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Here’s why 2019 will be an epic year in Melbourne

The Market Docklands
Illustration: Supplied

Bigger trains, an NYC-inspired food hall and The Cursed Child are just a few reasons to get stoked for 2019 in Melbourne.

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

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child makes its debut

After it became the highest-selling play on both Broadway and the West End, Melbourne is the third stop in the world for this epic two-part adventure. The official opening is set for February 23, but there will be preview performances from January 18. If you don't know a lot about the play, here's the lowdown: it's a sequel to the series, and was jointly conceived by JK Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany. It's presented in two parts, which you can watch on the same day or across two consecutive evenings. Find out how to get tickets here – including how to get involved in the $40 ticket lottery.

Bigger trains are coming to the packed Cranbourne-Pakenham line

Say goodbye to cramming yourself into someone’s sweaty armpit, Melbourne’s busiest train line is finally getting an upgrade. Last year, the Victorian government announced a $660 million upgrade to be carried out along the entire length of the south-east Pakenham-Cranbourne line. Over the coming years, longer platforms will be built at a total of 18 stations on the line to cater for 65 new high-capacity Metro trains, which will be 20 per cent longer than the existing fleet. The new trains and infrastructure will increase capacity on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line by 42 per cent, effectively creating room for 11,000 extra passengers during peak times.

Overnight festival White Night is moving to winter

OK, this might be a little controversial, but hear us out. When we first learned that White Night would be swapping its usually pretty balmy weather for the depths of winter, we were a little shocked. But with the promise of a new winter festival that’s set to take over much of Melbourne in August, we are a little intrigued. The government says the 12-hour White Night event will be part of a “massive new winter arts festival” running across three days. White Night's artistic director David Atkins said: “This event will give Melbourne a bigger stage to entice audiences and demonstrate Victoria’s rich cultural offering – Melbourne has always been the cultural capital and this initiative will ensure it maintains that mantle.” Guess we’ll see if they can pull it off! (In the meantime, we're going to need, like, five more coats and jumpers to brave an all-nighter...)

TAFE is now free

Following the re-election of premier Daniel Andrews, the Victorian government has promised free TAFE for priority courses across Victoria. What this means is that the government will now cover tuition fees for students who are eligible for government-subsidised training, including 30 priority non-apprenticeship courses (including certificates in agriculture, civil construction, commercial cookery, horticulture and more) and 20 Victorian apprenticeship pathway courses (including certificates in furniture making, horticulture, plumbing, baking and more).

China’s Terracotta Warriors are coming to the NGV

The NGV’s last winter blockbuster was a look back at the last 130 years of modern art, but the major 2019 winter exhibition is looking a fair bit further back. All the way back to the third century BC. In winter a delegation of eight statues will visit Melbourne as part of an exhibition at the NGV called Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality. The NGV is a gallery that always has one eye on the present and the future, which is why it's presenting another exhibition from China this winter: all-new works from contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang, inspired by his home country. At the centre of his exhibition is an installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds flying high above visitors' heads. Read more about the upcoming exhibition here.

The State Library will reopen its original reading room, the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall

The State Library of Victoria is undergoing an impressive $88 million refurb, and some of the sections of the library will reopen to the public after years of closure. The Vision 2020 Redevelopment Project involves major refurbishments of the library’s heritage spaces, as well as the creation of new spaces and new entrances. Construction has already begun on the library’s original reading room, the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, which has been closed to the public since 2003. The room will be returned to its original purpose as a reading room, with the 19th-century decor restored. The original skylights, which were closed in the 1970s, will be uncovered. Read more about it here.

Six new parks will be opening in Melbourne by 2020

Yes, the city is enveloped with construction at the moment. But the good news is we’re going to be reaping the benefits relatively soon. Case in point: the City of Melbourne announced last year that a bunch of new parks will be opening across the CBD and the inner suburbs before 2020. Have a read about all the green space that’s coming soon here.

Docklands is getting a Chelsea Market-inspired fresh food hall

Opening this year will be the Market, a brand-new food precinct in Docklands inspired by market halls like Chelsea Market in New York City. The Market is set to feature a collection of Melbourne provedores and specialty retailers – think everything from delis to butchers and bakeries, as well as a bunch of restaurants, a 3,800-square-metre Woolies supermarket, Dan Murphy’s, a large-scale Asian grocer and a Priceline pharmacy. Look, we give Docklands a lot of shit. But let’s be honest, if the precinct pulls this off, it could be pretty cool. Read all about it here.

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

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