If you’re not familiar with North Melbourne’s Victorian-era architecture, independent boutiques and cosy cocktail bars, the start of summer is the perfect time to check them out. And there’s no better time than on Thursday nights, when venues across the suburb are offering activities and happy hours.

Every Thursday from November 23 to December 14, North Melbourne (behind the CBD and the Queen Victoria Market) comes to life with live music, late-night shopping, happy hours and events from 5pm to 8pm. From cheap comedy tickets to $10 drinks, here are our picks for a night out.

Eat and drink

Hit up low-key cocktail bar and pizza place Joe Taylor & Oskar Pizza for a thin-crust pizza and a great happy hour: $16 Negronis, $15 frozen cocktails and $8 nips of Starward Two-Fold whisky from 5pm until 8pm. If it’s nice out, the beer garden is an ideal spot.

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Down the road, Here’s Looking at You, Kid is a family-run gin distillery inspired by the Moroccan setting of the film Casablanca. Big windows flood the cellar door with natural light. From 4pm you can grab a $10 G&T to enjoy by the window, and there are free gin tastings on offer too.

If a pub is more your thing, The Courthouse is a slick, refurbished gastropub. There’s live music and $15 frozen Margaritas from 5pm to 8pm.

Catch some live music

Sofar Sounds hosts intimate gigs in unusual locations, and over these four Thursdays in North Melbourne it’s bringing together three different artists with three different styles for a show. The line-up is always a secret, but this time we know the locations in advance.

Head to iconic North Melbourne cafe Auction Rooms on November 30, and hair salon Madison’s World on Thursday December 7. Tickets are $30 and on sale now. On December 14, catch a free show at North Melbourne Library. It's set to be an intimate gig, so make sure you register your attendance to secure a spot.

There are also plenty of other opportunities to find live music for free around the suburb at the brilliantly colourful Casa Verde florist, the Aesop store on Errol Street, the Courthouse, Here’s Looking at You, Kid, and at Manfred’s Shoe Lounge (where you can also grab a free shoe shine while you listen).

Shop (and sample) into the night

There are complimentary skincare consulations and samples at Aesop’s local store on Errol Street, head to Metta Chai for small-batch chai tea and locally made ceramics, or Martin Fella to check out the range of designer vintage bags and clothes.

Also make time to stop at Willows and Wine, a book store and community space that serves wine, cheese and hosts book clubs and literary events. There will be an in-store book fair running until November 30, with books available for $5-15.

Learn a new skill

Learn basic mending skills at Decay Mart, a pop-up from queer art collective Fast Fashun on Errol Street. The Mend It Don’t Send It (To Lanfill) event is on 7 December from 6p to 8pm. You can bring in your clothes that are in need of a fix, or pick something off the fast fashion pile on the floor.

After dinner, drinks, shopping and everything else, it’s time to check out The Comic’s Lounge. It’s one of Melbourne’s top comedy spots and has shows on seven nights a week. If you go on Thursdays there are discounted tickets for $20.

See more information and the full line-up.

This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the Australian Retail Association. Events are supported by the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund, in partnership with the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne.