Oh, what a night.
Bendigo’s first White Night was indeed something special – a visual and respectful celebration of not only our city’s history, but all it now offers. It’s estimated about 60,000 people visited the CBD to see our city shine – a figure far surpassing the first regional event in Ballarat in 2017, which attracted 40,000.
It was fabulous to see so many central Victorians and visitors not only venture out early during the Bendigo event, but stay and enjoy the spectacular of colour and light for hours. There were hero installations – among them the Soldiers Memorial and the story of the history of Fortuna – but everywhere you turned, there was something beautiful to appreciate.
As Visit Victoria chief Peter Bingeman said, the event far exceeded expectations – which the event’s artistic director and executive producer David Atkins attributed to support from the state government, Visit Victoria, the City of Greater Bendigo, the public and the artists and performers. “Bendigo has a rich and diverse cultural community and White Night provided them with the opportunity to use this beautiful city as the canvas for their art and performances, with record-breaking crowds as the enthusiastic recipients,” he said.
With such crowds bringing the CBD to life, the City of Greater Bendigo now hopes it will be back.
There will be lessons learned, as there always is after first-time events. But it was a mighty good start to what may become an annual event on the city’s events calendar.
How that looks in the future is unknown, but if the weekend’s event is anything to go by, central Victoria will embrace it – so too, will those from outside our region. And when that happens, the flow on effects are many – for local artists, restaurants, accommodation providers, cafes, service clubs… the list is endless.
But one of the greatest flow on effects will again be for the people of Bendigo. The families, the friends, the community.
How fabulous it will be to again see so many come together to enjoy a free, inclusive event open to all.
- Nicole Ferrie, editor