Sometimes things become so successful they are destined to fail. In 2013 my social media feed was abuzz with White Night – there was not one negative comment made, quite the opposite. Comments ranged from “amazing” through to “best night of my life ever”. How can anyone top that?
When: 7pm – 7am, 20-21 February 2016
Where: Through out Melbourne’s CBD (as well as 20 other major cities around the world), check website for details.
Cost: FREE (and some ticketed)
Last year I desperately wanted to head into White Night but I had a best friends 40th dinner and a husband interstate for work, I couldn’t expect my babysitter to stay till 3am while I went into town and partied after the 40th – nor did I want to get up at 7am and function as a parent the next day; that opportunity just wasn’t going to happen. Instead the next morning I lived vicariously through my Facebook and Instagram feeds and heard from the different friends who went in how amazing/mind blowing it all was.
Fast forward to 2014 and again my planets were not aligning to let me out after dark into the CBD – I did however have a small window where I could head into town with Charlie (5) and catch a tiny bit of the action.
White Night officially begins at 7pm. I am not sure there is any special “launch” moment, but at 7pm some of the activities kick off (obviously not the ones involving projections on buildings – they happen after sunset and are best viewed 9pm onwards).
Charlie and I got into Melbourne at 6pm just before the roads were closed and we made a beeline for Federation Square where we enjoyed take away sushi while watching a street performer, followed by an ice-cream cone inside the Atrium (from the Beer Deluxe cafe near the entry to NGV Australia) and then some play time down in the playground outside ArtPlay on Birrarung Marr.
At 7pm ArtPlay opened it’s doors for its White Night event Happy Circles, an activity for families that ran until 11pm. It was a fun little construction/craft activity that gave families the opportunity to decorate a circle with recycled materials, each circle makes up part of a huge banner – now hung across the back of the ArtPlay building. From beginning to end the activity took us about 20minutes.
After we finished at ArtPlay we walked back along the Yarra to St Kilda Road enjoying the buzz in the air. St Kilda Road /Swanston Street had since been closed to traffic and was now a pedestrian zone and was filled with people enjoying the vibe and possibility of the night ahead. It was still daylight – but silent discos where taking place and people were heading in all sorts of directions.
There was a food precinct set up on the grass lawn area outside the Arts Centre (next to Hamer Hall) and over in Alexandra Gardens there was also things happening. There was a crowd milling outside the NGV and also lots of people moving towards Southbank and also in the general direction of the city. It was only 7.30pm but it was already getting pretty crowded! Charlie and I kept a tight grip on each others hands as we headed up to the tram stop (trams into the city now finished at the Arts Centre).
It felt like New Years Eve (lots of people were dressed in dress ups and “funny clothes”) but more relaxed. I guess given it’s a 12 hour event and there is no alcohol, in those early hours it’s all about the excitement of being there and enjoying the city in a new light. (Click here for more images)
Charlie and I were on our tram by 7.50pm and headed home.. as much as I wanted to see the buildings lit up and some of the installations I am realistic that my 5 year old needs to be in bed before 8.30pm – staying any longer would have been pushing my luck.
This year my social media feed was filled the usual hero shots of projections on buildings but it was also littered with comments like: “too crowded” “can’t move, this sucks”. I have since heard horror stories of parents who went in at 9pm and feared being separated from their kids in the crush and spending ages just getting from one spot to another. I also know of some people who gave up and never made it across Princes Bridge. I guess when attendance figures jump from 300,000 to 600,000 something’s gotta give.
I do have friends who approached White Night in a completely different way – a brilliant flash of the obvious you could say. They got the kids up at 5am and went into the city – just a few stragglers left blowing about with the litter. They walked all around the city and saw all the projections without any crowds.