White Night Melbourne is one of the most exciting and vibrant times to visit Melbourne’s CBD. It takes over city streets, parklands, laneways, public spaces and cultural institutions of Melbourne’s CBD, from the National Gallery of Victoria on St Kilda Road right through to the Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens.
It’s 12 non-stop hours of fun, exhibitions and activities from 7pm-7am and in 2018 it’s happening Saturday 17 February – Sunday 18 February. Almost everything at White Night Melbourne is free, but a few venues may be hosting ticketed events; these are clearly indicated on their individual program listings, along with booking details.
If you choose to go as a family then here are a few of my tips:
1. If you want to go in the evening plan to go by 7pm and leave by 9pm.
2. Avoid trying to move during White Night peak hour ie after dinner 8:30-11pm as everyone starts spilling out from CBD restaurants. Plant yourself in one location during this time, maybe explore the permanent exhibitions of places like State Library, NGV, Melbourne Museum.
3. There will almost certainly be queues for State Library unless you visit at off-peak times like 3am! Or make it your very first stop at 7pm ie start lining up before 7pm or go just before it closes at 7am. You can also join State Library Friends this year to skip the line.
4. Alternatively, plan to go super-early. If your kids are 5am risers, you’ll still have an hour or so of fun and then you can end with breakfast! Lots of cafes may not be open so your best dining options with children that early will be major hotels. Otherwise take a breakfast picnic.
5. The crowds are huge (600,000 people are estimated) and you can be shoulder to shoulder in some areas. If you can, leave the pram at home – it’s not much fun for kids if all they are see are adult’s knees! If you have a massive double pram, it will be a very uncomfortable journey for you and your kids. Make sure your kids are either strapped to you, in a very small pram or able to walk safely close to you and follow instructions not to wander off.
6. Take public transport to the edge of the precincts or drive close by and park. That means, start from the edge and move inwards (if you can) rather than try to start from the centre at Flinders Street station and move out.
7. Pre-book your parking in places like Wilson Parking and Secure Parking ahead of time. Note that cheapest rates for overnight parking require you to exit by 6am.
8. Be aware that CBD parking will be completely full and traffic difficult to manage and there will be several roads closed in and around the CBD. Note that during White Night peak hour access to major transport hubs will be very difficult as everyone will be trying to get out. You literally won’t be able to get inside Flinders Street station (hence Tip #1 above).
9. In fact, if possible avoid Flinders Street station and the surrounding corners of Flinders St/Swanston St all together. Russell and Elizabeth Streets are expected to have lighter pedestrian foot traffic.
10. There are over 100 works to explore so you won’t get to see everything. Stick closely to a single area. You will enjoy your experience more and it’s the travel from point-to-point which is the most frustrating and slow. Have a look at the map here.
11. The most family-friendly precincts are up at Carlton Gardens/Melbourne Museum or south of the river at Alexandra and Queen Victoria Gardens as they are the most spacious. This year you’ll see stunning works such as UKI: Utility Kinetic Insect, last year’s beloved White Knight Messenger and the magnificent projections on the Royal Exhibition Building.
12. There are public toilets at the major institutions and portaloos at major intersections. Go to the loo when you have the opportunity!
Have fun and enjoy your night! View the full program here.