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By Concrete Playground
December 10, 2016

Melbourne's Best New Events of 2016

Honouring the best new events activating Melbourne spaces this year.
By Concrete Playground
December 10, 2016


Honouring the best new events activating Melbourne spaces this year.

It goes without saying, Melbourne's characteristically buzzing cultural ecosystem has thrived this year, with the city's most innovative, forward-thinking residents taking bold risks in their field. More inventive, forward-thinking and experimental than ever, Melbourne's event producers have found new ways to celebrate city life, reinvigorating dwindling or hidden spaces, taking the idea of 'immersive' happenings to another level, and taking us on wild adventures in our own home.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Melbourne to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new events, opened in 2016, have been nominated for Best New Event in Concrete Playground's Best of 2016 Awards.

Vote for your favourite.

  • 6
    Think West

    Our favourite thought-provokers over at The School of Life gifted us with a two-week community festival of philosophy, culture and ideas. Taking over Melbourne’s western suburbs in November, the Think West program was all about expanding your mind and stimulating your thinking, delivered in the organisation’s trademark open-minded style.

    With over 40 workshops, classes, tours and events on offer across the inaugural festival, the School of Life team rounded up a host of interesting westside partners. They locked in an impressive list of venues too, with the likes of Yarraville’s iconic Sun Theatre, the Planetarium at Scienceworks, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Two Birds Brewing and co-working space The Dream Factory in Footscray hosting events.

    Vote for Think West.

  • 5
    Samu x Supernormal Pop-Up

    Bar entrepreneur Matt Bax (of Bar Americano and the currently hibernating Bar Exuberante) was out to brew the perfect cuppa, as part of a Japanese-inspired tea experience at Supernormal in Flinders Lane. An idea more than 15 years in the making, Samu was described by Bax as a “contemporary tea meditation…a place where people will have an opportunity to taste real matcha in a unique space”.

    Available as part of the restaurant’s regular lunch and dinner service, Samu saw guests seated in a custom-built teahouse complete a with wooden seating bar where they enjoyed ceremonial-grade matcha and wagayashi-style sweets.

    Vote for Samu x Supernormal Pop-Up.

  • 4
    The Lost Lands

    The cats behind Falls Festival created a brand new two-day festival this year, The Lost Lands, a two-day camping festival that not only featured music, but centred around art, theatre, comedy and outdoor activities as well. It was held over the Saturday and Sunday of the October long weekend just outside of Melbourne at Werribee Mansion, the luxe AF mansion and grounds that has played host to So Frenchy So Chic and the late Harvest Festival (RIP).

    But the real point of difference for The Lost Lands is that was designed to be hella family friendly. Festival organiser and Falls founder Simon Daly has a family of five, and he recognised the need for a more European style of festival in Australia that not only lets kids attend, but actually involves them in the festival’s activities, ‘shared experiences’ that can be enjoyed by everyone — be that parents, kids, friends, and anyone who rocks up. Think bushwalks, bike rides and even day trips to the Werribee Open Range Zoo. They also offered a range of workshops to expand the mind (such as cooking and songwriting) or lengthen the legs (like circus play and yoga).

    Vote for The Lost Lands.

  • 3
    Feast of the Deceiver

    In September, Secret Squirrel Productions — the c̶a̶b̶a̶l̶ c̶o̶v̶e̶n̶ group responsible for Underground Cinema — tore open a portal to hell with an immersive dining experience at a secret location in Melbourne.  Secret Squirrel, Melbourne’s kings of immersive theatre and film experiences, have flung previous audiences back in time to ancient Rome, flogged them through a crash-course in zombie apocalypse survival and set them free inside Hannibal Lecter’s debauched mind-palace. This time, Creative Director Tamasein Holyman said she wanted to “engross guests in a world of raw, dark beauty and absinthe-fuelled dreams” with a six-course banquet.

    The Feast of the Deceiver is an ancient and secret ritual — but here’s what would-be acolytes of the Order were in for. The feast ran over three nights on September 8, 9 and ten with b̶l̶o̶o̶d̶l̶e̶t̶t̶i̶n̶g̶s̶  performances lasting from 7-10pm. The six-course degustation combined game-play, problem-solving and live theatre.

    Vote for Feast of the Deceiver.

  • 2
    Mr Black Espresso Martini Festival

    We get it. Everyone loves an espresso ‘tini. We’ve got a bar that even does them on tap — and Sydney recently got a whole venue dedicated to that God-sent concoction of chilled coffee and vodka. And this year — not to be outdone by Sydney — Melbourne landed the country’s very first espresso martini festival. Sleep, who needs it?

    The festival, which was initially just a one-day thing, was extended to run over three days, from Friday, November 4 to Sunday, November 6. It was gifted to our espresso-loving, cocktail-filled city by the fine boozehounds at Mr Black, a NSW-based cold-pressed (and damn fine) coffee liqueur. In short, they know how to capitalise on our weaknesses and we’re not even mad about it. The affair involved some of Australia’s best coffee suppliers, cafes and bars.

    Vote for Mr Black Espresso Martini Festival.

  • 1
    Italian Wine + Food Festival 2016

    If you’re ever uncertain about the massive contribution Italians have made to Australian society, just stop for a minute and think about your favourite foods. Pizza. Pasta. Salumi. Gelato. And don’t even get us started on the booze. We found all that and more at the Italian Wine + Food Festival.

    Taking over the Royal Exhibition Building on Sunday, May 29, this day-long gastronomic bonanza welcomed the proprietors and chefs from some of most beloved Italian eateries in town. We’re talking Bar Idda, 400 Gradi and Rosa’s Kitchen, to name but a few. There were cooking demonstrations, pasta-making classes and workshops with Victoria’s top sommeliers.

    Vote for the Italian Food + Wine Festival.

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