What is White Night?
When I Googled this question I was awarded with the answer of ‘a sleepless night’. This was certainly the case for White Night Melbourne 2017. An outstanding night of art, installations, lighting, exhibitions, street performances, film and music, White Night Melbourne brings the city alive from 7pm till 7am. This year was Melbourne’s 5th White Night, after its first one in 2013. Melbourne isn’t the only city to host such an event, the Russian city of St Petersburg was the first city to host a White Night festival, other popular festivals take place in Paris, Rome, Naples, Leeds and Montreal.
This year the theme for White Night Melbourne was inspired by the French writer and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who quoted “Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is gone, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again.” This year’s White Night was made up of 4 different themes: Flames and Fantasy, Precipitation and Enlightenment, Swing Central and Innocence Returned.
Flames and Fantasy
Carlton Gardens hosted a number of exhibitions attributed to the theme ‘Flames and Fantasy’. In this area the most eye catching and impressive exhibition was Rhythms of the Night at the Royal Exhibition Building. In fact it was probably my favourite attraction of the night. It was colourful, scary, exciting and the Royal Exhibition Building was used as a canvas for this piece. Other notable exhibitions in this area included Pyrophone Juggernaut, the largest fire organ in the world and Nebulous, a tall sculpture depicting imaginations of earth as seen from the moon.
This section had the best atmosphere of the night. Here we stumbled across an all night dance marathon where the professionals and the public were dancing (or at least trying to dance) along to big band music. The dancers on stage were dressed up for the occasion and interacted with those happily watching by getting them to join in with some simple steps! It was an energetic and joyful atmosphere and I would happily have stayed there dancing for most of the night!
Precipitation and Enlightenment
Running through the most central area of Melbourne’s CBD, Precipitation and Enlightenment played host to attractions such as Fingers of Light, Neon Angel Wings, The Night Garden and Purple Rain. The Night Garden projection onto the State Library of Victoria (like all projections on the night) was extremely impressive. Purple Rain although a little underwhelming was a great idea in theory. At this exhibition they played an orchestral version of the song ‘Purple Rain’ while gatherers stood under sprinklers and purple lights with an umbrella.
This most southerly area could be found across the River. It was pretty easy to spot with the large ‘LOVE THIS WAY’ sign and the 20 foot giant bunny rabbits in the Alexandra Gardens. I also thought ‘The Medusa’ a giant, majestic floating jelly fish that changed colour, extremely impressive. This area was a little quieter and I’ve read some of the reviews online that claim the area lacked atmosphere, however I enjoyed the little break away from the crowds!
Top Tips for Melbourne White Night
Tip 1: It’s gonna be a late night!
I was warned to do this by a number of veteran White Night goers and I’m glad I listened to the advice. Don’t head out too early. I got very excited at the idea of projections going on throughout the city but I’m glad Carolyn and I didn’t head out until 10.30pm. Firstly it is a long night. We stayed out until 4.30am, 6 hours of walking and dancing around the city we were pretty tired by the time we got back to our flat.
Also the exhibitions look better once it gets dark. For example, the projections on the Royal Exhibition Building and Flinders Street Station can only truly be appreciated once the lights are out! If it’s not completely dark then the colours cannot be appreciated to the same extent. Additionally the crowds start to die down at 1-2am so you get more of a chance to view the different exhibitions.
There is a huge police presence at the event and there wasn’t a point during the night that I felt unsafe. There was a bit of action down at Federation Square at 1.00am but I was near the area and didn’t actually notice a thing!
Tip 2: Wear your comfy shoes
It felt a little odd heading out to the city on a Saturday night in Nike trainers and a Jungle Book hoody but we walked around 18,000 steps throughout the evening so I was glad I was in my comfortable clothes.
Tip 3: Avoid the crowds
If you are going to view the exhibitions the crowds can get a little waring after a while. Going out a little later can solve this however also what order you view the exhibitions can help for a quieter journey.
Enchanted Serendipity gave us a a wonderful tip and I wanted to pass it on. Start away from the exhibitions by Melbourne Central and all the way down to Flinders Street Station. Begin your night up at the Carlton Gardens as the area is pretty open so you feel like you have a little more space and there were definitely a lot less people in this area than the CBD itself.
Tip 4: Plan, but don’t feel pressured to stick to it
During the day we researched some of the exhibitions we wanted to go to. If we hadn’t we definitely would have missed a number of the smaller exhibitions without meaning to. However on the night you find things look better on paper than they do in real life and vice versa so don’t be too disappointed if your pre made plans aren’t as good as the bits you stumble across!
Would I go to White Night again?
Hell yes! We were warned by a number of Melbourne residents that White Night is a bit of a disappointment. I didn’t find this at all. Maybe it’s coming from a small rural area in Scotland but the idea that artists, musicians, designers and organisers can come together and create such a unique event that 500,000 people attend is astonishing to me.
It showed Melbourne off as the fun and unique city it is. If I am ever in the area at this time of year I will definitely go again!
Like it? Pin it?