The number of attendees at Melbourne’s annual festival of light smashes last year’s record by 80,000.

Melbourne’s free one-night festival of brilliant illuminations and quirky street performance, White Night, drew a record-breaking crowd on Saturday evening, with 580,000 people turning out to the watch events across the Victorian capital. The number of attendees smashed last year’s record by over 80,000, and almost doubled the number of people who came to the inaugural White Night in 2013. However, with the lowest overnight temperatures recorded since the event began – a low of 12 degrees – the streets were significantly clearer later in the night than in previous years.

Lisa Roet’s golden monkey on Melbourne’s Town Hall

Stretching from the Royal Exhibition Centre in Carlton Gardens to the arts precinct on St Kilda Road, 130 events and installations were on offer at this year’s White Night. Among the most ambitious spectacles were a number light shows using cutting-edge projection mapping technology. These included an impressive display by Portuguese light-artists OCUBO, which transformed the grand facade of the Royal Exhibition Building into a dynamic canvas, while another, Still Here by indigenous artist Josh Muir, brought the grey stone walls of the National Gallery of Victoria to life with a vibrant animation. A giant golden monkey, by artist Lisa Roet, clambering up the Roman columns of Melbourne Town Hall, was one of the event’s more unusual offerings. 

One, by Josh Muir

In previous years, White Night organisers have been criticised for the lack of crowd management and poor access to facilities. However, improvements to public transport, greater availability of event information and more stewards on the ground have improved many of the shortcomings of previous years, despite the marked increase in attendance. A spokesperson from the Victoria Police also confirmed there had been no major incidents or injuries at this year’s event. Artistic Director, Andrew Walsh, issued a statement yesterday declaring 2016’s White Night a success. “Last night was an incredible night, Melbourne turned out with joy in its heart. White Night again exceeded expectations,” he said. The State Government announced on Saturday that White Night would return in 2017.

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