Home | travel blog | Melbourne’s White Night Festival -Magical Or Mayhem?

White Night, a one night only festival in Melbourne’s CBD (downtown), is a celebration of colorful lights, live music, and good food.

White Night is much more than that, although, it’s a little hard to explain exactly what it is. When someone first explained it to me I dumbfoundly scratched my head.

“Wait”, I asked, “They light up the city, by projecting pictures of buildings….on buildings?” 

I was confused, yet intrigued and White Night instantly went on my list of things to do in Melbourne.

When the day finally came in late February, excitement filled me as I exited the train, unsure what the city would look like.

The first thing I saw when leaving the train station was tourists, locals, and expats. Thousands of them awe struck and staring at the building I was leaving.

I turned and looked at Flinders Street Station and I was shocked at what I saw. All my nervous expectations about this festival were immediately met, and for the first time I understood exactly what this festival was about.

White Night takes the city’s buildings and turns them into cartoon style art. Every few minutes, the projections change, lighting the buildings in different themes, colors, and patterns.

White Night extends throughout more of the city than I anticipated. And a great bucket list idea

After a few minutes of walking, I had already seen several performers on stages, people walking around in colorful outfits, and others starting dance parties by pushing through the crowds while carrying boom boxes on their shoulders.

All Melbourne’s downtown shops, businesses, and bars host vibrant and lively celebrations each doing a different theme.

White night goes from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., but I would head to the city around midnight. You will have to fight fewer crowds and all the exhibits are still open.

White night was everything I wanted and more.

Melbourne is already a great city with a progressive, and cool vibe, however, the city takes on an extra buzz this during this festival, and if you are around Melbourne, or planning a backpacking trip to Australia around February,

White Night should be on your list of things to do in Australia.

The only down side about this night is you have to fight through thick crowds during the first few hours.

At some points I was crammed so tight that someone’s elbow was in my check and later someone  laid their head on my shoulder because they had nowhere else to put it. I mean, I like meeting new people, but buy a guy a drink first. Gezzz.

I suggest going a little later, no earlier than ten. It will make for fewer crowds while still getting the most out of the night. This little adventure is full of fun times.

Check out my White Night Travel Video, and Be Sure to Follow to Get More Travel Videos.

10 thoughts on “Melbourne’s White Night Festival -Magical Or Mayhem?”

  1. This is so cool! They look amazing. I wish I’d know about this when I was living in Australia. If I get the chance to go back, this will be a must! I’ve been to White Night (or Nuit Blanche) many times in Montreal and there’s always so many fantastic art, drama and just plain random events going on (gumboot dancing being one of my most memorable!) I definitely recommend it if you get the chance 🙂

  2. I also attended the White Night Festival this year. It was my first experience of such a festival yet I think my final impressions of the event was a little different to yours.

    I agree the exhibit on Flinders Street was very impressive and there was a similar impressive display on the Forum Theatre.

    However, when I looked at all the build up in the media in the week before, the actual experience was a let down. All the other exhibits were for me too few and too far between. The map for the festival indicated lots of things, easy to find on many of the main streets or just there off.

    We walked around the city from around 9:30 – 11:30 pm I then returned out between 1:30 – 3 am. There were still a lot of people wandering around at this time, yes it was still crowded to a fair degree. The thing is that more people were intoxicated too.

    For a city like Melbourne I also found the street performers to be of limited quality. This is in comparison to the day time street performers who are all over the CDB and South Bank, never difficult to find.

    I also reflected on the experience of the festival on my blog and published a You Tube video.

    I suppose that is the thing about these festivals, we all have differing experiences and opinions. It is good to hear though that the night was more enjoyable for you.

    1. True. Maybe because I didn’t read any of the hype, all I knew about White Night was from word of mouth.

      It was crowds were hectic, but I think it was worth going to. I’m glad you shared you opinion, and I wished you would have had a better experience!

      1. Me too Stephen, maybe if I’m in town next year when it is on I’ll enjoy it more. For one thing my perceptions will be different so that will help.

          1. Hi Stephen, no I left the end of February. I tend to visit once/twice a year. You have a fabulous city for a home base. If I was in your position I may look to extend beyond a year 🙂

  3. White Night Festival In Melbourne is one of the best festival to see. Though I am residing at Nowra Australia I love to travel in Melbourne when it is celebrated for me to be part of the event.

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