16 – 29 January
Sure the international players are the major drawcards, but off the court there’s just as much action thanks to appearances by interstate and local chefs. This year, Sydney-based Josh Niland has brought his hero dishes from Fish Butchery and Charcoal Fish to Melbourne Park, including his much-loved double yellowfin tuna cheeseburger. Melbourne Nomad’s Jacqui Challinor is making her debut appearance, serving up rock oysters with Nomad Worcestershire; prawn sandwiches; mushroom and bone marrow empanadas; and house-made charcuterie. Andrew McConnell is also hosting Supernormal; and Shane Delia is doing snazzy snack boxes from Maha, while the Penfolds Restaurant and Rockpool Bar & Grill will both return.
Melbourne Park, Vic, ausopen.com
LUNAR NEW YEAR
22 January – 9 February
In 2023, we’re celebrating the Year of the Rabbit or Cat – it’s the one year that the Chinese zodiac and Vietnamese zodiac differ, with most of Asia celebrating the Year of the Rabbit while Vietnam celebrates the Year of the Cat. Celebrations, customs and even the duration of the Lunar New Year festivities vary between East and Southeast Asian communities. But food – and plenty of it – is a common thread.
Head to Spice Temple in Melbourne or Sydney for its Lunar New Year banquets with plenty of auspicious dishes – pipis representing fortune, handmade longevity noodles with crab and XO for long life, dumplings for great wealth and red ingredients like cherry tomatoes and Wuxi pork ribs for prosperity. Available till 28 February in Sydney and 29 February in Melbourne. Book here.
In Perth, Sydney and Melbourne, you can also head to Silks for Lunar New Year banquet menus. Ranging from $138 – $388 per person, the set menus promise festive Chinese foods, with varying dishes like yusheng (prosperity salad), Hong Kong-style coral trout and sautéed lobster with longevity noodles. Perth and Melbourne’s LNY banquets are available until 29 January, while Sydney’s is available till 5 February. Book here for Perth, here for Melbourne and here for Sydney.
Also in Sydney, harbourside fine diner Aria has a seven-course tasting menu to celebrate the holiday, with dishes such as Peking duck consommé with abalone and shiitake and red braised Wagyu short rib with oxtail. It costs $300 per person and is available for lunch and dinner till 4 February. Book here.
If you’re looking to get your partner a dazzling gift, head here. But for those who prefer to go beyond the roses and jewellery and like to celebrate the romantic holiday with a feast, there are plenty of leading Australian restaurants serving one-off Valentine’s Day menus this year.
Etta in Melbourne’s Brunswick East is offering a four-course, ten-dish sharing menu for $120 per person. The venue made it onto our most recent Good Times list thanks to its subtle, clever and delicious dishes by head chef Rosheen Kaul and cracking wine list, plus affable staff led by owner Hannah Green. Book here.
In Brisbane, Hervé’s Restaurant and Bar is hosting its first Valentine’s dinner, featuring five coal-fired courses in its NYC loft-style space. The set menu costs $150 per person and includes dishes such as quail with mushroom, pancetta and hazelnut, lobster with carrot and ginger foam, and strawberry and passionfruit fool for dessert. Book here.
In Sydney, head to Shell House which is offering three distinct Valentine’s Day events. In the Shell House Dining Room, you can celebrate with the Lobster + Chablis event which, as you may have guessed, is centred around the luxurious pairing of lobster and rare and unique chablis wines, available by the glass. The menu also includes dishes such as coral trout with burnt butter and green almond, pork and truffle ravioli, and salted caramels for dessert. In the ground-level Menzies Bar & Bistro, there’s a $165 set menu of scallop crudo, Moreton Bay bug ravioli and dry-aged Wagyu sirloin tagliata. While at Sky Bar, you can experience a “feast for the senses” as part of Classic Contemporary, where you’ll sip, snack and listen to four stunning records and live interpretations by the Shell House Band. Book here.
Or, you could simply book a dinner at one of the best restaurants in Australia – from destination dining in Tasmania to New York-inspired Italian restaurants in South Australia.
Keen for a romantic getaway instead? Book one of these top luxury stays for couples here.
17 – 19 February and 24 – 26 February
Over two weekends in summer, Tasmania’s iconic MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) will host a program of art, music and everything in between events. Vendors will be serving food and drinks at the certain showings (including the Old Tafe and Mona Sessions, Book Club, The Party, and Bon) but no word on menu details just yet. However, it’s a good opportunity to explore the best of the region, including MONA’s inhouse dining options The Source, with its exceptional wine list, and Faros Tapas Bar & Restaurant, an immersive art and dining experience. Further afield Fico in Hobart, GT’s 2023 Tasmanian Restaurant of the Year, and neighbouring favourites Institut Polaire and Peppina are going very good things, as is Stillwater in Launceston.
Launceston, Tas: 17–19 February and Hobart, Tas: 24–26 February, monafoma.net.au
SYDNEY WORLDPRIDE 2023
17 February – 5 March
WorldPride – aka the world’s biggest pride party – is coming to Australia this year, and it’s set to be huge. From a star-studded First Nations Gala, exhibitions and parties in art galleries to queer film festivals, groundbreaking theatre and Kylie performing at the official WorldPride Opening, there are a lot of events descending on Sydney this summer – including the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade which is returning to its home on Oxford Street. Some of the WorldPride ticketed events are sold out, but there are plenty of free events that you can still attend.
Of course, you’ll want to book some glamourous dinners at the best restaurants in Sydney (and NSW) too.
Sydney, NSW, sydneyworldpride.com
17 February – 19 March
Australia’s largest arts festival is back to transform Adelaide and greater South Australia for 31 days this summer. Ticking off everything from cabaret, theatre and comedy to circus, music and art, it’s one of the top events to happen in Adelaide each year. Check out the website for the full program and ticket information and start planning your trip. Just be sure to extend your stay so you can hit up some South Australian wine country and best restaurants, too.
Adelaide and regional South Australia, adelaidefringe.com.au
MEENIYAN GARLIC FESTIVAL
Who doestn’t love garlic? Arguably the best ingredient in almost any dish, garlic is getting the celebration it deserves this February at the Meeniyan Garlic Festival. Held in the Victorian town of Meeniyan, located in the South Gippsland region, the event is a one-day love letter to the allium, complete with an alfresco dining precinct, live entertainment and kictchen demonstrations.
Meeniyan, Vic, meeniyangarlicfestival.com.au
SOUTH WEST CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL
Busselton’s South West Craft Beer Festival is taking over Signal Park this year with more than 150 brews from 20-plus local breweries. The day promises everything from food trucks to live music – and, of course, plenty of ice-cold beer to sample.
Busselton, WA, swbeerfest.com.au
25 – 26 February
The precision and purity displayed by Tumbarumba wines makes it one of the most underrated and exciting regions in Australia. The cool climate pinot noir, chardonnay, sparklings and emerging varietals are best tasted with a view of the vineyards from which they came. Hit Tumbarumba this February for Tumbafest which is held on the banks of the quaint little town’s river.
Tumbarumba, NSW, tumbafest.com.au