White Night Reimagined – a guide to getting started

White Night Reimagined is taking advantage of winter’s extended darkness and spreading across three consecutive nights. The 2019 program is bigger than ever, so start planning around these highlights on Thursday 22, Friday 23 and Saturday 24 August.

This year, the eye-popping, mind-bending experiences will be centred around Birrarung Marr, the Carlton Gardens and Treasury Gardens. Although some major institutions outside these parks will be activated as well. From projections and light sculptures at the museum to a continuous concert inside the Arts Centre, Melbourne’s imagination will be on fire.

Birrarung Marr: the Physical Realm

A highlight experience in this riverside realm is Globe, by Dutch performance company Close-Act. This mix of music, circus, dance and projections will feature 41 performers on, in and around a 16-metre structure. Acrobatics, visual splendour and illusion are also at the heart of Heliosphere, which has been performed in 64 countries since its debut in 1998. Find out why this aerial dance act by the UK’s Dream Engine never gets old.

People in a park at night gathered around a glowing purple orb exhibit

The Globe is coming to White Night

Carlton Gardens: the Spiritual Realm

There’s plenty that’s new and different about this year’s event, but some things are too good to change. Yes, the mighty White Knight Messenger is coming back to spread more love and compassion. This five-metre-high futuristic archangel with six-metre-wide wings will be brought to life by eight puppeteers and performers and will be joined by other Blanck Canvas creations.

There’s their surreal Swan Sisters, and this Melbourne company’s largest creation to date, The Guardian. Animated by seven puppeteers, this lion-like creature is 10 metres long and covered with crystalline shards that change colour and glow.

Anyone who’s into creatures that glow – hello, kids! – will also love an installation that’s already been a hit at White Night Bendigo and White Night Geelong. Spirit Creatures gathers lots of giant lanterns in the form of plants and animals, both Australian and mythical, around the Carlton Gardens’ lake. The Spiritual Realm hosts an awesome display of aerial artistry too. Loved is an inspiring performance on dramatically lit, nine-metre-high towers, accompanied by an emotive soundtrack.

A large glowing angel figure floating above a crowd of people

The Messenger returns

Treasury Gardens: the Sensory Realm

Don’t miss Sensoria, a massive projection mapped onto the grand Victorian facade of the Department of Education building that explores our five basic senses. It’s being conjured by The Electric Canvas, the Australian company behind large-scale and architectural projections for many major events around the world. We’re talking Olympics and Sydney Harbour Bridge major.

Waterlight Graffiti by French artist and designer Antonin Forneau has already literally made a splash in Austria, New Zealand, the US, Canada and Israel. Now it’s Melbourne’s turn to brush and spray his wall of LED lights with water. It illuminates when in contact with H2O, and fades as the water evaporates, so have a go with the motto of ‘the wetter the better’.

Head along to Cocoon and see how your heartbeat affects its external lights – or literally get into it by crawling inside. You’ll be surrounded by the virtual heartbeats of friends, family and strangers. Another Sensory Realm highlight is Cluster, an immersive audio-visual installation by Barcelona studio Playmodes. A stream of data will be transformed into images and sounds in real-time for this exploration of the relationships between space, time and perception. Sounds like something Dr Who would really go for.

More highlights at Melbourne’s cultural institutions

Once again, some of the city’s major cultural institutions are staying open late and presenting some amazing limited-edition experiences. BlakHEART at Fed Square the perfect lead in to White Night, kicking off at 11am on Saturday 24 August.  Celebrate at this nine hour party of First Nations creativity including art, dance music and more. The Electric Canvas are bringing more of their projection magic to the State Library of Victoria’s grand domed La Trobe Reading Room. Where Do Books Come From? promises to be a journey of discovery in imaginary, factual, historic, geographic, biographic and fictional worlds.

A sensational symphony of roasting chestnuts, fondue, spiced wine and more awaits at the Royal Exhibition Building during the White Night Feast, on the first night of festivities. Executed by chefs from Vue de Monde and Du Fermier – with sweets supplied by dessert queen Phillippa Sibley – this evening of foodie fun is well worth the price tag. Book ahead to and ensure you don’t go hungry.

For a more frugal offering, pop into 13 bars for their take on toasties and hot toddies. Think Thai bolognese toasties from Chin Chin, apple schnapps creations at Madame Brussels and black pudding with whisky béchamel combos from Whisky and Alement.

A toasted sandwich with caramel sauce drizzled on it in front of an apple cider cocktail

The apple and caramel puff pastry toastie from Madame Brussels

At NGV International, Deadly Questions showcases the artwork of Aboriginal Elder Marlene Gilson, while Chasing the Light is the creation of New Zealand’s Steve Carr. His six-channel video projection puts viewers inside a fireworks display, as each screen shows footage captured by drones chasing pyrotechnic action from different angles and altitudes.

The vast multi-level subterranean labyrinth that is Arts Centre Melbourne has inspired a five-hour continuous concert that will happen just once, on Saturday 24 August. Superdrone is a site-specific sound installation by a secret line-up of artists drawing on the long tradition of drone music, from didgeridoo and ragas to techno.

On Thursday and Saturday only, Melbourne Museum is presenting Blak Night/White Night by Australian art-technology duo PluginHUMAN. Their projections and LED light sculptures are inspired by museum artefacts created by Australia’s First Peoples and people of the Pacific islands. This event includes eye-popping projections on the Royal Exhibition Building next door.

Blue and green projections lighting up the inside of a library

White Night projections at the State Library

Getting there and getting around

PTV will be running trains, trams, NightRider buses and some SmartBuses during White Night. Check the PTV website for details on additional services during the event. The Night Network doesn’t run on Thursdays, so you’ll need to plan ahead. Public transport isn’t free during White Night, so make sure you’ve got your myki handy! As always be mindful of road closures, traffic, trams and others during the event.

Follow White Night on social media for the most up to date information during the event. White Night is presented by Visit Victoria.