Melbourne has been celebrating the White Night Festival every February for the past six years, and like so many other fabulous creations, we must say “merci beaucoup” to the French for establishing the Nuit Blanche tradition back in 2002. Melbourne may not be world renowned as the City of Light, but we certainly try our mightiest to put on a spectacular show and deliver something unique that reflects the spirit and evolution of our wonderful city. Although not classically beautiful like Paris, Melbourne must have that certain je ne sais quoi to be awarded the “most liveable city” seven years running, and we are pretty chuffed about that, just ask us.
With a focus on artistic innovation and creation, White Night is the magical metamorphosis of the inner city into a wonderland of light installations, street performances, music, and special exhibitions. The theme this year was Fractured Fairytales, presenting childhood stories reimagined for the modern age. The installations are laid out across the city, transforming historic buildings, laneways, parks, and streets into an alternate universe for one night only.
The most dazzling displays are projected around the cities most beloved cultural institutions, such as the Arts Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, the State Library of Victoria, and Federation Square. The city lights up for 12 hours from 7pm until 7am, with the largest crowds between 9pm and midnight. Many of the families begin to subside around midnight and I personally found the crowds quite manageable around 3am. I set my alarm and drove into the city to photograph the event specifically, as you wouldn’t ordinarily find me roaming the city streets that time of night. I spent about two hours walking through the city and found the installation at the State Library of Victoria the most impressive, especially the interior dome that been transformed into an underwater garden. On the steps of the library there was a protest to raise awareness of Melbourne’s growing homeless population, which garnered plenty of support from those flocking to see the light installations.
Overall, I had a wonderful night viewing my city from another perspective. If you were planning on attending, you can check the current program and proposed dates here. Plan your visit in advance if you do find the chaos of large crowds a struggle as you may wish to seek out the wee hours of the morning instead.