South Melbourne set to flex mussels with annual Seafood and Jazz Festival

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South Melbourne set to flex mussels with annual Seafood and Jazz Festival

mussel and jazz festival
words by joshua jennings

Feast on seafood, groove to the music and take in the sights and sounds of the South Melbourne Market.

This year’s Port Phillip Mussel and Jazz Festival kicks off a decade after the festival’s inaugural event. For event regulars, there’s plenty familiar to love about this year’s happening – a killer jazz and soul lineup, street food, roving entertainers and kids activities – and for anyone and everyone, there’s a whole lot of new to discover too.

South Melbourne Market’s major annual seafood street party, which includes a panoply of ocean catches straight from Port Phillip Bay, is a free event that runs over Saturday and Sunday of the Labour Day long weekend.

Here are some of the highlights to dive into.

The Music

jazz and mussel festival

A dozen jazz and soul acts are booked to perform on the festival’s stage over two days. Vintage-inspired rock, blues and soul group Miss Lizzy & The Night Owls are set to play on  Saturday night and experimental jazz artist Adam Rudegeair performing a double set on Sunday night.

Other must-sees include The Jackson Combo, Bluetone Assembly and Margie Lou Dyer. The magic happens off the stage too, with roving entertainers enlivening the festive atmosphere.

French chanteuse Noria Letts will bring the sultry atmosphere of a Paris jazz club to the stage, while New Orleans-style funk and brass ensemble Hoodoo Mayhem will have the crowd grooving along to their funky party tunes.

The lineup has been expertly crafted to highlight the versatility and excitement of live jazz, meaning there’s something for every type of fan and there will be music blasting from 11am til evening. We know it might be hard to pry yourself away from the stage, but if there’s anything that’ll make you do it, it’s the salty, garlicky, briny smells wafting over from the vendors…

Food and Drinks

mussel and jazz festival

Seafood is the signature cuisine of the Port Phillip Mussel and Jazz Festival, but there’s a vast range of options on the menu. 

Expect a large variety of street vendors dishing up mussels and seafood (regular favourites have included lobster rolls, crab bao bus, paella and fresh-shucked oysters doused in hot sauce and lemon), but also check out alternative vendors for other options catering to all tastes, including pastries and burgers.

Keep in mind, too, the Cecil Street event is connected to the South Melbourne Market, which will be running during both days of the festival. 

Scale up your food safari-ing to new heights by visiting popular choices including Bambu, Claypots, Smithburg, Greek’n Out and Simply Spanish.

Plus, what would a festival be without the drinks? With the hot sun shining on your shoulders, it only makes sense to have an ice-cold glass of sangria in your hand. This year’s festival bar will be hosted inside a beautiful retro caravan – stop by to pick up a refreshment (or two, or three…).


mussel and jazz festival

With Cecil Street repurposed into a fun festival strip for the weekend, keep an eye and ear out for a family-friendly mix of roving musicians and performers. The Giant Seagulls, stocking-legged entertainers in giant seagull costumes, add a comical element to the festival environment and they are expected to have the children in attendance rubber-necking gleefully. 

There will also be cooking demonstrations spread across the weekend, where you can learn to make some of your favourite seafood dishes at home (with market-fresh ingredients, of course).

Shuck. Don’t Chuck.

South Melbourne Market is in partnership with the Nature Conservancy’s Shuck Don’t Chuck program, which means mussel, oyster and scallop shells are collected from the market, cured and then used in reef restoration projects in Port Phillip Bay. Since 2016 the Market has recovered over 191 tonnes of oyster, mussel and scallop shells.

You can help the cause by putting your shells into our dedicated shell bins and making sure no other plastic or other contaminants go into these bins, this will ensure the shells head back to the bay to rebuild the natural shellfish reefs which are some of Australia’s most critically endangered ecosystems.

With tens of thousands of festival goers over the weekend that is a lot of reef rebuilding to look forward to.

The 2024 Port Phillip Mussel and Jazz Festival is a free event that happens on the Labour Day Long Weekend. Visit the festival between 11am to 9pm on Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10.  Find out more about the festival here.