great Hall for art and crafts led by creatives Ghostpatrol, Beci Orpin and Underground Sunday. There are hip-hop workshops, dance parties, free film screenings and more. Teens can do their own thing at Fed Square’s NGV Australia at a workshop with textile designers Home-Work. If you’re hitting the road (or just hangin’ in the ‘burbs) the program is touring regional centres from Ararat to Wodonga, Avondale Heights to Werribee.

Getting busy at NGV Kids Summer Festival.

Getting busy at NGV Kids Summer Festival.

Kids’ summer program, State Library of Victoria, from January 14. Free

The new Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter at the library has  free workshops where kids can create their own characters and stories based on the library collection. Most mornings there are also songs, stories and rhymes for younger ones at Toddler Tunes and Baby Bounce. Bookings required.

The new Pauline Gandel Children's Quarter at the State Library.

The new Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter at the State Library.

Botanica: A Village Among the Oak Trees, Royal Botanic Gardens, 10am-2pm, January 15-18. Free

Build a cubby from all natural materials – palm fronds, bamboo, sticks and leaves – or create characters with clay, pods and seeds at this free event in the beautiful botanic gardens at South Yarra. Cranbourne Gardens also hosts its free Summer Nature Play event each Tuesday in January, inviting kids to build animal habitats and listen to stories.

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