Behind New Year’s Eve Festival When Pigs Fly — with directors Benny & Liam

In this article, When Pigs Fly directors Benny Rausa and Liam Alexander spill the beans on the legend and lore behind the farmiest New Year’s Eve festival in Melbourne. No oink goes unanswered, no paddock is off-bounds, and the story behind the mystery peacock is revealed (or at least, hinted at). Suffice to say, it’s time to go off chops in pursuit of full cream.

When Pigs Fly is a one day festival held on New Year’s Eve at Collingwood Children’s Farm. It’s pretty unique in that the location is a farm in the middle of the city, the festival is open-air and all day (extending past midnight), and it has 2 stages running the whole time. That’s a lot of space, in a short amount of time, in a pretty iconic location, and on the biggest night of the year - so as far as events go, the pressure’s on! Tell us about how you got you onto the idea of founding a New Year’s Eve festival?

There have been so many great New Year’s Day festivals in recent years, but we felt like New Year’s Eve was being short changed. It was the same circular chat among our friends every year – wondering which house party was going to pop off, or if we wanted to save ourselves for New Year’s day and not go out at all. We loved the idea that [When Pigs Fly] could become such an annual staple that we never had to ask that question again. As we’ve grown older, we wanted a party that we actually wanted to go to, not one that we felt was too loud, too hot, too busy, or in a venue we didn’t love.

Location is a big part of When Pigs Fly and this year, you’re back on home soil at Collingwood Children’s Farm. What’s the rationale behind holding WPF at the farm and not a venue/club/etc?

The Collingwood Children’s Farm is the best location in inner city Melbourne for any music event, and we’re lucky to have the opportunity. Liam spent a lot of time toddling his way around the place when he was 3 feet high, and we still hold a great appreciation for the significance of the space to the wider community. The fact that music is a growing part of the farm DNA is super exciting, but we wanted to design an event that was considerate of [the farm’s] roots and primary purpose.

‘When Pigs Fly’ is a common saying that generally means something might never happen or that something rarely happens, like ‘once in a blue moon’. Who came up with the name and what’s the intention behind reclaiming it for the festival (which is definitely happening)?

Liam came up with the name while looking up farm related idioms, and swiftly sought Benny’s approval. We wish it was a better story! On second glance it’s more like hyperbole anyway…

This year marks the second round of When Pigs Fly, after the inaugural event in 2022. The lineup includes 14 performances across 2 stages, with icons like Andras & Oscar, Colleen Cosmo Murphy, Trojan Sound System, Surprise Chef, and up-and-coming local talents like Canisha, Immy Owusu and so on. This time round, what are you each most excited about? ...And what can punters expect to be the same and different, from last year’s offering?

Andras & Oscar soundtracked our late teens/early twenties, and we spent a lot of time listening to them early on in our friendship. We’ve wanted [to book Andras & Oscar] for a very long time, and it would be remiss of us to play it cool that it’s actually come to fruition!

Last year was year one, and so came with all the growing pains of a small child. In 2023, we’re focused on improving the (boring but important) operational side of the festival (think toilets, bars, service), but will have some feature bars for cocktail specials, and some other little surprises decorating the place.

You’ve both worked in the local music and event industries in Birrarung-ga/Naarm (Melbourne, Australia) for a long time. Between the 2 of you, you’ve worked on so many projects as bookers, founders, programmers, DJs, and more, spanning Lucid… Lounge… The Night Cat… Colour… Something Unlimited… Runner Up… and now, When Pigs Fly… just to name a few! Obviously there are no favourites (can’t be, all animals being equal and all). If all of these projects were siblings in a big family (a barn, if you will), how would you describe When Pigs Fly? (3 words, or a sentence!)

A baby Meredith. (we love you Meredith!)

Throwing a New Year’s Eve party isn’t for the faint of heart and some of us in the When Pigs Fly crew have heard the cockcrow about that famous pre-COVID New Year’s Eve party that was kind of a proof-of-concept for WPF. Tell us about your most unforgettable New Year’s Eve to date – who were you with, what were you doing, what were you listening to, and what made it so special?

As usual, we were together! Back in 2016 or 2017, we ran a (highly legal) house party in a converted motel in Flemington. It had the pool filled in with dirt and had become a sharehouse (read: squat), but still had all the old intercoms and a palm tree, plus a huge basement. We put a too-massive sound-system in there and absolutely sent it. Unfortunately, our ‘no rsvp, no entry’ policy was made redundant when a hoard of disgruntled ravers kicked over a 10 metre long fence, and came streaming in, but it was definitely one for the ages*. I think we brought in the New Year with a Benny edit of Tiesto, but if anyone asks we’ll deny it.

*Special mention to the 2 angels who had so much fun that they came back in the morning and cleaned the whole place.

This year’s incredible artwork features a must-have pig (oink) and a mysterious peacock (if you know, you know). The river seems self explanatory. Can you tell us about your favourite lore / hidden gem story, experience, or lesser known fact about Collingwood Children’s Yard?

When Liam was a kid around 4, his mum took him down to the Farm (as was custom for a Clifton Hill baby at that age). After he’d learnt where the potatoes came from, and saw the carrots, he demanded to know where lamb chops came from. The visit was cut short.

Jokes aside, it goes a little unnoticed to the music punters that the Farm performs a really great function for kids who are learning about the world! We’re lucky to be tacked on to that, but if you’ve got young kids, get down there on a normal day!

It’s actually kinda a cute date spot too.

And for the people who don’t know the story behind the peacock… any hints on what that’s about?

We recently found out they are mad pests who are not welcome, and cause great destruction to the Farm, so we shouldn’t promote those naughty birds. But they are very beautiful!

What would you say to punters who are stuck on deciding between being on the Paddock or in the Barn for the magic moment (11:59pm) this year? …And where will you be?

That’s why there are 2 of us. I think both will have their moments, and I’m pretty sure there is a fence you can sit on to see and hear both stages.

Okay before we let you go, one more question. You’re both no strangers to throwing a party or having a good time, so what are 3 pieces of advice you have for punters ahead of this NYE?

Drink water, tell your friends you love ‘em, and don’t forget to call mum!


Come to the cutest New Year's Eve party in Melbourne :)

pig peacock