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9 exciting things coming to Melbourne in 2020

Written by
Time Out editors

A huge new winter festival, a Magic Mike-inspired live show and the Royal Exhibition Building’s rooftop are just a few reasons to get stoked for 2020 in Melbourne.

The coming months are packed with things to look forward to – here are our favourites:

We’re getting a new mega-festival for winter

We’re still not entirely sure what to make of last year’s announcement that Melbourne Festival and White Night are merging into an expansive new arts festival to be held each August. On the one hand, we’re seeing two fabulous festivals shrinking to just one, but on the other, the possibilities of this collaboration are hugely exciting. The best thing about it is that it has two fabulous new artistic directors who like to push boundaries to create surprising experiences for audiences: choreographer and long-time arts leader Gideon Obarzanek, and visual artist Hannah Fox, who is leaving her post as associate creative director at Dark Mofo to take on this new festival. So far, we don’t know much. We don’t even know what the festival will be called, but it’s promising to “celebrate Melbourne’s cultural, creative and culinary strengths” with a program of visual and performing arts from around Australia and the globe. The first festival will run from August 20 to September 6.

Plenty of exciting bars and restaurants are opening soon

Several big Sydney bars and restaurants are opening southern outposts, like party-hard burger bar Mary’s on January 20. Glamorous Sydney cocktail and Champagne bar Nick and Nora’s, by the crew who has also brought us Eau de Vie and Mjolner, will be bringing the class and charm to Collins Street at the front end of the year. Andrew McConnell will also be opening his first restaurant in five years, a yet unnamed, much-anticipated clubby European bistro in Cavendish House on Russell Street with as much a focus on drinks as the food. Another yet-to-be-named project is Martin Benn and Vicki Wild’s progression from Sepia, which is slated to open in mid-2020, promising to be a revival of fun. Speaking of fun, Jessi Singh of Daughter In Law has taken over the Pezzo space on Flinders Lane, bringing us Mrs Singh, a wine bar with modern Indian snacks set to open sometime in February. On the wine front, Christian McCabe (Embla, Lesa) and Patrick Sullivan (Patrick Sullivan Wines) are opening Punchin’ Bottles at 124 Russell Street, a Victorian-focussed bottle shop paying careful attention to provenance and sustainable farming practices that will fling its doors open on January 15. 

A permanent new food precinct will open in Melbourne’s west

Announced in November of 2019, Grazeland is pitching itself as a new culinary precinct that will span over 10,000 square metres and include more than 50 food vendors, three bars, artisan stalls, live performances and more. It will be opening in Spotswood and will be located on the open stretch of concrete right next to Scienceworks, flanked by the looming West Gate Bridge and with the Yarra River and the CBD skyline visible in the background. The venue will be open every weekend of the year (on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings), and we are promised plenty of seating for visitors (one of the biggest gripes about visiting Queen Vic, after all). Grazeland is expected to open in March 2020. 

Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike Live is grinding into town

It's one thing to gawk at near-naked men gyrating their way across the silver screen from the safety of your cinema chair, but what would you do if the buffed beauties from Magic Mike came to life before your eyes? Channing Tatum's Magic Mike Live brings the world of the 2012 film, based on his IRL stripping escapades, to the stage – and you don't even need 3D glasses to experience it. The show has played extended runs in Las Vegas and London, titillating hordes of women. It's crafted with the female gaze and a message of women's empowerment firmly in mind, but anybody who appreciates a perfectly chiselled six-pack (six is the bare minimum) is welcome in this inclusive show, created and directed by Tatum. The show is performed in a pop-up venue at Birrarung Marr called the Arcadia, transformed into a glamorous club based on the Xquisite strip joint from Steven Soderbergh’s film. The show is in Melbourne from May 26 and is booking through to mid-August. More here.

Royal Exhibition Building is opening its rooftop to the public

The Royal Exhibition Building has been shrouded in scaffolding lately – but it’s all for a good reason. A huge makeover is underway and includes southern façade conservation works, conservation repairs to the dome, cupola and drum, as well as the restoration of the 1880s Dome Promenade, a platform set up around the central dome that you can walk around. After the works are completed, there’s a plan to set up daily access to the building, which is often restricted to select events throughout the year, including the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, the Dog Lovers Show and Finders Keepers. The redevelopment is expected to be completed in late 2020.

ACMI is finally reopening after a $40 million redevelopment

You might have noticed that the Australian Centre for the Moving Image has been closed for the better part of a year as well. It’s all for a good reason – after a big donation from the Victorian government, ACMI is receiving a huge facelift. The new ACMI, which is set to open in the middle of the year, will feature a host of new spaces, including a new free permanent exhibition to replace Screen Worlds. There will also be education spaces, a media preservation lab (a museum of past technologies), screen industry labs for future filmmakers, a new café and bar, and a fun new ACMI shop, as well as upgraded cinemas showcasing the best of local and international cinema. More here.

Australia’s biggest video gaming and e-sports venue is opening in Emporium

The largest video gaming and e-sports entertainment venue in the southern hemisphere is opening in Melbourne sometime this year. Fortress Melbourne is being billed as a new kind of entertainment experience, offering over 160 gaming PCs, console gaming suites, four dedicated streamer pods, an RPG and tabletop gameplay area, function rooms, merch store and a 200-seat grandstand for e-sport events. The space will span 2,700 square metres and run over two levels of Emporium Melbourne. Not only will Fortress be stacked with screens, but there will also be a full-service restaurant and two bars.  

St Kilda Pier is being completely rebuilt with a new penguin viewing area

Seeing the fairy penguins at St Kilda Pier is one of the coolest things you can do in Melbourne right now. These black-and-white cuties are there all year round after dusk, hanging out on the rocks next to the pier. The Victorian government has invested some sweet cash into making this place as penguin-friendly as possible. The plan is to completely rebuild St Kilda Pier in an effort to preserve the landmark for future generations. The new pier will include a new penguin viewing area that curves out into the bay. It will provide tiered seating, new toilets and sheltered areas for visitors. The rebuilt breakwater will also provide a better-protected swimming area on St Kilda Beach. The goal is to provide protection for the penguin colony, as well as giving locals and tourists a better viewing platform. Construction is set to commence this year.

The first airport brewery in the southern hemisphere is opening at Melbourne Airport

Yes, you read that correctly. A brewery in the airport. Collingwood's Stomping Ground Brewing Company will be opening a brand-new airport brewery inside the international terminal at Melbourne Airport. It will officially be known as the southern hemisphere's first-ever airport brewery. As the Stomping Ground team will be brewing on-site, you'll get to choose from (and taste) a wide range of craft beer, plus a selection of food from the brewery's Collingwood menu. Maybe having your flight delayed isn't so bad after all… It’s set to open in early February, so not long now!

Can't wait? Here are all the fun things happening in Melbourne right now. 

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