A White Night District Guide


More than 300,000 people attended last year’s White Night and this year is set to be even bigger. The event will expand significantly to encompass 11 exciting precincts and will stretch from NGV to Alexandra Gardens and Melbourne City Baths to Melbourne Museum. New ground is being forged within the program with all night synchronised swimming and a huge laser lighting up the sky, as well as more music stages, more dance moves to learn, and more city landmarks transformed by projected animation. To help you make sense of an almost overwhelming line up of events we’ve put together a guide to each district so you can start your planning now.

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights district is one of the biggest on the bill (when it comes to surface area) and offers an eclectic mix of events. It spans from Melbourne City Baths down to Lonsdale Street and includes RMIT, the State Library, and the Wheeler Centre.

Catch Moonlight Synchro in the Baths where Victorian Synchronised Swimming Incorporated (VSSI) will perform their mesmerising sport for spectators. Then cross the road and enter RMIT for public lectures, staff and student exhibitions, and your last chance to catch Music, Melbourne and Me at the RMIT Gallery. Next check out some local talent at the Northern Lights Music Stage (programmed by the Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl) or head inside the State Library – it’s open all night for you to explore.

Following the success of last year’s write-a-thon, the Wheeler Centre will this time give 12 writers 12 hours to create a collective work of fiction titled The Book of the Night. Help them along by feeding plot points and suggesting characters or just play the voyeur and watch them battle fatigue.

UPDATE: White Night have just announced a new installation set for the SLV dome called Molecular Kaleidoscope – ‘Virus one billion times’ by acclaimed artist Drew Barry. The molecular structures of several high human impact viruses – such as the flu, HIV, SARS, polio, and smallpox – will be projected onto the 100-year-old dome. Accompanying the 40-metre high hovering viruses will be a musical score by producer Franc Tétaz (Gotya, Kimbra, Wolf Creek).


Lucky Dip

Lucky Dip is the central Swanston Street district where you won’t know your prize until you unwrap it. Charismatic and engaging performers will be dishing out one-on-one theatrical encounters to passers-by and creating a carnival atmosphere rich with sideshow follies. Cruise through the galleries within this district and you can sip champagne with models from performance exhibition A Vogue Idea. Upwards of 30 models will be recognisable by their identical outfits and willingness to share a conversation. This district covers Elizabeth Street to Russell Street and Lonsdale Street to Bourke Street and is where you’re asked to mingle, interact and take part in the art.


J + R&B

Bourke Street Mall will be the city’s biggest dance floor as music fans gather around the J + R&B music stage. Curator Julie O’Hara knows a thing or two about mixing genres and she’s put together a plethora of musicians playing everything from jazz to R’n’B. Wear some comfortable shoes because this club does not have a curfew.



The Shadows precinct stretches from Bourke Street to Collins Street and includes both City Square and St. Michael’s Uniting Church. Venues throughout this district will house visual and sonic feasts such as an artificial total eclipse, a new interpretation of Tim Winton’s the Turning, and thought provoking installations such as Forgotten and Above the Sound of Many Voices. This district will provoke contemplation of those big concepts: life, death, and the world we live in.

There’ll also be opportunities to get interactive with The Skies are on the Ground, where your shadow becomes part of the art and Print Bot (Series I) where your everyday objects take on bizarre new forms.


Rags to Riches

From the Paris end of Collins Street down to Elizabeth and across to Flinders, Rags to Riches covers Melbourne’s fashion heartland (keep an eye out for FashGif images) and celebrates a thriving laneway culture. Here you can catch Nathan Kaso’s amazing Miniature Melbourne (a short tilt-shift time-lapse film capturing Melbourne’s landmarks over 10 months) or Nic Kocher’s series of cinemagraphs The Absurdity of Infinity. Proceed to have your sense of depth and perception altered by a sculpture made of laser light, smoke and shadows then stroll down Flinders Lane to get your craft on with Etsy at CAE.



The return of projected animations along Flinders Street will turn part of the city into a Wonderland of colour and light. Spanning from Elizabeth Street to Russell Street and including ACMI, Fed Square, Flinders Street Station and the Ian Potter Centre, you can wander and wonder around this precinct for a mixed bag of unique events.

I Could Have Danced all Night will return to Fed Square and invite you to bust a move or even learn a new step or two. St Paul’s Cathedral will host En Masse a part concert, part film installation celebrating life and nature. Discarded objects will become elaborate sculptures in Robbie Rowlands’ ambitious new work Fractured. A tax will turn into a movie theatre in the ranks outside Flinders Street Station and the Melbourne Now exhibition will be open all night at the Ian Potter Centre. Beware of paparazzi as you explore because you may have your photo snapped by the crew at Melbourne Silver Mine; they’ll be onsite taking long exposure photos for the entire twelve hours.

ACMI’s doors will be wide open on the night including the cinemas, galleries, ACMI store, kitchen and bar. Spectacle: The Music Video Exhibition will still be running along with a bunch of additional events. Join 200 people in a simultaneous ViewMaster experience, watch a compilation of some of the most astonishing title sequences, or take some time out in the ACMI Lightwell – a sound and image soaked chill-out zone.


The Vortex

The Southbank Pedestrian Bridge leading to Southgate Shopping Precinct will become an immersive vortex of light. Walk through the light tunnel and disappear into a sparkling, flickering cocoon.



The Midden precinct sees the addition of Birrarung Marr to the White Night map. Here you’ll be provoked to consider the relationships between body and space and the blurred lines between the virtual and the physical. Artist such as Eness and Riza Manalo explore the concepts of place and pay homage to the traditional owners of the land.


Alex and the Engineer

Southernmost precinct Alex and the Engineer sees Alexandra Gardens, Melbourne Boathouses, and the Yarra River join the festival. Walk through immersive works of light, film, sculpture and music that transform the garden, take a galactic journey through the solar system inspired sculptures that adorn the pathways and be on the look out for paste-ups by Melbourne artist Rowan Williams. Then get up close and personal with the Crepuscular Beam, you’ll be able to spot it from a mile away.

Tattooed City

This year the Art’s Precinct takes on the name Tattooed City. Tattooed Melbournians will be projected onto the external walls of NGV in tribute to the increasing popularity of body art. When you step inside you’ll find the gallery open with both Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion and Melbourne Now exhibitions running all night.

The Tattooed City also includes the Testing Grounds where shadow puppets, short films, and large-scale chalk drawings will entertain an all-ages audience; Hamer Hall where Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff will be playing the most expensive piano in the world; and the Princes Bridge where you can watch a compilation of the 20th Century’s most important speeches.


Outer Limits

You may have to jump on a tram to get to the Outer Limits but exciting projects will be happening at locations off the grid. The first venue to be announced is Melbourne Museum where you can peruse the Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style exhibition or settle in to IMAX where Skyfall will be screening at various times throughout the night.


Words: Alix Palmer

Published by Everguide 13 January 2014. Images from White Night official website.