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11 things not to miss at Enlighten 2015

Jessica Schumann

Now in its fifth year, Enlighten 2015 is breathing light, colour and movement into Canberra once more. With a world-class program of events including two Australian premieres, Enlighten will transform the Parliamentary Triangle into a dazzling arts precinct over nine fabulous days, and welcome the exciting addition of the new Enlighten Night Noodle Markets.

Enlighten is illuminating the city with vibrant colour, movement and celebration to six of Canberra’s most treasured buildings with an ever-changing canvas of eye-catching images. For many of us at HerCanberra HQ, it’s an event not to miss – here are 10 reasons why…in no particular order.

1. Dinner in the Dark

Be part of the Enlighten experience at the National Portrait Gallery’s Dinner in the Dark on Saturday 7 March. Special guest and professional contestant and accomplished chef Nick Whitehouse from Masterchef will serve a delicious three-course menu of enthralling sensory experiences inspired by the exhibition In the flesh. From ingredients to technique, Nick will talk guests through his experimental textures and intriguing flavours complemented by matched Clonakilla wines. But hurry because tickets are selling fast.

The essentials
When: 6.30pm, Saturday 7 March
Where: National Portrait Gallery
How much: Adult $190; Member $185
Tickets: Purchase tickets online.

2. Night Noodle Markets

Creating a bustling, vibrant atmosphere, the Night Noodle Markets will offer foodies around the capital an array of authentic Asian eats, themed bars and live music in the Upper Commonwealth Place every night throughout Enlighten. Adding to the feast of illumination, tuck into fun and authentic Asian dishes from dumplings to dosa, pad Thai to gyoza…there’s something for everyone’s tummy.

The essentials
When: Friday 27 February to Sunday 8 March; 5pm til late Monday-Friday and 4pm til late Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Upper Commonwealth Place
How much: Entry is free, but individual prices at vendors.

3. Luminous Botanicus

A rare opportunity to wander through the Gardens at night experiencing lantern lit pathways and thematic garden lighting, Luminous Botanicus is complemented by music and visual performances, and it’s all at your own leisure. Wander through this self-guided walk commencing in the lush Rainforest Gully and passing through the conifers, Rock Garden, Australian Daisy Garden and Eucalypt Lawn. The evening concludes with refreshments and dramatic fire and drum performances in the Red Centre Garden.

The essentials
When: 8pm and 8.30pm—Friday 27 and Saturday 28 February, Sunday 1 March, Friday 6, Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 March
Where: Australian National Botanic Gardens
How much: $25 online or $27 on the night
Tickets: Purchase your tickets online.

4. The Great Kaleidoscope Cubby

Round up the family and make your mark in technicolour on the Greatest Cubby Ever Built in the heart of Old Parliament House. Collaborate in colour with cellophane-wrapped artists in this creative, hands-on, drop-in art project. Leave your message and be part of a colourful conversation. Have more cubby-making adventures in Play Up, a children’s exhibition space celebrating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The essentials
When: 6pm-10pm, Friday 27 and Saturday 28 February; Friday 6 and Saturday 7 March
Where: Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
How much: Free.

5. Power of 1 Remixed

Power of 1 is an immersive exhibition curated by the voices of the Australian people. Explore the ways in which different generations engage with democracy. Get involved and have your say about the issues that matter through interactive experiences, using everything from chalk to a Commodore64. Watch live as media artist, Michela Ledwidge, remixes the words, voices and videos created by you and turns data into a unique multimedia artwork.

The essentials
When: Exhibition opens 5pm-11pm with performances on the hour form 7pm; Friday 6 and Saturday 7 March
Where: Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
How much: Free.

6. Voyage [UK] Aether and Hermera

As the sun sets on Lake Burley Griffin, 300 illuminated paper boats transform into an incandescent fleet. Reminiscent of folded paper origami boats, audiences can engage with this innovate exhibition via a mobile phone app. Aether and Hermera (named after the Greek god and goddess of light) have been creating interactive, contemporary installations since 2006. Voyage is an interdisciplinary work that encourages playfulness and wander through a sophisticated use of lighting technologies and digital media.

The essentials
When: 6.30pm until late, Friday 27 February to Saturday 7 March
Where: Commonwealth Place, Lake Burley Griffin
How much: Free.

7. Party like its 1965

Turn on and tune in! Join the in-crowd for the Royal Australian Mint’s 50th birthday Swingin’ Sixties gig. Dress in your retro best and dance to the British Invasion beats of Melbourne’s celebrated 60s band The Substitutes, as we groove back to 1965 when the Royal Australian Mint opened in Canberra. For just $45 (adult), your ticket includes a themed cocktail or mocktail on arrival, canapés and a night of music and memories. Be there or be square!

The essentials
When: 8pm-11pm, Saturday 28 February
Where: Royal Australian Mint
How much: $45 Adult; $35 Concession; and $30 Child
Tickets: Purchase your tickets online.

8. The Physics of Beer

Explore the science behind the six-pack in an adults-only exploration of the amber ale at Questacon. Why is beer amber but head white? How many pints of carbon dioxide are there in a pint of beer? What is supercooled beer and does it taste? Find out the answers to these very questions and more when Questacon’s Q Lab explores the physics of beer with an interactive presentation full of fun, science and of course…beer!

The essentials

When: 7pm-9pm Friday 27 February and Friday 6 March
Where: Q Lab, Questacon
How much: $31 Adult; $26 Concession
Tickets: Purchase your tickets online.

9. Unconformity — Meet the Geologist

The Unconformity and geology of Parliament House Tour with renowned geologist Wolf Mayer will lead you on a journey of Parliament House to examine the wide variety of stone used throughout the building. The tour finale will be a visit to the Unconformity, a rare rock formation which shows were two rock masses—10 millions year apart in age—meet, and with the man who knows the most about it.

The essentials
When: 6pm-8pm, Friday 27 and Saturday 28 February, and Friday 6 and Saturday 7 March
Where: Australian Parliament House
How much: $60 Adult; $50 Child; $50 Concession
Tickets: Purchase your tickets online

10. Out of Africa

Start your Enlighten evening with a wild experience at the Zoo! As the sun goes down, enjoy the sounds of wild Africa in a unique and immersive experience only meters away from the Zoo’s lions—the Kings of the Jungle.

The essentials
When: 6pm, Friday 27 February and Friday 6 March
Where: The National Zoo & Aquarium
How much: $30 Adults; $25 Concession; $20 Child
Tickets: Purchase tickets online

11. Dining at the House

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to come to the House for dinner. Members’ Guests Dining Room is the venue for this exclusive decadent dinner designed by executive chief Cris Purcell. Fine wine, exemplary service, music and breathtaking views from the Members’ Terrace will delight and impress both you and your dining friends.

The essentials
When: 7pm, Saturday 7 March
Where: Members Guests Dining Room, Australian Parliament House
How much: $150
Tickets: Purchase your tickets online.

To view the Enlighten 2015 program or book tickets to other events visit the Enlighten 2015 website.

Giveaway: win tickets to Enlighten!

Enlighten is an event not to be missed and to make sure you don’t, we’ve got THREE double passes and ONE family pass to giveaway:

  • one double pass to Unconformity: Meet the Geologist Tour
  • one double pass to Dining at the House
  • one double pass to Luminous Botanicus
  • one family pass to By the Water concert with Katie Noonan on Saturday 28 February

For your chance to win, simply answer the below question and email the answer along with your details and the pass you’d like to win to [email protected].

Question: Name one of the six institutional buildings that will have architectural projections.

Competition closes midnight Friday 20 February 2015. Winners will be notified via email.


Jessica Schumann

A 'rambling ranga' at heart, Jessica Schumann is a bubbly, creative social thinker who thrives on words, social media and an innate knack for sharing stories. When she finds the time to write, Jessica seeks out the beauty in change and the essence of human condition. Varied and diverse in nature, her writing delves into the enviable world of people, travel, food and culture. When you can't find her in a nook writing, just follow your nose and you’ll soon find Jessica indulging in her other passion – cooking – or curled up on the couch with a good book in hand. You can find her over at More about the Author