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FOOD & DRINK

A Two-Day Food and Wine Celebration Is Coming to Melbourne for New Year's Eve

The NYE fireworks will not go ahead this year, but, instead, Melbourne will be filled with European-inspired pop-up dining precincts.
By Samantha Teague
November 16, 2020
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A Two-Day Food and Wine Celebration Is Coming to Melbourne for New Year's Eve

The NYE fireworks will not go ahead this year, but, instead, Melbourne will be filled with European-inspired pop-up dining precincts.
By Samantha Teague
November 16, 2020
  shares

The bad news: Melbourne's NYE fireworks will not be going ahead. It's not an unexpected announcement — with the annual event usually attracting 400,000 people to the city (a number that certainly doesn't scream 'COVID-safe') — but it's a little sad nonetheless. The good news: instead of fireworks, the city is getting a new two-day food and wine celebration run by the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) team together with the City of Melbourne.

New Year Street Feasts, as the new dining experience has been dubbed, will see the city filled with 11 food precincts inspired by Europe's piazzas and squares. More than 50 venues will be involved, with precincts popping up across Little Bourke Street, Little Collins Street, Lonsdale Street, Springs Street, Russell Street, as well as AC/DC, Hardware, Flinders and Market lanes, and Docklands.

As well as being exciting news for the food-loving citizens of Melbourne, it's also great news for the city's hospitality venues, with bars, cafes and restaurants restricted to takeaway-only for the better part of seven months. It's been a particularly difficult seven months for venues in the CBD, too, as many Melburnians continue to work from home. According to a July survey by the City of Melbourne, 15 percent of the city's hospitality businesses were unlikely to reopen after lockdown.

Some big-name venues have already announced their permanent closure. One of the first was Chinatown's 30-year-old Shark Fin House, which saw an 80 percent drop in customers back in February; and Ezard, with the Flinders Lane restaurant departing after 20 years. Little Bourke Street stalwart Longrain also announced it was shutting up shop for good back in May, but then Chef Scott Pickett swooped in and revived the restaurant.

The MFWF itself was impacted by this year's pandemic, first postponing, then cancelling its March festival.

The NYE fireworks will not go ahead this year.

When announcing the new event, Lord Mayor Sally Capp mentioned the difficult year it has been for the industry. "This has been an incredibly tough year and we want to mark its end by celebrating and supporting Melbourne's wonderful cafes, bars and restaurants," the Lord Mayor said in a statement. "We are tailoring a program to safely encourage more patrons into our incredible and deserving hospitality businesses that have struggled through lockdown restrictions."

While the events are under wraps for now, you can expect some pretty exciting announcements, if MFWF's 2020 program is anything to go by. The OG lineup included a tongue-tingling Sichuan Snack Fair, a party dedicated to hot chips and an homage to 40 years of The Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book. We'll let you know as soon as they're announced.

New Year Street Feasts will run from Thursday, December 31–Friday, January 1 at more than 50 venues across Melbourne. Tickets will go on sale to the public from Monday, November 23. More info will be available at melbournefoodandwine.com.au.

Top image: MFWF by Daniel Mahon

Published on November 16, 2020 by Samantha Teague

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