Firelight winter celebration to ignite Docklands

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David Schout

Firelight Festival will light up Docklands on the first weekend of July and, after a two-year hiatus, is set to be bigger than ever.

The three-night winter celebration will take place from Friday July 1 to Sunday July 3 and feature light shows, fire pits, live music and a range of different pop-up food options.

Taking place across three Docklands precincts — Harbour Esplanade, NewQuay Promenade and Victoria Promenade — Firelight will for the first time deliver a carbon-neutral event.

The waterfront will be transformed with fire drums and flames, pop-up stages, large fire sculptures, and roving performers, and will take place on all three evenings.

And in a festival first, a new “liquid, light and laser” show (featuring lasers, LED lighting and water jets) will be performed at Victoria Harbour, each lasting seven minutes.

No booking is required for the free event, which includes all entertainment and attractions (food and beverages excluded).

Entertainment will run from 5pm until 11pm on Friday and Saturday, and 5pm until 10.30pm on Sunday.

Festivalgoers can also take advantage of the Docklands Dollars program, which offers up to $210 cashback on spending on hotels, restaurants and entertainment in the precinct. 

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the event would be better than ever after a COVID-enforced hiatus in 2020 and 2021.

“After two long years, Firelight Festival is back in Docklands with awe-inspiring installations, mesmerising light shows, foodie feasts, fire twirlers, flaming trumpeters, live music and family-friendly entertainment to celebrate our city in all its wintry glory,” she said.

“Gather your family and friends, pop on your winter woolies and head on down to Docklands to enjoy everything that Melbourne has to offer during the cosy winter months.” 

In a feast for the senses, pop-up food options offered at the festival will include smoked meats, soup, woodfired pizza and hot chocolate.

Musical performances from a range of genres, including audience favourites Mariarchi Los Romanticos, local jazz group The Sugarfoot Ramblers, West African drummer Kofi Kunkpe, and The Brunswick Women’s Choir, are also set to feature.

Firelight Festival was last hosted in 2019 and attracted more than 75,000 people over the three-day period.

City of Melbourne councillors endorsed the 2022 event, which was set to cost $1 million, at a May 17 Future Melbourne Committee meeting held at The Hub at Docklands on Harbour Esplanade.

The 2019 event reportedly pumped $4 million into the local economy, and the council’s City Activation portfolio chair Cr Roshena Campbell said a similar injection was required.

“Boy, do we know they need that now,” Cr Campbell said.

“We’re delighted that we’re proceeding with the Docklands Firelight Festival again, because we know that businesses across Docklands tell us one thing loud and clear, and that’s that they want visitors back.”

2022 Firelight highlights include:
  • A seven-minute liquid, light and laser show with water jets, featuring a larger-than-life phoenix, playing every hour at Victoria Harbour.
  • A new lighting installation that will “transform Buluk Park into a magical forest”.
  • A 10-metre crystal lion.
  • More than 100 performers, including fire breathers and twirlers, flaming trumpeters, roving entertainers, musicians and other artists. 
  • Forty fire pits and drums, 35 flame jets, two fire sculptures and two fire arches. 

For more information: firelight.melbourne.vic.gov.au

Photography by Murray Enders

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