The world's most liveable city will welcome a host of new attractions, events and experiences in 2017. Food and wine will at the fore when the city plays host to the prestigious World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards; visitors will be taken to new heights with the launch of The Eagle at Arthurs Seat and the MCG's new zipline and roof walk; existing events will be injected with new life; and there will be more ways to experience wildlife, and more reasons to hit the water, than ever before – not to mention new places to eat, drink, sleep and be merry.
Here are 17 new reasons to visit Victoria in 2017:
Arthurs Seat Eagle
Launching December 2016, just in time for the busy summer season, the much-anticipated gondola ride will allow visitors to get a bird's eye view of the Mornington Peninsula. The Arthurs Seat Eagle will have 24 gondolas, and the ride will take 15 minutes each way, reaching a summit of 314 metres.
The Australian Open will move one step closer to the city in 2017, with the newly opened Tanderrum Bridge. Not only will the new bridge act as the new entry point to Rod Laver, it will directly link the city centre and Birrarung Marr to all the action at Melbourne Park. Other new initiatives include $5 tickets for kids, a free opening weekend concert series at Birrarung Marr, and a new-look Grand Slam Oval themed around Paris, London, New York and Melbourne. 16 – 29 January.
The Book of Mormon
In an Australian premiere, The Book of Mormon - the first Broadway Musical by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker - will land in Melbourne in January. Resulting in sell-out seasons wherever it goes, this cheeky musical has already sold out the first month of its Melbourne run. Opens 18 January at the Princess Theatre.
Cruise ships are increasingly transport of choice for a growing number of visitors to Melbourne and there are a record 99 ships scheduled to call into Victoria's ports during the 16-17 cruise season. This will include inaugural visits by Seabourn Encore, a new five star luxury cruise ship that will visit both Phillip Island (4 February) and Melbourne (5 February), as well as first time visits by Maasdam, Emerald Princess, Norwegian Star, Azamara Journey and Sirena.
Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts
For the first time ever, Melbourne will host the Asia Triennial of Performing Arts (TOPA) from 13 February to 6 March. The festival of Asian-focused performance and culture will present performing, visual, screen and literary arts programs, commissioned works and collaborations between Australian artists, and artists from the region. It will be hosted at and with Melbourne arts venues and companies including Arts Centre Melbourne, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Federation Square, and Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
AFL Women's League
Australia's first national women's Australian Football League will kick off in 2017. The inaugural season is scheduled to begin in February with eight teams competing, including Carlton, Collingwood, Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Brisbane, Greater Western Sydney and Fremantle. In keeping with AFL tradition, Melbourne will be at the centre of the national league and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) will host the season's Grand Final.
White Night Ballarat
For the first time ever, White Night Melbourne will be joined by a regional counterpart, with the inaugural White Night Ballarat set to take place on 4 March – two weeks after the Melbourne event. White Night Ballarat will showcase the city's heritage streetscape in a whole new light with projections on some of the city's most historic buildings. In another first, both events will be under the artistic direction of David Atkins OAM.
Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands
Slated to open on 28 March, Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands will offer 273 guest rooms and suites, all with city or water views, as well as a fitness centre, pool and free WiFi.
Hyatt Place Melbourne
Hyatt Place Melbourne will be located in the Essendon Fields development, and will be Australia's first Hyatt Place hotel. The eight-storey hotel will offer guests a free hot breakfast and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Food truck precincts
The City of Melbourne will establish five permanent food-truck precincts in March, which will house a mix of 17 permanent and rotating trucks. The sites will be on St Kilda Road (outside the NGV and Arts Centre); Peel Street (next to the Queen Victoria Market); Les Erdi Plaza on the Yarra River (near Arbory Bar & Eatery); Batman Park (opposite Crown); and the underpass on the corner of Spencer and Flinders Streets.
Boutique accommodation at Willow Creek Vineyard
Early in the year, Willow Creek Vineyard will open a new boutique hotel called Jackalope. The Flinders (Mornington Peninsula) property will consist of a 46-room luxury hotel, 30-metre infinity pool overlooking the vines and an 80-seat fine dining restaurant. At the same time, Willow Creek will reopen its eponymous cellar door and restaurant, which is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment.
World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards
One of the world's most prestigious food award ceremonies will take place at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building on 5 April. Melbourne. The annual World's 50 Best Restaurant ranking has become the most coveted lists for the world's best chefs. As the official host city of the 2017 event, and only the third host city in the world (after London and New York), more than 800 of the world's culinary elite will descend on Melbourne – cementing the city's reputation as a global food destination and trend-setter. The annual Melbourne Food & Wine Festival will coincide with this major international awards program, positioning Victoria at the centre of a celebration of food and drink culture on a scale never before seen in Australia.
Australia's first Legoland discovery centre will open at Chadstone Shopping Centre in autumn. Specifically designed for families with children aged three to 10 years old, it will include two Lego rides, five themed 'build and play' zones, build classes from the Legoland master model builder, special party rooms for birthdays and other celebrations, a 4D cinema, and an exhibit designed to reflect Melbourne's buildings, skyline, and landmarks.
The Goulburn River Valley's newest accommodation offering is due for completion mid year. Mitchelton Hotel will sit alongside Mitchelton's restaurant, its Ministry of Chocolate café, and cellar door. The 4.5 star hotel will feature 58 rooms, a day spa and swimming pool, and easy access to nearby bush walking and cycling tracks, Goulburn River cruises and wineries.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys
Eco tourism operator, Robert Pennicott, will launch Wilsons Promontory Cruises from Tidal River, South Gippsland, mid year. The wilderness cruises will allow visitors to explore the spectacular waterways of the area and learn about the history, culture, flora and fauna of Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park.
Located at Melbourne Airport, URBNSURF Melbourne will be the first man-made surf park facility in Australia when it opens late in the year. Thanks to clever, wave-generating technology, visitors of all abilities will able to have an authentic surfing experience whatever the weather - without a beach in sight. And LED lighting means keen surfers can visit both night and day.
Melbourne Cricket Ground zipline and roof walk
Plans are currently underway to develop a new Roof Walk at the MCG. The new attraction will allow visitors to walk on the roof of the iconic MCG, taking in spectacular views of the ground itself, as well as Melbourne's sporting precinct more broadly and the city skyline. A zipline will also be added to transport thrill-seekers from the city-end scoreboard to a landing on the opposite side of the stadium. It is anticipated the attraction will launch in 2017.
To see a more extensive list of Victoria's new events, attractions and openings for 2017, visit: http://www.piecesofvictoria.com/2016/10/whats-hot-in-Melbourne-and-Victoria-2017