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10 things to experience at our Birthday Party

June 5, 2018

Happy Birthday, Visa Wellington On a Plate! 

Take yourself back to 2009. John Key was our freshly minted Prime Minister. We flocked to cinemas to watch Avatar and the Black Eyed Peas had a “feeling.” My Kitchen Rules wasn’t around, and Instagram didn’t exist, so our #foodporn snaps were relegated to Twitter, Facebook and Bebo (R.I.P.).

More importantly, 2009 was the first year of Visa Wellington on a Plate, which means it's time to celebrate this epic food festival hitting double digits.

From modest beginnings, the first VWOAP had just 43 menus and 30 events. Fast-forward ten years – there's over 130 events to pick from and hundreds of cafés, restaurants, food trucks and bars serving up a head-spinning number of burgers, cocktails and festival dishes.

The 2018 party edition of NZ's premier food festival is packed fuller than a piñata with treats and surprises – experience it for yourself to believe it. So whether you’re a seasoned pro or need an excuse to visit Wellington, here's a starter for ten of what VWOAP is dishing up to get you in the celebratory mood to eat, drink and be Welly:

1. Fit in not 1, not 2, but…. 180 Burgers 
It's fitting that VWOAP's big tenth year also brings the biggest Burger Wellington yet with a whopping 180 burgers on offer. Taking inspiration from the festival's theme of ‘party’, spot cues from your favourite party food staples: Bebemos' Fowl Play cornflake-crusted chicken burger uses toasted fairy bread in place of buns; Hillside’s #ThatKidInClassHasAParty beef burger is decked out with chippies, saveloy and a fairy bread milkshake; and new eatery The Fermentery are getting a head start on their first birthday with a Birthday Banger Burger.

2. Dine on dishes fit for any party 
Dine Wellington brings a mouth-watering selection of special Festival Dishes and set menus to the VWOAP potluck party. Concrete Bar & Restaurant celebrate the first meal of the day after partying (no, not a 3am kebab): breakfast. I know I'm not the only one who thinks that ‘brinner’ is a solid option. Topor Bistro will serve up a menu inspired by Polish Easter, and a Polish party wouldn't be complete without plenty of pierogi (Polish dumplings with savoury and sweet fillings) and other national dishes. In Asian cultures it's good luck to eat noodles on your birthday (they signify longevity), so Mr Go's five-foot noodle dish is perfect for this occasion.

 (Pictured: Shaun Clouston of Grill Meats Beer's creative take on a burger for the 2018 shoot (not actually a burger entry); The Third Eye's Brewed to the Bone Burger, a collab with Wilson BarbecueCapitol's 2017 Festival Dish; Crumpet is joining Cocktail Wellington for the first time)

3. Discover epic cocktails to toast with 
No doubt there'll be a lot of toasting to VWOAP's birthday, so you'll need a drink or two on hand. Cocktail Wellington has you sorted, whether you want something classy like Capitol's Native Martini with Reid+Reid gin and honeycomb, or something weird and wonderful like Khandallah Trading Company's Mangoes into a Bar featuring rum, Greek yoghurt and fresh mango. For a grown-up version of a kids party favourite, pop into Burger Liquor for a wicked Return of the Pink Panther ice cream float.

4. Earn that burger
We've got our party food and drinks sorted – we just need some dancing to kick our celebrations up a notch. Dance instructors Shut Up & Dance are giving you the chance to live out your 90s pop fantasy with Boogie & a Burger, a double-header dance class and burger session. The Dukes of Sandwich food truck will be on hand to provide the refreshments when you're done shaking your tailfeather.

5. Celebrate the ‘uncelebratable’ 
Say my name, say my name...New York-based Kiwi photographer and food artist Henry Hargreaves takes an unlikely source of inspiration (the official list of banned baby names) to present a photographic food-filled exhibition at Precinct 35 of Birthday Celebrations That Will Never Come(Shout out to The Wellington Company and Park Hotel for helping make this exhibition happen)

6. Dine in your car
For me and my friends, our childhood birthday parties weren't complete unless they involved watching a movie and eating copious amounts of junk food. Wellington's waterfront will become a 1930s-themed Drive-In and Dine Cinema – watch a film while enjoying burgers and beverages delivered straight to your (car)door.

7. Go Back to the Eighties 
It's the decade that'll never go out of fashion – because it never was in fashion in the first place. Dust off your neon tracksuits, tease that hair up and get ready to get into the groove as Café Polo wants to go back to the Eighties. There will be plenty of 80s-themed finger foods and cocktails, and a prize for the best dressed.

8. Attend a next-level Hen's Party 
No veils or phallic props will be required at this Hen's Party. Instead, it's a chicken run through a seven-course "beak to feet" degustation complete with matching cocktails. You'll be up all night to get plucky.

9. Feast like Vikings 
Brace yourselves for an un-Thorgettable banquet fit for Odin. The good folks at Sterling Welcome you to Valhalla to indulge in rustic Viking dishes washed down with plenty of wine, beer and mead. This definitely will not be a "Loki" party.

10. Say it with cake
No party is complete without a cake – even when said cake is a big F.U. to someone who's wronged you. At Black Friday, Kate from Tomboy will take you through a cake decorating demonstration before you get your chance to let someone know how you really feel, through the delicious medium of cake. Revenge has never been sweeter. Goody two-shoes have the alternative Pink Sunday event if they'd rather show some love instead. 

11. And one for good luck
Even though it's Visa WOAP’s birthday, you're the ones getting the presents. There will be plenty of giveaways, so keep an eye on our social channels and eDM for your chance to enjoy the spoils. If you feel like winning a trip to Singapore with Singapore Airlines, sing-in and make the most of the awesome favourites feature on by shortlisting what gets you salivating.