The Melbourne International Arts Festival and White Night are set to merge, combining to become a new winter festival from 2020.

Lagrime, Lagrime di san Pietro, Melbourne FestivalLos Angeles Master Chorale’s Lagrime di san Pietro at the 2018 Melbourne International Arts Festival

“From 2020, we will be transforming into a bold new winter festival that celebrates Melbourne’s arts and culture, our culinary strengths and everything that makes our city tick,” the Melbourne International Arts Festival said in a statement. “Backed by the Victorian Government, the new festival will combine our creative ambition with the wide public engagement of White Night Melbourne to create an ambitious new event of scale not yet seen in Australia.”

“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 Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley.

The new festival follows Artistic Director Jonathan Holloway’s final Festival this year – the program for which will be announced in mid July – and the Melbourne International Arts Festival is in the process of recruiting a Creative Team to curate the new festival, which will be operated by a strengthened Melbourne International Arts Festival board and organisation.

“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,” Melbourne International Arts Festival Chair Tim Orton said.

White Night Melbourne, now in its seventh year, was previously an all-night festival. This year it will be held over three nights in August, with events running to midnight on Thursday and Friday, and 2am on the Saturday.

It remains to be seen exactly how the two events will be combined, but the Melbourne International Arts Festival’s announcement says: “Under this new and expanded format, we will be able to present, produce and commission more art, in more venues, to more people than ever before, operating at a scale that will genuinely transform the city.”