September in Melbourne doesn’t just signal the arrival of spring. For diehard footy fans, it means that the ultimate contest – the AFL Grand Final – is tantalisingly near. And while backyard barbecues and home viewing parties with fellow supporters are always popular ways to watch the ‘Granny, those wanting to get out to celebrate the last AFL contest of the year have no shortage of options. From the hallowed grounds of the MCG itself, to pubs and beer gardens around Melbourne; check out some of the top picks for where to watch the AFL Grand Final in Melbourne and start planning how you’ll mark the biggest day in the code’s calendar!
When Is The AFL Grand Final?
The AFL Grand Final 2019 is set for Saturday, 28 September. First bounce happens at 2.30pm, with pre-match entertainment usually kicking off at about 1pm. The official announcement of who is performing is still to come, but previous years’ musical acts have included Jimmy Barnes, Black Eyed Peas, Vance Joy, The Killers, Ed Sheeran, Sir Tom Jones and The Living End.
Where Can You Watch The AFL Grand Final?
The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Richmond
We’ll start with the big one: there is no better place to watch the AFL Grand Final than from one of the seats within the stadium itself, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It doesn’t even really matter if your team is playing or not; being lucky enough to secure tickets to the big game is an unrivalled experience. With an electric atmosphere and 100,000 other footy fans by your side, watching the Grand Final at the MCG is like nothing else. Your Grand Final ticket not only allows you to watch the game, but also gives you the opportunity to catch live performances from the pre-match entertainment line-up. Of course, a ticket to the Grand Final is one of the most coveted prizes going around and there are only a handful of legitimate ways to secure your seat: purchasing a Grand Final package, being either a full MCC or AFL Member, being a Club member, or winning tickets through sanctioned competitions, sponsors or promotions.
Federation Square, Melbourne
Federation Square is one of the city’s best-known landmarks, and it transforms into a footy-lover’s haven every year for the AFL Grand Final. Thousands of fans flock to this inner city square, where a big screen and live broadcast helps to ensure that none of the action is missed. Hit up any of the on-site food trucks whenever you get peckish, and spend the afternoon cheering and barracking alongside other supporters and fans. The AFL Grand Final at Federation Square is a free event to attend, and it is best to arrive early in order to nab an optimal football-watching spot.
Hotel Esplanade, St Kilda
To celebrate the 2019 AFL Grand Final, the freshly-refurbished Hotel Esplanade is offering punters two options for watching the game. The Main Bar, Public Bar and Gershwin Room will all be open to walk-in patrons, with bar snacks, pub meals and wood-fired pizzas available. Bookings aren’t required, but it is recommended to get in as early as you can to get a seat. The Espy Kitchen, the main restaurant, is also putting on a two-course set menu and three-hour drinks package for AFL fans. Bookings for the Espy Kitchen are required, at $98 per person. Expect the game to be screened live (and loud, as promised) in all venues.
The Bridge Hotel, Richmond
Gather your mates together and head to The Bridge Hotel in Richmond for game day. For the AFL Grand Final 2019, the pub is putting on a Punters Package, between 1pm and 5pm. The package cost runs at $100 per person and includes selected tap beer pints, tins, basics and house wine. Food can be included in your package perks for $20 per person. The Public Bar is open to walk-ins, though on a first-in best-dressed basis. The game will be broadcast across all of the pub’s HD screens, and a line-up of live entertainment and DJs is set to follow the final siren.
College Lawn Hotel, Prahran
To celebrate the 2019 Grand Final, the College Lawn Hotel in Prahran will be showing the game across 18 screens and two projectors scattered throughout the venue, meaning that you won’t miss a moment of the captivating tussle towards the premiership title. Doors open at 11am, and a live DJ will be hitting the decks once the winner of the Norm Smith has been announced. With an extensive food and drinks menu, an afternoon at the College Lawn Hotel is a great way to mark one of the most important days in the Victorian sporting calendar.
Richmond Club Hotel, Cremorne
Start the day off right with a hearty pre-game brunch at Cremorne’s Richmond Club Hotel. The brunching begins at 8.30am and wraps at 11.30am, and the $85 per person ticket includes a food and beverage package. Lunch bookings are also available for $85 per person, from 12.30pm to 3.30pm. Walk-ins can access the Public Bar from 8am, and the Rooftop and Level 1 Bar are open from 12pm. Much like other venues on Grand Final Day, entry is a first-in basis.
The Duke, Melbourne
Just a short stroll from Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and Melbourne Town Hall, the Duke of Wellington Hotel, known affectionately as The Duke, is a great option if you’re looking to celebrate the Grand Final in the heart of the city. Come game day, the hotel will be showing the match live across all its 17 screens, meaning that there are plenty of great spots throughout the venue to catch all the action as it happens. Gather together some friends, grab a bite to eat, enjoy a few drinks, and make the most of what is sure to be an unmissable game. Bookings are recommended.
Yarra Park, Richmond
Yarra Park in Richmond sees a flurry of activity in the week leading up to the last Saturday in September, and the action peaks on Grand Final Day. This location makes a popular option for families and watching the AFL Grand Final here is free. The gates open at 9am and the game is shown across several big screens. Kids will be kept well-entertained with a range of activities, including the MILO Kids Zone and AFL Live Site.
Garden State Hotel, Melbourne
The Garden State Hotel in Flinders Lane is one of Melbourne buzziest venues and it is no different come Grand Final Day. An $85 per person ticket permits punters access to the Beer Garden and Rose Garden, as well as a food and beverage package from 2pm to final siren. The package covers selected tap beer, wine, sparkling and non-alcoholic libations, plus some finger food on arrival and your choice of one of four burgers. Those playing the day by ear can try their luck in the Public Bar, with doors opening at 10am.
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Builders Arms Hotel, Fitzroy
The Builders Arms Hotel has a full-day of goings on to celebrate the AFL Grand Final. Early birds can drop-punt their way into a stellar day by getting down to the pub from 9am for a $10 bacon and egg roll from the Public Bar and to clinch a prime game-viewing table. Footy fans getting a later start to the day can book in for a pre-game lunch (tables available for groups of up to 10 people; a $69 per person set menu applies), which also includes half-time sausage rolls and three-quarter-time scones with strawberry jam and Jersey cream.
Home Grounds and Local Ovals
Traditionally, the home grounds of each of the teams lucky enough to make it into the AFL Grand Final also screen the game live on the big day. Even if you don’t support one of the final teams, watching the Grand Final surrounded by the most ardent and loyal fans can be an incredibly exciting experience (depending on the final outcome, that is). Some local football grounds also screen the game and put on match-day events, such as family-friendly activities and barbecues, so be sure to check with clubs in your neighbourhood.