When the sun sets on Canberra in early March, the capital’s most celebrated buildings will be under the spotlight once again for the eighth annual Enlighten festival.
Over two weeks of bright nights there will be family-friendly events throughout the city, including popular exhibitions, rare films, light installations by The Electric Canvas, live music and even stand-up comedy. As the lights go on across the Parliamentary Triangle visitors can also tuck into some authentic Asian food at the insta-worthy Enlighten Night Noodle Markets, now in its fourth year.
Nicole Warren, who has put on the creative director’s hat for the fourth consecutive year, says Enlighten Canberra 2018 will have one key player.
“This time the lake is a big focus, we really want to use it as an inspiration point. We’re currently working on a performance that’s literally going to use Lake Burley Griffin as a central character,” Ms Warren says.
What started in 2011 as a contained series of impressive light installations has grown into a grand multi-venue experience of architectural projections and unique performances that shine a light on Canberra’s man-made beauty.
“I really love that it’s a planned city, it’s kind of quirky because it’s not organic. Canberra is a dream, there are huge open spaces and it’s mostly flat, especially in the Parliamentary Triangle. The buildings are stunning and with that huge body of water it really is a beautiful place to be, particularly at twilight,” she says.
Ms Warren says Enlighten allows visitors to discover the capital in a way it cannot be seen during the rest of the year.
“You’ve just got these beautiful, big iconic spaces that are really important to Australia and we want to showcase that. A huge part of Enlighten is the national cultural institutions. They open their doors with amazing things happening in their spaces and have great illuminations on their buildings. Sometimes it’s the only time a visitor might experience the Parliamentary Triangle, the zoo or the Botanic Gardens in that way. These locations really step up by creating one-off experiences which you can only have during Enlighten.”
Events such as Enlighten Canberra have helped cement the city as a serious cultural contender, and have attracted local and international guests year after year.
“Enlighten really showcases just how contemporary and innovative Canberra is. Over the last few years we’ve been able to present really big spectacular works and invite international artists that only come to Enlighten, so you can only see their work in Canberra. We want to create a unique experience, these participants aren’t just jumping aboard the tour train, you literally need to go to Canberra if you want to experience their work,” Ms Warren says.
And although Enlighten last year attracted almost 300,000 visitors, she says there are plenty of spaces to avoid the masses.
“There are places where you can step away from crowds and have a more intimate experience and then pop back into that lively festival atmosphere. We design works that have a limited capacity on purpose,” she says.
While the projections run all 11 nights, there is even more to see when the sun sets on the weekends.
“It’s on the Fridays and Saturdays we really crank up the volume. But then during the middle of the week it’s a great time to walk around and just experience the projections,” she adds.
March 2, 2018 to March 17, 2018
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