Highlights from Melbourne’s 2016 White Night

Who saw Melbourne White Night last Saturday?

I did! And I thought it was great. For those of you who don’t know about White Night (I recognise my international readers, HEY!), it is a 12-hour street festival that integrates art and architecture throughout the city. Visual artists are given the chance to display light and sound presentations on the inner and outer-walls of city buildings as a means to celebrate the city, its talented artists and the greater community. For those of you who went, what were some of your favourite features?

 The National Gallery of Victoria’s exterior light show.

The National Gallery of Victoria’s exterior light show.

 Circus acts like this silks performer lit up Carlton Gardens.

Circus acts like this silks performer lit up Carlton Gardens.

White Night is quickly becoming a popular tradition in Melbourne – it is one of the many festivals that punters eagerly anticipate. The most difficult part about White Night is managing the increasing growing crowds, leaving many to question when is the best time to attend the all-night event. In my experience, heading out around 11PM works best, for me. By 11PM, the early punters are beginning to disperse, finding their ways home, especially families carrying children along. Also by 11PM other early-bird punters are beginning to transition to the bars for a pick-me-up quencher. But bear in mind, when heading out at 11PM, plan on staying out until anytime between 3-5AM in order to see as much as you can – there is still a large crowd to manage so queues will be long.

 Pirate mania from Scratch Warehouse performers.

Pirate mania from Scratch Warehouse performers.

Regardless when you make your way out to the event, what I noticed this year were some new additions to the celebration. I absolutely adored the circus performances that were scattered throughout Carlton Gardens. The silks performance was stunning and kept the attention of many when I was there. I also enjoyed bumping into many musical performances scattered down Swanston Street and side streets.

 Alexandra Garden’s elegant dress display.

Alexandra Garden’s elegant dress display.

And then my eyes spirit really lit up when I saw Scratch Warehouse come down Swanston Street as a pirate ship. Performers from Scratch Warehouse dressed all in white garments, painted their faces white with black circles around their eyes and formed themselves into a skeletal design of a pirate ship. As I peered at the passing pirate ship, I found myself joyfully chuckling and appeased to see something different amongst the light shows on buildings and walls.

Did anyone catch those stunning dresses displayed in Alexandra Gardens? They were an elegant addition to the gardens. Set up like a fashion museum exhibition, these Victorian era dresses changed colours from green to purple to red to pink to white. Simply stunning!

 AQUA VITAE on the Yarra River.

AQUA VITAE on the Yarra River.

My favourite presentation was the light display on the Yarra River between Birrung Marr and Alexandra Gardens. Designed on a geyser of water reaching for the sky, the team of Melbourne Water and Russell Goldsmith (Sound Designer and Composer) presented a light show that transitioned from forms, shapes and colours to the beat of mellow-transic music. It was certainly a beautiful wonder to witness.

 The Golden Monkey recognises the year of the Monkey in Chinese culture.

The Golden Monkey recognises the year of the Monkey in Chinese culture.

Unfortunately, everybody is a critic. Some punters took to Twitter to rant about their personal disappointment regarding the lack of a light display at Flinders Street Station. I’m sure the White Night committee members had very good reasons to not display at Flinders Street Station, and, to be fair, there were MULTIPLE announcements on their Twitter feed and website clearly stating that Flinders Street would not be illuminated. What I wanted more of were presentations by independent performance companies – where are my dancers at? Where are my theatre makers at?

 ACMI lights up along Flinders Street.

ACMI lights up along Flinders Street.

I hope the City of Melbourne continues bringing us White Night. It’s a great way to integrate both architecture and art during an all night street parade.