Every year in March, Canberra goes up in lights.
Or so I hear—it’s my first time.
However judging by others’ nonchalance at the nation’s iconic buildings illuminating some of the world’s popular artwork, it’s nothing new.
Enlighten Canberra is a festival dedicated to illuminating many parts of the city for an entire week. Sponsored by Singapore Airlines and ActewAGL, the leading electricity provider for the Australian Capital Territory, the festival features a range of events proven to treat the entire family.
A major part of the festival is the night noodle markets, where about 20-30 food stalls showcase steaming soul soothers and bone-chilling beers in a backdrop of live music that ranges from rock and roll to pop to local jazz.
But food, music, and picnic blankets are the highlights of most festivals.
Enlighten is different.
For you see, last Friday, on the first day of the festival, major buildings in the country all lit up at exactly 8 pm.
It all started at Questacon, the science museum for kids and oldies alike. The chief minister of ACT made a speech, as you do for these things, and hit the big red button that officially kicked off the festival. At that moment, other buildings across the city—like the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Australian Democracy (more familiar as the old parliament house), the National Gallery of Australia, the National Library of Australia, the Australian National Archives, and the current parliament House of Australia—all featured jaw dropping illustrations.
It wasn’t all. Throughout the evening, these buildings continued to shower their audience with picture-perfect moments that many a photographer has already drooled over. The hashtag has reached the point of over-usage, fuelled not only by professionals with long exposure digital SLRs, but also by self-educated, self-made, and self-centred teenage freaks and Instagram frequents.
The show goes on for nine days, coming to a grand finale on Monday the 9th of March, on Canberra Day.
That day is the beginning of the rest of this celebratory month, where every day from 6 am, hot air balloons grace the skies, showing off to the rest of the world the impeccable clarity of the Canberran sky.
I can’t wait.