Australia’s cultural capital of Melbourne is bouncing back after the pandemic in style. Here are half a dozen exciting happenings over the next few months that are worth booking your tickets for right away.
1. A changing of the guard in the tennis world
Mired in controversy last year after then World #1 (and nine-time champ here) Novak Djokovic was deported prior to the start of the tournament, all eyes are once again on the first Slam of the year, the Australian Open (16 to 19 January 2023). Djokovic himself is back, having vowed to forgive (though not forget) his experience a year ago. Although the new #1, teenage sensation Carlos Alcarez, who defeated him (and Nadal) en route to the US Open title last year, has had to withdraw with injury, it remains to be seen just how long Djokovic can hold off the tide. Beyond the courts expect an array of acclaimed F&B, including famed Asian-inspired diner Supernormal, from perhaps Melbourne’s most famous chef, Andrew McConnell.
Sports fans may also want to mark their calendars for the return of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne (30 March to 2 April 2023).
2. A debut for one of the world’s biggest musicals
Delayed due to Covid-19, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s box-office sensation Phantom of the Opera (in theatres until February 18 2023) finally came to haunt Arts Centre Melbourne at the end of 2022. Originally scheduled to close at the end of January, new dates have been added through to mid-February, meaning it’s not too late to snag tickets. Australian performer Josh Piterman, who made his name in West Side Story, will be leading the cast. The staging is one Australia’s biggest ever musical productions, with more than 60 cast and orchestra members and an array of dazzling and innovative special effects.
3. A dining scene that never ceases to impress
Shaking of the shackles of the past few years, the city has quickly re-established its claim to having the most varied and exciting dining scene in all of Australia. Among the most innovative arrivals over the past year are Freyja (which applies a New Nordic sensibility to Aussie fine-dining, with dishes like smoked oysters with buttermilk); riverside spot Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters (showcasing the best produce from across the entire state and incorporating a 3000-bottle wine library); and Parcs (“scraps” spelt backward), a 25-seater focused on rescued ingredients, fermentation and low waste (think orange kosho and bread miso, jars of which you can even bring home).
4. Hot hotel openings and a new look for one of the best-located
The first quarter of the year sees the arrival of both Ritz-Carlton and Le Méridien in the CBD. Already going strong after an award-winning $40m renovation and relaunch in April 2022, Pullman Melbourne on the Park overlooks the famed Melbourne Cricket Ground and is only a 10-minute walk from Rod Laver Arena, home of the Australian Open. The renovation saw all the rooms upgraded and special ‘shrouds’ installed on the windows, turning the already impressive views across the city into picture frames. For those with deeper pockets, the William Clarke Sky Villa – occupying the top two floors of the hotel – has also been reimagined, turning it into one of the most exclusive penthouses in the city. Meanwhile, breakfast now features many of the state’s top food producers, including acclaimed La Madre Bakery.
5. A huge art exhibition with a renewed focus on local talent
Returning for the first time in 10 years (!), Melbourne Now (24 March to 20 August 2023) will showcase over 200 artists and creatives from across the state of Victoria. Covering the full gamut from photography to fashion to sculpture – and still finding room for glasswork, performance art, virtual reality and much more – this massive exhibition will debut more than 60 world-premiere pieces at the National Gallery of Victoria. Among other highlights, you might come across a neon temple assembled from computer fans or an AI chatbot pre-disposed to falling in love. There’s also a rich and rewarding focus on First Nations and Indigenous culture.
6. Music festivals in all kinds of locations
Melbourne’s music scene is among the world’s best and the wealth of festivals reflects that. But while the likes of Laneway (11 February 2023) are already well-known, there are a host of equally interesting gatherings scattered across the state. March is a great month to explore the scene, with everything from the acclaimed Port Fairy Folk Festival (10 to 13 March 2023), held in a charming old fishing village 300km to the southwest of Melbourne, to the Pitch Music & Arts Festival (10 to 14 March 2023) in the foothills of the Grampians (and this year featuring the likes of Four Tet and Nightmares on Wax) and By the Pier (24 to 25 March 2023) in sleepy Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula.
For more information on Singapore Airlines flights to Melbourne, visit their website.