In early March, Canberra will come alive in kaleidoscopic displays of colour and creativity during the much-anticipated 2024 Enlighten Festival.
The visual feast is known for transforming iconic landmarks into dazzling works of art, and this year it promises to be a jaw-dropping series of spectacles never seen before.
For the first 11 days of March, culture and creativity spectacularly collide as the Enlighten Festival lights up Australia’s capital. This annual autumn festival, now in its 14th year, features stunning architectural projections showcasing culture and storytelling during the Illuminations, a sky full of hot air balloons at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular, and a program bursting with events for music, film and art fans.
Enlighten Illuminations: 1-11 March
The Illuminations are one of the most awe-inspiring (and thoroughly Instagrammable!) elements of the festival, with large-scale architectural projections bringing Canberra’s most iconic buildings to life. See the Australian Parliament House, National Library of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Questacon, National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House in a dazzling new light, with projections that showcase culture and storytelling.
While you’re out and about in the Festival Hub, you can enjoy even more amazing, illuminated installations including 3-dimensional neon artistic reflections of the Canberra landscape, interactive projections, a VR swing experience and colourful fibre optics.
Enlighten After Dark: 1-11 March
When the sun sets, the fun continues. A range of national institutions and businesses will open their doors after dark for curious and adventurous visitors. Take part in exclusive events such as exploring the National Gallery after-hours, a Degustation Dinner at the Australian Parliament House and a lakeside moon walk.
Lights! Canberra! Action!: 8 March
Located in the open-air surrounds of the Senate Rose Garden, Lights! Canberra! Action! shines a spotlight on local filmmaking talent with this short film festival. Local filmmakers are given 10 days and a theme to create their film – you’ll be wowed by what they come up with! The event is free, but be sure to bring along a camping chair, picnic rug or cushion to enjoy the films in comfort under the stars.
Symphony in the Park: 10 March
Experience a musical fusion like never before at Commonwealth Park on Sunday 10 March as the legendary Aussie rockers the Hoodoo Gurus join the Canberra Symphony Orchestra for Symphony in the Park. This is an absolute highlight of the Enlighten Festival, and this year audiences can listen and dance to some of the Hoodoo Gurus’ greatest hits, supported by a 40-piece orchestra. There’s nothing else quite like it.
Canberra Day: 11 March
Celebrate Canberra Day with a wonderful day out, and support the local community by joining in the Canberra Day Appeal Fun Run, followed by a day of entertainment in Commonwealth Park from 10am-5pm.
Sample a range of delicious cuisines and browse locally made products and handicrafts at the Food and Makers market. There’s also plenty of live music and family activities throughout the day for everyone of all ages to enjoy. Profits from the Fun Run will go towards supporting local charities through Hands Across Canberra.
Canberra Balloon Spectacular: 9-17 March
As the Illuminations draw to a close, the focus switches from dusk to dawn, as everyone’s favourite aerial extravaganza takes flight. The Canberra Balloon Spectacular sees dozens of hot air balloons fill the sky with a surreal blaze of colour and movement.
The Canberra Balloon Spectacular will launch from Patrick White Lawns each day from 6am, depending on the weather. Get up early, grab some brekky and watch the launch from Patrick White Lawns or head to your favourite vantage point around the lake. The Lake Burley Griffin foreshore, the Australian National Arboretum, Commonwealth Park and Acton Peninsula are some great spots to view this unforgettable spectacle.
Visit enlightencanberra.com for more information, ticketing and full program.
If you enjoyed reading about the Enlighten Festival and want more to do in our country’s capital, check out our Canberra coverage here!
Travel to Canberra
Rex flies to Canberra. Book your tickets here and check out the route map below.