Melbourne New Year’s Eve event a feast for the senses

Melbourne New Year’s Eve event a feast for the senses

December 26, 2021

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Ben Luzz has the martinis ready for a street party in the city this New Year’s Eve which he says is going to be bigger and better than last year.

“You can just smell the horizon,” the co-owner of Gin Palace and Bar Ampere says. “Obviously Omicron is there and people are aware of it but I think people just take that on their chin and understand it is what it is.”

Ben Luzz is taking over an old Melbourne City Council car park in Russell Place to bring in the new year with New Year Street Feasts. Credit:Chris Hopkins

Up to 5000 people are expected to attend outdoor street parties like the one Luzz is organising as part of the New Year Street Feasts program which is being billed as a COVID-safe way to ring in the new year.

Gin Palace, Bar Ampere and Bijou are taking over the car park in Russell Place for a “night market style” celebration with a horse float converted into a portable cocktail bar, an oyster station and a coal grill with skewers and lobster tails.

Fireworks are back on in the city this year after they were cancelled last year and alongside the smaller street feasts there will be four large “Celebration Zones” with 42,000 free tickets available.

At the celebration zones there will be 115 artists performing including everything from comedy and circus acts to dance groups, live music and DJs.

Gin Palace and Bar Ampere took part in the New Year Street Feasts last year when they ran for the first time and Luzz says the night had a great feel.

“Everyone was in such a good mood and it was nice to get out and see off that year not knowing what 2021 was going to be like,” he says. “It was the most poignant new year as it can be a bit of forced celebration but it didn’t feel like that. It obviously wasn’t the year we expected to have but we are still holding out hope for 2022.”

CBD stalwart Bar Lourinha is also participating in the New Year Street Feasts and owner Matt McConnell says everyone is sorely in need of a good night out.

“We are doing an extension of what we do inside but on the street and lots of fun,” he says. “A glass of bubbles on arrival and some tapas to ease into it and a couple of big flavour dishes.”

McConnell says it’s a funny time with the new wave of coronavirus but he is positive about the night which is going to be very safe, spaced out and outdoors.

“It has been a very interesting year and it is going out with a big bang,” he says. “We want it to be a celebration, there is no point doing it half-arsed. Getting together with people when we are allowed to is really more important than it ever has been before.”

Last year the New Year Street Feasts sold out more than 9000 dining packages bringing in $2.2 million to the city economy.

Lord mayor Sally Capp says she expects this year’s New Year’s Eve to be a much bigger celebration.

“This is a chance for our traders to showcase what they do best across seven outdoor precincts – delivering some of the best meals and service in the world – all against the backdrop of our iconic streetscape,” she says.

What’s on this New Year’s Eve

  • Celebration zones at Alexandra Gardens, Docklands, Treasury Gardens and Flagstaff Gardens will host individual fireworks displays, DJs and bands. Pre-booked tickets and full vaccination status essential.
  • New Year’s Street Feasts festival will invite restaurants to sell their specialties on seven laneways in the CBD. Pre-purchased tickets essential.

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