Monday, February 25, 2013

White Night Festival Melbourne

After a hot and sticky day scrounging around our little town's wonderful Annual CFA Flea market, jumping on castles, face painting, gathering treasures and questionable objects, we journeyed to the city to explore Melbourne's first ever White Night Festival.

Sometimes Melbourne's big city events can sound better on paper. We have not always had a rollicking good time at Moomba, New Years Eve or Australia Day Festivals. They can be too busy, uneventful, poorly coordinated, oversubscribed, and highly commercial.
Unlike the Melbourne's Southern Star, White Night was no white elephant.

We began our journey as the sun was setting, heading underground down steep stairs into Campbell Arcade.

 There were minute spaces to peer inside, small worlds to explore, the middle Bowerbird spied nanoblocks and was hooked. An all night Zine marathon had already begun in earnest at the Sticky Institute.

 We took off our shoes and danced in an interactive soundscape, a cacophany of sounds and objects to explore, eerie masks gazing at us, dangling hands to shake, and then a generous bite of complimentary Indian desert to delight in.

 We emerged from the subway to see Swanston Street and Flinders Street filled with people, it is so wonderful to see the roads reclaimed. Although it was all thoroughly above board, the mad throng of humanity looked like anarchy. Sweet Jazz tunes called from Degraves St, asking us to explore laneways, but we headed to Fed Square which was hilariously jumping to Zumba, and then the Nutbush.
 These professional looking cleaners were ever so seriously making people brighter, shoes were vacuumed, hair brushed, nails cut.

 I found my dear friend Kathy Holowko and the beautiful caravan she made in the Atrium.  There was already a huge queue to visit Amoment so we peered inside the peep holes, wondered at what was happening inside, chatted and moved on.

 As the sun went down Melbourne exploded into a technicolour Moroccan feast. It was joyous to see our otherwise beige and grey buildings lit up so royally.


 We ventured inside The Forum to discover a 3D psychadelic world of lights and sound.  The Big Bowerbird had to wear a wrist band to show that she wasn't 18, I smiled in wonder that there could be any question of her youth, she is getting so big, we now meet eye to eye. The night was sultry, like a Darwin holiday, this was a great spot for a cool drink and a rest.

 Everywhere we turned there was music, art and something magical. We had no plan for the evening, but the city unfolded joys to us at every turn. I had the White Night app but never referred to it.

The musical fountain on the Yarra  "From the Deep" which we waited patiently, and then a little impatiently for (there is only so long you want to watch fruit bat antics) was divine, and a highlight for the children, "mum its incredible, its like a squid, like a tentacle".

The only unpleasant part of the evening was battling the 300,000 strong crowd to get to the Arts Centre, some people can be so incredibly pushy shovey and it became a scary space to navigate three children safely through. Amazingly the little Bowerbird went from being thoroughly animated and excited, to asleep in our arms as we passed the Spiegeltent.

I was so relieved to lay the little Bowerbird's heavy body down on the floor of the NGV's Great Hall as we watched foam dance and pour. Art gazers could not resist the urge to lift the security rope to touch the foam and launch it flying through the air. The gallery has never felt so busy or laid back, people were sprawled over the entrance floor doing graffiti. The atmosphere in the Great Hall was electric, like we were part of something special. I must confess we didn't leave without feeling a little foam, such a tactile sculpture, who could resist? I hope French artist, Michel Blazy didn't mind us touching his work.

At this stage all that was left to do was to get back home, there was no suggestion of carrying that heavy sleeping little one any further than necessary, at 11pm the other Bowerbirds were also looking very bleary eyed, it was close to 1am by the time we caught a tram back to our car and drove home. It was such a spectacular evening, I would have liked to stay all night and explore the never-ending nooks and crannies, to listen to music, and frolic. However, it was wonderful to share White Night with three wide eyed, children. Looking forward to doing it all again next year, maybe with a place to stay in the city so we could do some shifts with the kids. There was so much I would have liked to see but missed, thankyou to the organisers for this magical evening dedicated to the arts.


  1. It looks like it was absolutely fabulous. i was only really aware of it the next day when the radio was full of stories from it. Oh well there's always next year.

    1. I was lucky to have a friend who was participating in it so I heard about it a while ago, it sounds like we will get at least another two White Nights, I hope they're as fabulous as the first.

  2. Oh my god that looks so amazing and i wanted to be there the whole time. You got some awesome pics....that is so so great. xx

    1. thanks Amber, I feel very lucky that we went, I had no idea how wonderful it would be

  3. What an amazing night that was! Thanks for taking us with you on your adventures. I've never seen anything like that foam before (or the whole event, really!). Wonderful!

    1. So proud of Melbourne pulling off such an awesome event and the foam was great - a first for me too

  4. White night looked fantastic. Aren't those building illuminations just the best? We have something similar in Sydney during the winter months called vivid. That foam was so interesting and your art gallery rocks, how beautiful that room is

    1. I've been to Sydney's vivid, and saw some beautiful projections on the opera house and great art happenings around the rocks. I adore the contemporary art gallery in Sydney, such a magnificent location too. Blessed with so much enchantment in both our cities.

  5. First of all i would like to thank you for the great and informative entry. Never had an idea about this, will look for more of such informative posts from your side.
    Good job Keep it up.
    Corporate Entertainment Melbourne

  6. Quality post!!! it is a nicely written post with so many good facts ! Thank you for sharing it with us!


In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young