We've waited a long 18 months for the 2019 – and possibly final? – edition of White Night. From Thursday, Melbourne's iconic event returns in a renewed format. Here's what you need to know.
Hang on, isn’t White Night in summer?
For the past six years White Night has been held in balmy February. This year, the Victorian government moved it to winter to plug an alleged gap in the tourism and events calendar.
Does it still go all night?
No. The all-night art party is no longer. On the upshot, you now have three nights to check out all the attractions. Installations and performances will be activated from 7pm to midnight on Thursday and Friday, and from 7pm to 2am on Saturday.
Birrarung Marr will be teeming with acrobats.Credit:Chris Hopkins
Where is it happening?
The main precincts are Birrarung Marr (the ‘Physical Realm’, starring a lot of acrobats), Treasury Gardens (the "Sensory Realm", with lots of interactive installations) and Carlton Gardens (the "Spiritual Realm", a bit more low-key, with some roving art). Don’t forget the NGV, State Library and Arts Centre.
Are there road closures?
With the exception of parts of Landsdowne Street and Wellington Parade next to Treasury Gardens, city streets remain open on Thursday and Friday. But on Saturday, Spring Street, the east end of Flinders Street, Batman Avenue as far as Birrarung Marr and St Kilda Road down to the NGV are all closed.
Treasury Gardens has lots of interactive installations, including Amigo & Amigo’s ‘Cocoon’ – a giant hammock that changes colours to people’s heartbeats.Credit:Luis Ascui
Will there be extra trams and trains?
Yes. There are additional train services after 9pm until the last service on Thursday and until 1am on Friday. On Saturday the City Loop will stay open until 2am, with extra services on all lines until 3am. The regular Night Train service runs hourly after those times on Friday and Saturday.
Get contemplative in the ‘Spiritual Realm’ at Carlton Gardens with installations such as Spirit Creatures.Credit:Luis Ascui
Will it be cold?
Duh. It’s winter. Check the forecast before you head out, rug up and make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes. You’ll warm up once you start walking around.
Will it be crowded?
Yes, but probably less so than in previous years. Organisers are predicting more people than last year (700,000+) but that figure is spread over three nights, and with most of the attractions in parks, there’s more room to spread.
This year’s State Library work continues last year’s theme with an immersive projection story taking viewers into the heart of books.Credit:Luis Ascui
Where do I eat and drink?
There will be a food truck hub in Carlton Gardens, on the west side of the Royal Exhibition Building near Rathdowne. Or try special edition White Night toasties and cocktails at Arlechin, Bar Tini, Boilermaker House, Bomba, Chin Chin, Cumulus Up, Fancy Hanks, Lee Ho Fook, Madame Brussels, Magic Mountain Saloon, Mamasita, Press Club – Projects or Whisky & Ailment.
Will there be a White Night next year?
Maybe. From 2020, it will be merged with Melbourne International Arts Festival into a new, big-budget winter arts festival that the state government hasn’t named yet. Given the popularity of White Night, we’re tipping the program will still have heaps of free public art at night. Whether it retains the name "White Night" as a sub-brand, or for the regional White Nights in Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong, is unclear.
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