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Huh? White Night and Melbourne Festival are being combined?

Written by
Ben Neutze

We've been hearing for several months now that the Victorian government has been looking to reimagine Melbourne's festival offerings, but here's a move that we think you'll find surprising: they're combining White Night and Melbourne International Arts Festival into one mega-festival that'll take place in the middle of winter. 

An announcement this morning from the minister for creative industries, Martin Foley, and minister for major events and tourism, Martin Pakula, reveals that the first of these as-yet-unnamed mega-festivals will happen over several weeks in winter 2020.

The release says: "It will bring Melbourne to life during the quieter winter months and support our bars, restaurants and hotels to be full year-round."

The plan is for a festival that celebrates "Melbourne’s cultural, creative and culinary strengths" by activating laneways and precincts, celebrating the city's after-dark culture. We've heard that the Victorian government was looking to find a way to capture some of the magic of MONA's Dark Mofo festival, so it checks out.

There'll be free and ticketed events, and the festival is planned to focus on commissioning new work with collaborations between local and international artists.

The major question we've got is: how do you bring together two festivals that have such distinctive identities? Melbourne International Arts Festival is very much about high-end arts experiences, while White Night is more focussed on free events and spectacle for the whole family.

As with everything, we'll wait and see. All we can be sure of for now is that Melbourne's cultural calendar is in for a major shake up.

Need more arts in your life but can't wait for festival time? Check out the best exhibitions and the best shows in Melbourne this month.

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