Festival Fun in Melbourne
Victorians’ love of a festival is legendary and March is most definitely festival month. By Jenny Burns
MELBOURNE IS HOSTING numerous iconic events this month while there are also plenty of fun festivals around country Victoria.
These festivals bring to the fore the State’s delicious food and wine, stylish fashion, floral delights, great sporting credentials and love of a good laugh.
Major Melbourne festivals include Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Moomba, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, The Formula 1 2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (vamff.com.au), scheduled from 1 to 18 March, is an annual celebration of fashion, arts, ideas and creative endeavours. The festival includes world- class runway shows, state-of-the-art productions, beauty workshops, retail events, industry seminars, forums and live entertainment.
Over 100 of Australia’s established and emerging designers are taking part in this year’s festival. They include first time participants Hansen and Gretel, Arnsdorf, Chris Ran Lin, P.E Nation, Nice Martin, Kaliver, ATOIR and Elliatt.
Highlights include around 50 runway events while a fashion party featuring food and fashion is being held at the Plaza, located within the Royal Exhibition Building.
The Eat.drink.fashion program matches official events taking place within the city with top bars and restaurants nearby to create the perfect fashion night out.
The Festival’s Ideas and Arts programs highlight innovation, a theme which is explored through a focus on sustainability and ethical fashion.
Moomba (melbourne.vic.gov.au/ moomba) has been a celebrated part of Melbourne’s events calendar for 64 years and this year’s festival, being held from 9 to 12 March, promises to be just as popular. Highlights include free daily activities, workshops and performances including live music shows. There are cultural installations, roving entertainment, a nightly carnival, family movies and fireworks.
Moomba Festival’s Skate Park is holding daily scoot, skate and BMX clinics, demonstrations and competitions. The Moomba Masters Championship sees the best international water-skiers and wakeboarders battle it out in a series of competitions on the Yarra.
Athletes are competing across five categories—slalom, tricks, jump, night jump and wakeboarding—to win the coveted Moomba Masters title.
Other festival favourites include the Birdman Rally (11 March) which sees entrants donning their most inventive homemade flying contraptions and soaring into the Yarra in the name of charity.
Around 2,000 people are participating in the 2018 Moomba Parade (12 March). Community designed floats, cultural performance troupes, professional and amateur dance groups and school participants are weaving their way from Birdwood Avenue through the Kings Domain parkland, finishing at Queen Victoria Gardens.
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (melbournefoodandwine.com.au), on from 16 to 25 March, shines a global spotlight on Victoria’s world-class food and wine industries.
This year’s festival features over 275 events around the State.
A number of events in Melbourne are being held at the Hotel Lindrum. Here each night an international or interstate guest chef is offering his or her take on sustainable eating, over five courses with matched wine from a master Melbourne sommelier.
Melbourne’s best sommeliers and bartenders are curating a list of unique cocktails and award-winning Victorian wines to match a bar menu crafted by chefs Matt Stone and Jo Barrett from local, sustainable produce.
Festival goers can also stay at the hotel and feast on hotel breakfasts, mini bar and in-room dining menus designed by Stone and Barrett.
Other highlights include Bank of Melbourne World’s Longest Lunch on 16 March which sees 1,700 diners sit down at a 500-metre table along the banks of the Maribyrnong River. Chefs Adam D’sylva (Tonka, Coda), Jerry Mai (Annam, Pho Nom), and Kay-lene Tan (Tonka, Coda) are creating a three-course meal for diners.
Twenty-one Regional World’s Long Lunches are being held on the same day.
River Graze from 16 to 18 March sees the banks of the Yarra transformed into a food and wine lover’s playground for the annual event. Here you will discover how New York City’s famous Oddfellows Ice Cream Co uses Victorian produce to create new flavours, visit the Food Truck Shop by the father of Melbourne’s food truck scene Raph Rashid and sample many of Victoria’s best wines in the City Cellar wine garden.
Crawl ‘n’ Bite, supported by Victoria Harbour from 19 to 21 March, explores Melbourne’s vibrant dining scene. Hosted by a food and wine industry icon, a ‘crawl’ visits three of the city’s finest venues in one area in one night for a signature dish and matched drink. Eleven options are on offer covering Melbourne’s CBD and surrounding suburbs.
Other major events include the Wine Program which sees wine matched with cheese and dumplings.
The Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (melbflowershow.com.au), on at the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, Carlton from 21 to 25 March, is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest horticultural event.
Now in its 23rd year, the show attracts a cross-section of floral fanatics and gardening enthusiasts—from home improvement, DIY and renovation buffs, to families exploring creative Cubby Houses and enjoying floral face painting for all ages.
The show is also extremely popular with young creatives and emerging designers looking to hone their skills and to learn from the nation’s foremost floral talent.
Highlights include the Show Garden competition which recognises excellence across landscape design. Entrants this year include international award-winning Japanese landscape and garden designer Yosuke Yamaguchi who has collaborated with Victorian Ross Uebergang to create a garden that fuses oriental culture and design with Australian aesthetic.
The Show Gardens are complemented by the Landscape Victoria Boutique Gardens Competition where a selection of five designers are creating a series of intimate garden environments.
The entire interior of the Royal Exhibition Building is an explosion of colour and scent, with programming spanning two levels. Highlights include the RMIT floral fashion competition, floral design installations from Australia’s foremost floral artists, live student design competitions, daily floral workshops, and a programme of horticultural and floristry industry experts giving insightful demonstrations and Q&A sessions daily.
The Formula 1 2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix (grandprix.com.au), from 22 to 25 March, is renowned for bringing together the biggest names in motorsport, international celebrities and prominent business leaders.
Together with the chance to see the best Formula 1 drivers in action (including Australia’s own Daniel Ricciardo) there are plenty of other things to see and do around the Albert Park track.
Visit the Heineken Village on Saturday and you’ll see the Black Eyed Peas DJ Set and several other musical performances while feasting on food and wine and watching all the on-track action on the superscreens. The Kids Sporting Zone includes sporting activities, live music and food. Fan stages and the Melbourne Walk give race-goers a chance to get up and close to their heroes. The Industry and Innovation Precinct highlights Victoria’s contribution to the automotive, defence, aviation and advanced manufacturing industries. M-lane showcases the best of Melbourne, setting up a laneway-like experience and a culinary feast. Together with the Formula 1 cars, racegoers can also see other vehicles racing including Australian Supercars.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival (comedyfestival.com. au/2018), which starts on 28 March, is one of the three largest comedy festivals in the world, alongside Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Montreal’s Just for Laughs. Established in 1987, the Festival has grown to include over 600 shows in 2018 with an enormous program of stand-up comedy, cabaret, theatre, street performance, film, television, radio and visual arts. During the festival the Melbourne Town Hall precinct is converted into a giant comedy hub and here you’ll find international and local comedy acts performing in venues of all shapes and sizes.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Photo: Jim Lee Photo.
Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.
Formula 1 2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix. Photo: LAT Images.