Festivals – White Night Melbourne 23/02/2013

NYC is well-known as ‘The City That Never Sleeps’, however, last Saturday it was Melbourne that decided to pull an all-nighter.

Originating in Paris in 2002, this year marks the debut of the family-friendly international-yet-localised arts, music and culture festival, White Night, in Australia. Dates have already been booked for late February in 2014 and 2015.

My friends and I found ourselves aimlessly walking around in circles viewing the same attractions two or three times from a different perspective each time.

We started out with a short stroll from Flinders Street Station to Birruang Marr for the water/light show. A boat located in the Yarra River shot out a 40m high water fountain with a rainbow of laser lights illuminated through it.

By Lillian Altman
Photograph taken by Lillian Altman

Through Federation Square and we were faced with the Forum Theatre’s heritage facade emblazoned with mesmerising coloured mosaic projections. The adjoining buildings were each decorated with a different image. Inside, the venue featured 3-D visuals matched with electronic music to party to. The facade of the small building alongside St Paul’s Cathedral also featured a short succession of animations.

Photograph taken by Lillian Altman
Photograph taken by Lillian Altman

Onto the laneways and we were met with a different feature each corner we turned from coloured inflatable cones, graffiti, mosaics, projections and music. We were utterly disappointed to miss out on the Degraves Street jazz performances due to a fight that broke out between audience members, which meant we couldn’t gain access to the city’s coffee central.

For something a little bit different we headed to the National Gallery of Victoria which featured a bubble foam installation conceptualised by a French artist. The room became a refuge for me because it was air conditioned – which I can assume was so the foam wouldn’t disintegrate –  became a nice relief from the summery temperatures outside. In what is generally not accepted at any art gallery, the onlookers were allowed to touch, play with and manipulate the piece.

Photograph taken by Lillian Altman

Everywhere we went people were snapping away in amazement at the spectacular imagery each event and exhibit brought forth, with some brave enough to lug their camera tripods throughout the night in a crowd of 300,000 plus. Federation Square was continually packed with different styles of dance being taught from the stage throughout the night.

Powerade, coca cola and a midnight snack kept our energy levels up on our 9-hour nocturnal adventure as we awaited the 2am performance of The Cat Empire.

Only two of us from my group of friends made it to this point, with the rest heading home, too tired to continue traipsing the festival’s night wonders.

As the band’s performance drew closer, we migrated to Flinders Street Station where the famous steps under the clocks were modified to feature a small stage for local bands to perform on.

Photograph taken by Lillian Altman
Photograph taken by Lillian Altman

While awaiting for the band to arrive on the stage a man was arrested for climbing up onto one of the traffic lights, grabbing everyone’s attention then jumping off (he was egged on). A few others also thought this was a good idea, resulting in minor damage.

The Cat Empire re-energised those who were starting to nod off with a set well over an hour until 3:30am. They were joined by Lenny and the Eli Dancers on the small stage. Video cameras were there to capture the band and audience as they performed their second single, Steal The Light, from their upcoming album, which will feature in the track’s film clip.

With our new found energy we continued to explore the city until 6am. Towards the crack of dawn we spotted a few people who’d fallen asleep before being able to muster up enough energy to head home. The clean sweepers came into view before the conclusion of the event removing the mountains of food wrappers and bottles that had accumulated on the streets.

Overall, I believe the debut of the festival in Melbourne was a success. Everywhere I turned people were taking photos and looking up and down and left and right while their faces were lit up in awe. I’ve never spent so much time in the city at night time before and can truly say that I had a wonderful time exploring the streets and laneways in a different light. Despite putting time into planning which events we wanted to visit, we ended up stumbling upon other amazing attractions that caught our attention.

Photograph taken by Lillian Altman
Photograph taken by Lillian Altman

Did you enjoy the festival as much as I did?

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