“Fireworks are fun to watch but we just couldn’t risk drawing up to 400,000 into the city this year,” lord mayor Sally Capp said. “We’ve come up with a way to safely ring in the New Year so you don’t have to spend the night on the couch with takeaway.
“There is something for everyone to enjoy, from Japanese hot dogs and beers at [Japanese bar] Hihou to suckling pig bo ssam at Supernormal.”
What’s on instead?
The City of Melbourne is hosting a two-day outdoor dining festival to make up for the loss of the fireworks. The CBD will be divided into 11 precincts, with traffic blocked and diners spilling out onto roads and laneways for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Ms Capp said this would allow people to still come to the city, celebrate with friends and family and support local businesses without massive, uncontrollable crowds vying for the best view of the fireworks.
Nathan Toleman, founder of the Hazel restaurant in Flinders Lane, said the city’s hospitality venues were grateful to be able to mark New Year’s Eve and “let our hair down”.
“The ability to sit outside [and dine on the roads] … I think people should come because it might not happen again.”
More information is available on the New Year Street Feasts website. Be sure to book online as tickets are limited.
Is dancing allowed?
Yes. Nightclubs can open for seated and non-seated service of food and drink. People are allowed on dance floors but a one-person per four-square-metres rule applies. There can be a maximum of 50 people on the dance floor at a time.
The same rules apply to dance floors at pubs and bars. Some venues, such as Billboard in Russell Street, are offering ticketed drinks and admission packages so that they can closely monitor New Year’s Eve numbers.
Can I have a New Year’s Eve house party?
Yes. Victorians can have up to 30 visitors to their home per day. This limit applies to the entire day, though. This means you can’t have your parents over for lunch on New Year’s Eve and then have 30 friends over for drinks later that night.
What else can I do over New Year’s?
Several cultural institutions are open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, such as the National Gallery of Victoria and the Melbourne Museum. You’ll need to book online as visitor numbers are capped.
The District Docklands is hosting a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party with street performers, DJs and fire dancers. Check out the free event from 5pm to 10pm in Docklands. No bookings required.
Revellers can head up Eureka Tower from 7pm to 9.45pm and enjoy a drink while admiring the city. There is an adults-only session from 10.15pm to 12.30am. Tickets cost from $28 for children and $59 for adults.
For those desperate for midnight fireworks, head to Luna Park. There are still last-release tickets available for anyone keen to ride out the year with some thrills. Tickets are $149 per person for entry from 7pm to 12.30am.
A cheaper option is to check out Mother Nature’s fireworks by sky-gazing on Mount Dandenong. You can have a picnic on the lawn at SkyHigh to enjoy the sky and music (just be sure to arrive before 11.45pm). Adults and older children can also sit down for a banquet meal at SkyHigh from $135.
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Broede Carmody is a culture reporter at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald