“A night like no other: From dusk til dawn White Night Melbourne will transform the city into an all-night wonderland with over 80 free events celebrating music, food, film, art and light.” White Night Melbourne
It’s 2am of the inaugural White Night Melbourne and my friend and I are waiting for The Cat Empire to come onto stage, under the iconic clocks of Flinders Street Station. Our conversation has strayed from the night’s wonderful entertainment to just how much we love Melbourne… and how, sometimes, it takes leaving a place before you truly begin to appreciate it.
My friend had recently shifted to Queensland for work (a commitment of two or three years), but the weekend trip ‘back home’ was giving her pause for reflection; a glimpse of the things she loves and misses about Melbourne. A similar thing happened to me, about 12 years ago, after I headed west for Perth. Back then, I was always running away from Melbourne; I think because I was uninspired by my work. I would commute to the city in peak hour on a crowded train (some things never change) to work in a series of shitty jobs that I just couldn’t care about. It was a means to an end, saving money for my true passion, which was travelling, preferably a long way from Melbourne.
It was only when I flew home for a week’s holiday (after about six months in Perth) that I began to see Melbourne in a new light. For the first time I was a tourist in my own town and it was something of a revelation. I realised that, deep down, I really loved this city and that this is where I belonged… at least between trips overseas.
There is always something going on in Melbourne and the tagline for White Night Melbourne – celebrating music, food, film, art and light – actually sums up this city nicely, all year round. Just add in some of the world’s biggest sporting events and you’ve got it in a nutshell. I love going to the theatre, trying a new restaurant, cycling the bike paths, going to the MCG for a game of footy, and checking out a new show at the Comedy or Arts festivals each year.
White Night Melbourne is the latest endeavour for the city, inspired by international Nuit Blanche network – that commenced in Paris in 2002. There are now 23 cities around the world hosting these all-night events, including Buenos Aires, Montreal, Amsterdam and Kyoto, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to experience a diverse array of shows.
My favourite moments from Melbourne’s big night were the concerts at Flinders Street Station (aka the Theatre of Dreams), including Ross Wilson belting out Eagle Rock and The Cat Empire rocking the crowd; some very bizarre art, including a sheep’s heart frozen in an ice sculpture and a variety of shoes hanging above Flinders Lane; the laser show on the Yarra River; and the light shows that completely transformed some of Melbourne’s iconic buildings, including the State Library and the National Gallery of Victoria.
But the biggest highlight was Wonderland:
“Bringing Wonderland to life and evoking memories of grand illuminations and re-imagined carnivals, The Electric Canvas will transform the Flinders street-scape into a magnificent fantasy land for all. Wonderland will be one of the largest projection projects mounted in Australia, with installations running from the Forum Theatre to St Paul’s Cathedral, including an animated piece at Chapter House.”
One of the projections showed a poem running across a building including the words: “this city speaks to me” – and I thought that was perfect. This is another great festival in a really great city, and I’m so glad I live here. Below are some photos from this year’s White Night Melbourne, as well as some links for other big events in Melbourne. Do you have a favourite event? Let me know in the comments below.
Other events in Melbourne:
- Melbourne International Comedy Festival
- Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
- Moomba Festival
- Spring Racing Carnival
- Melbourne Writers Festival
- Melbourne International Arts Festival
- Australian Football League Grand Final
- Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam
- Australian Grand Prix