Melbourne to get new winter festival to match Vivid and Dark Mofo

Melbourne International Arts Festival is set to merge with White Night to create a new blockbuster winter festival from next year.

The as yet unnamed event is hoped to do to Melbourne what Vivid and Dark Mofo did for tourism in Sydney and Hobart respectively during the colder months, and will sit alongside Victoria’s blockbuster sporting attractions to become a “sixth major event”, according to Creative Industries Minister Martin Foley.

The new festival will celebrate Melbourne’s “cultural, creative and culinary strengths” in 2020, as well as showcasing regional Victoria with White Night Bendigo in 2020 and Geelong in 2021.

“This bold new winter festival will build on Melbourne’s standing as a global cultural capital, showcasing our local artists and bringing our cultural arts institutions to life,” said Foley.

Melbourne International Arts Festival (MIAF) chair Tim Orton said the new festival would be “intrinsically Melbourne”.

“It’s not like Vivid, it’s not like Dark Mofo, this is clearly a Melbourne festival,” he said.

“The new festival will create more opportunities for local artists and creators, attract increased Victorian, interstate and international audiences, and will project Melbourne’s cultural excellence to the world.”

Incumbent MIAF artistic director Jonathan Holloway will announce his final program on July 16 and David Atkins Enterprises, which has run White Night since 2017, finishes its tenure in late August.

A new artistic director and creative team to helm the event are set to be announced “in the next two to three months”.

The program will be released on 16 July, with the festival set for 2-20 October.