This time of year, an inordinate number of Melburnians are always sunning it up in Europe. Given you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re not one of them.

Good for you.

Who needs blue skies and balmy temperatures when we have such an abundance of lovely cold rain here? Not normal rain, but indoor rain that you can walk through without getting wet. I’m talking about Rain Room, the blockbuster art piece that’s just opened in St Kilda after generating hours-long queues in New York, Los Angeles and London, and which calls to mind a quote from science-fiction author Arthur C Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Another good reason to get off the couch and stop scrolling Instagram, marinating in envy, is to visit one of the three bars run by Michael and Zara Madrusan, the subjects of this issue’s cover story. Being serious now – Europe this time of year may have blue skies, charming piazzas and all that, but even in winter, I’d take our nightlife over any European capital’s (except maybe Berlin’s, though I’m too old for that place now). The Madrusans are a big part of that. More than just serving excellent drinks, their bars are transporting in a way few others can match. It’s a potent combination.

If you’re looking for a more concrete list of things to do, we have immersive theatre sensation A Midnight Visit, a cheese festival and a Disney classic in concert. Or you could just take a long drive and have lunch at Oakridge, a winery and restaurant that, in our books, deserves more attention.

Still not enough? Really, truly can’t get over your Euro-envy? Maybe you need to stop by the Moreland Hotel, which has a full replica of a European piazza inside, including a Colosseum, a statue of David and a blue sky overhead. We found out how and why.