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5 of Australia’s Best and Brightest Light Festivals

Summer or winter, sometimes the best way to see a place is when the sunsets or after dark… especially when it’s lit up by hundreds – nay, thousands – of twinkling lights. It’s an ethos that Australia certainly agrees with anyway, boasting dozens of light-based celebrations all over the country every year. Feeling illuminated? Here’s when to plan your holiday so it coincides with Australia’s best and brightest light festivals:

Vivid Sydney

WHERE? Sydney, New South Wales
WHEN? 27 May-18 June 2016

Light, music and ideas come together each year in the Harbour City for Vivid Sydney. This technicolour festival takes over the New South Wales hub, illuminating buildings with light-infused artistry, creating a buzz with a vibrant night market and getting back to nature with the Garden of Light installation at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney – to name just a few.

But the real jewel in the crown is the iconic Sydney Opera House. By night it is transformed into a rainbow of light, with colours flickering across its surface in a thrilling, perfectly-choreographed display.

To find out more about this year’s highlights, check out our dedicated article on the festival.

Field of Light

WHERE? Uluru, Northern Territory
WHEN? For one year only, from 1st April 2016 – 31st March 2017

Boasting 50,000 solar-powered balls of light, this huge, remote piece of artwork by Bruce Munro is an exhibition like no other. Described as an ‘art phenomenon’ by Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, it offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience, where visitors will catch a glimpse of a desert blanketed in light, alongside the mighty Ayers Rock (Uluru).

Field of Light was one idea that landed in my sketchbook and kept on nagging at me to be done,” explains Munro. “I saw in my mind a landscape of illuminated stems that, like the dormant seed in a dry desert, quietly wait until darkness falls, under a blazing blanket of southern stars, to bloom with gentle rhythms of light.”

He adds: “Field of Light is a personal symbol for the good things in life.”


WHERE? Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
WHEN? February/March 2017 (exact dates tbc)

Lights! Canberra! Action! Enlighten may be over for 2016, but that just means now is prime time to start planning for next year’s festivities. When the sun goes down over the Aussie capital, the festival comes to life, showcasing features such as inflatable giant animals lit up from the inside and search lights illuminating the night sky to create fairy tale buildings, forged of colour and light. A plethora of musical acts also perform across a rainbow of stages.

White Night Festival

WHERE? Melbourne, Victoria
WHEN? February 2017 (exact date tbc)

For one night in February, Melbourne is transformed. It is brought to life with illuminations, creativity and culture for White Night, a festival inspired by a French concept that translates to ‘Nuit Blanche’. There are no dark corners in the streets and alleyways – instead these become radiant and awakened by street performers, as well as celebrations of film, music and dance. For 2016 the festival organisers went above and beyond with an installation known as ‘The Big Top’ – a circus-like precinct complete with aerial displays of death-defying acrobatics. If that’s what 2016 offered – who knows what goodies 2017 will bring…

Swan Festival of Lights

WHERE? Perth, Western Australia
WHEN? November 2016 (exact date tbc)

Since 2008, the ‘Swan Festival of Lights – Celebrating Deepavali Together’ has been illuminating the Perth foreshore with a heady concoction of colours, rhythms and flavours – celebrating a fusion of Indian and Australian cultures. A feast for the senses, it sets the entire region alight with a range of Asian cuisine, bringing together different communities for three days of free, family-friendly festivities. For a snapshot of last year's festivities, check out the video below.

Speak to one of our Travel Experts about tailor making your Australia holiday to incorporate Vivid Sydney, the Field of Light or any other festival. 

Written by Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. 

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