The start of autumn is a magical time in Canberra. By day the trees turn vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow and the crisp air is a refreshing change to the sweltering high heats of summer, while by night our city becomes a nocturnal playground as the Enlighten festival kicks off. Our most iconic buildings – Australian Parliament House, Old Parliament House, National Library of Australia, Questacon, National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Australia, and National Archives of Australia – play backdrop to their own unique light projections, and pockets all around Canberra get in on the fun. With so many great light shows happening all at once, these are just a few of the unmissable instalments Enlighten has to offer this year.

The Colourful Chameleon

Chameleon’s are known for their impressive ability to change colours on a whim, and the new colour-changing chameleon at North Quarter is no exception. This interactive light installation is hard to miss, and even more impossible to resist having a go for yourself – the chameleon’s colours change depending on where you touch it. Located by Jamie’s Italian it’s the perfect pit stop to begin a long night of Enlighten exploring!

Competition time: Upload you picture of the chameleon to Instagram for the chance to win a double pass to ZooVenture tour and Meet a Cheetah experience at the National Zoo & Aquarium.

To enter simply:

1. Follow @canberracentre on Instagram
2. Tag @canberracentre
3. #enlightencanberracentre

2 – 12 March | North Quarter, Canberra Centre


Sunset on the Roof

Who can resist a rooftop bar?! And the latest one to pop up in town is only here for a limited time – in fact for two nights only – giving you even more reason to put it on your nightlife to-do list. Not just a picturesque spot to watch the sunset in the evening, Enlighten’s exclusive rooftop bar will be serving up a selection of dishes featuring local and regional produce by newcomer APH Catering and Events. This ticketed event is one not to be missed.

3 & 11 March | 6pm – 8pm | Australian Parliament House | Cost: $80 adult


Twilight On The Savannah

Ever wondered what animals get up to when all the visitors go home? Well this is your chance to visit the National Zoo & Aquarium after hours and experience the new as-yet-unopened Savannah area. Watch the African wildlife, chat to the Keepers and meet a few friendly reptiles or have a picnic and listen to African drumming. This opportunity is for two nights only so get in fast to secure a coveted ticket!

4 & 11 March | 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm | National Zoo & Aquarium | Cost: Adult $30, Concession $25, Child $15 or Family $80 (2 adults & 2 children)


Luminous Botanicus III

Spend the night exploring the Australian National Botanic Gardens after dark as you journey along a 1.4km loop. Along the way you can witness the latest lighting technology on show in the garden plus live music and performances including a choir in the rainforest and special performances by Veronica’s Boyfriend and Mr Michael on March 2 & 3, and No Hausfrau and Leonard Weiss with Fiona Dawes the weekend of March 9 & 10. After all that walking you’re sure to be hungry so stop under the eucalyptus trees for a complementary beverage or desert, or treat yourself to a selection of wood fired pizzas, kransky rolls and a tipple or two at the nearest bar.

2, 3, 9 & 10 March | 7.30pm – 10pm | Australian National Botanic Gardens | Cost: Adult $26, Concession $21


Lights! Canberra! Action! Short Film Festival

This year’s Lights! Canberra! Action! short film festival is the perfect excuse to sit under the stars and watch Canberra’s rising filmmakers showcase their talent. You bring the picnic, the wine and a comfy beanbag and the top 12 finalists will provide the entertainment. Stick around after the screening when the winning flick is announced.

10 March | 7pm, films from 8pm | Senate Rose Gardens | Entry is free

Images from Enlighten