There are two ways to tackle winter: try and beat the chill, or embrace everything that winter brings. A handful of festivals in Melbourne, regional Victoria and interstate are doing just that, shining the light on winter rituals such as open fires, warming whisky, woolly jumpers and rich food that's only right at this time of year.
Rising (June 1-12)
Melbourne's long-awaited winter festival will go ahead in its entirety for the first time this year. Expect out-there art and spectacular takeovers of city spaces, including Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Recast as The Wilds, a fantastical garden of inflatable sculptures with ice-skating and soundscapes, the Bowl also features a bistro helmed by David Moyle, Matt Stone and Jo Barrett, where the trio will champion seafood, ferments, wood-fired rotisserie dishes and more (from $185).
Those who want to roam free can purchase pie floaters from Smith & Daughters, wood-grilled meat and veg from San Telmo or 1800 Lasagne's signature dish. Gelateria Piccolina has crafted three special sundaes for the event, including a pistachio cannolo flavour in honour of 1800 Lasagne.
Alternatively, head to Chinatown for Heffernan Lane Night Market (3-5 June, 10-12 June), a laneway's worth of deliciousness from stalls including Hoy Pinoy, Sambal Kampung and more.
Faux snow at the winter night market. Photo: Supplied
Winter Night Market (Wednesdays, June 1-August 31)
You don't even need to leave the city to get into the spirit of winter. Queen Victoria Market's popular Wednesday night food market gets a cold-weather makeover, with spiced cider, rich birria tacos from Dingo Ate My Taco and four-cheese spaghetti tossed in a wheel of parmesan by That's Amore. There will also be hearty Colombian food, Nashville-style hot fried chicken, firepits and Biscoff-flavoured burnt cheesecake to keep you warm midweek.
Warm up with a hot jam doughnut on Wednesday nights at the Queen Victoria Market. Photo: Supplied
Mornington Peninsula's Winter Wine Weekend (June 11-13)
It's never a bad idea to spend a long weekend on the Mornington Peninsula, but that's especially true when the region's many winemakers gear up for the annual Winter Wine Weekend. On Saturday June 11, 140 wines will be on offer at Winter Wine Fest, a day of tastings complemented by food from Many Little and Pt Leo Estate among other local restaurants (tickets $126).
The following day, a three-course long lunch will take place, hosted by Richard Cornish and featuring dishes such as kingfish cured in sparkling shiraz, and smoked lamb shoulder with baked and pickled quince. On the day, four Peninsula wineries without cellar doors will be pouring and talking about their wines (tickets $160).
East Gippsland Winter Festival is running during June and July with events like festivals of light, hot spring bathing and more. Photo: Scott Kingman
East Gippsland Winter Festival (17 June-10 July)
Embracing, not escaping, winter is the mantra of this event, with a month of hot spring bathing, fungi foraging, candlelight yoga and lantern-making workshops. Local restaurants Sardine, Sodafish and Northern Ground are each holding events with menus that maximise the region's ingredients.
Meanwhile, Sailors Grave Brewing is transforming Orbost into a magnet for live music, great food from Meatsmith and mind-boggling brews from Bodriggy for one weekend (8-10 July).
Casey Cornucopia at the Casey Winter Arts Festival (June 25-July 17)
Oversized food sculptures, a dinner that's about more than just the food, and a fruit-flavoured fog are among the sensory experiences on offer at this local arts festival in Melbourne's south-east. Celebrating its 20th year, the Winter Arts Festival is going all out, inviting London creative studio Bompas and Parr to create edible fog in flavours that will change each day.
At the Food Hub, the council area's history of food traditions will be explored over 24 days through stalls and events by local growers and artisans, as well as a seven-course immersive dinner celebrating design and food (July 1 & 2).
Fireside Yarra Valley (July 9-24)
Feel the heat at this annual event celebrating the wines of the Yarra Valley, with a program this year of fire-based cooking. Chandon is doing brunch with cocktails and dishes touched by smoke, Oakridge Estate is setting up the asado for Yeringberg lamb and more local produce, while Danish chef Bente Grysbaek (Pope Joan) will show how she builds a fire and uses it to cook at Seville Estate. Feeling toasty yet?
Winter Reds is a food and wine event throughout the Adelaide Hills region, focusing on fireplaces, cosy lunches and dinners, museum wines and more. Photo: Supplied
Winter Reds in the Adelaide Hills (July 29-31)
Your only commitment during this weekend is to seek out as many fireplaces, warming reds and ultra-comforting menus as possible. Traipse across this gourmet heaven on the fringes of Adelaide to seek out more than 30 guided tastings, parties, hot lunches and other snug experiences.
A Little More Barossa…Food and Wine Festival (August 1-31)
The full program will be released in July but expect long lunches, mystery picnics, masterclasses and plenty of other events at the region's cellar doors and restaurants.
Escaping the cold and heading to Taste Port Douglas is another winter ritual for many. Photo: Supplied
Taste Port Douglas (August 11-14)
The novelty of decamping north in winter is even more magnetic when you throw a food festival in the mix. Shane Delia (Maha), Jerry Mai (Bia Hoi), Aaron Ward (Shell House, Sydney) and Massimo Mele (Peppina, Hobart) are some of the names jetting into Port Douglas, joining Brisbane talent like Ben Williamson of Agnes and Bianca as well as dozens of local restaurants. The fun includes a beachside barbecue, masterclasses on topics such as jamon and sherry pairing, collaborations between visiting chefs and local restaurants, and a Sunday seafood feast.