In each edition of Council Magazine we choose one local government from across Australia to shine a spotlight on. This edition, we focus on the City of Perth and its vibrant nightlife that is bringing together culture, history, entertainment and community under the banner of ‘the City of Light’.

What connects the 1960s, an American astronaut and Western Australia’s capital city?

Way back in 1962, American astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in the Friendship 7. 

Glenn dubbed Perth the ‘City of Light’ after residents turned all their lights on to greet him as his orbit crossed the coastline. After the darkness of the Indian Ocean, the light of Perth made quite the impression on the astronaut – and the rest of the world – and the name has stuck ever since.

Over the years, the City of Light has come to mean many things:

  • In Nyoongar culture, light is associated with re-birthing and rekindling 
  • Perth is the sunniest capital in Australia, banking an average of 300 days of sunshine a year
  • Perth is Australia’s most globally connected city, sharing daylight with 60 per cent of the world’s population
  • The City’s stunning natural surroundings, from beaches, to Kaarta Gar-up (Kings Park) and the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River), are strongly connected to the many months of sunshine

These days, the City of Light is also synonymous with entertainment and a vibrant night-time economy featuring world-class bars, restaurants and shopping malls. 

Across the year, Perth nights come alive with spectacular drone and light shows, fireworks, Christmas lights and family fun fairs.

This was emphatically highlighted by recent spend and foot traffic data which saw Perth record its biggest festive and summer season ever. Compared with the previous year, the City saw a mammoth 25 per cent increase in visitors and a 19.1 per cent increase in spend to the tune of $400 million.

Embracing the City of Light brand is at the heart of this success, with the City of Perth supporting a year-round events calendar and targeted marketing campaigns that amplify the City of Light as the place to be for residents and visitors.

The summer heat may be fading, but the City’s events calendar is still warming up, taking on new energy across autumn and winter.

There’s something for everyone in the City of Light. Here’s some highlights of what’s to come in 2024.

April: Lotterywest Boorloo Heritage Festival

From 1 to 30 April, the Lotterywest Boorloo Heritage Festival is back to shine a light on the built, natural and cultural heritage of Perth (Boorloo).

This month-long program delves into the City’s remarkable history. With its lively mix of walks, talks, displays, open houses and performances, the festival showcases all the extraordinary people and places that are part of Nyoongar, colonial and multicultural histories. 

City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas said this year the City is helping to celebrate some significant historic anniversaries, including 125 years of the Perth Mint and 120 years of His Majesty’s Theatre. 

“This is the second year the Boorloo Heritage Festival has followed a month-long format. It’s a fantastic opportunity to discover more of our City’s remarkable history,” Lord Mayor Zempilas said.

“There is something for everyone to see and do – from guided walks to open houses, performances and immersive experiences.”

Boasting more than 100 events – most of them free – the Lotterywest Boorloo Heritage Festival is the ideal occasion to come together and look deeper into Perth’s history and culture. 

For more information, head to the Visit Perth website.

May: Tree Month

May is Tree Month in the City of Light, with a series of events that highlight the importance of preserving and increasing the precious tree canopy across the City.

Under its Urban Greening Strategy and Urban Forest Plan, the City of Perth is focused on bringing community groups together to help protect and promote trees and create a greener future.

Lord Mayor Zempilas said the City was committed to increasing Perth’s tree canopy by 30 per cent by 2050.
“During May we’ll be running a series of community planting days and activities to showcase how we can collectively make our City greener and preserve our tree canopy,” Lord Mayor Zempilas said. 

Everyone can get involved with greening the City. More information and details on how to register for events and workshops throughout Tree Month can be found at Visit Perth. 

June and July: Lightscape, Kings Park

Uncover the secrets beneath the surface when Lightscape, powered by the City of Light, returns to Kings Park in Perth.

For 40 nights from 7 June, Kings Park will transform into a stunning winter wonderland, thanks to the internationally renowned Lightscape, delivering a world-class spectacle of art, light and sound.

Lord Mayor Zempilas said Lightscape had become a headline attraction on the City’s winter events calendar. 
“More than 180,000 people experienced the magic of this incredible event in its inaugural year, and 2024 will offer a totally different but equally fantastic experience, with new installations to be enjoyed across more nights,” Lord Mayor Zempilas said.
“The seven-week festival will celebrate Western Australia’s exceptional local flora, with an added theme around the mysteries of roots which will focus on the secrets beneath the surface. 
“With input from local and international artists, the people of Perth and our visitors will experience an immersive, entertaining experience with a uniquely local twist.” 
Lightscape is brought to life through a partnership between the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority and Sony, with the event powered by the City of Perth and supported by Roy Hill.

August: Plateful Perth 

This August, Plateful Perth is set to turn the City of Light into a gastronomic paradise, injecting bursts of flavour and vibrancy into every corner of the city. 

Get ready to indulge in the city’s culinary treasures as Perth’s restaurants and bars showcase their talents, offering delicious dishes and exciting dining experiences. 

“Prepare your tastebuds for Plateful Perth – a month-long celebration of dining in the City of Light, created for you by the City of Perth,” Lord Mayor Zempilas said.

“Plateful Perth isn’t just about tantalising your tastebuds. It’s a series of limited time offers that lead you to discover hidden gems, revisit old favourites, and create lasting memories through the joy of dining. Dining truly comes alive in winter in Perth.”

For more information, head to the Plateful Perth website. 

All year: Street art

You might be surprised to know the City of Perth is home to one of the largest pieces of vertical art in the world.

Located on the Adnate Hotel, on Hay St, the 25-storey mural is also one of the world’s tallest murals, only just trailing behind the world-record mural in Toronto, Canada.  

Painted by artist Matthew Adnate, the artwork tells stories of Perth’s history and diversity, featuring portraits of a Nyoongar man, and an Indian and Mediterranean woman.

You’ll also find captivating artwork scattered around the City’s many streets and laneways, such as the hidden mural that can be found in the Murray Street Mall, which features an expressive rainbow serpent known as the Waargyl. 

Designed by a team of cultural artists led by Lance Chadd and Trish Robinson, the Waargyl mural splashes vibrant colour across the wall, telling stories of land-based Aboriginal spirituality and ‘Boorongur lore’, connection and care for Country.

The City’s Light it Up program also adds colour and delight to the streets through a series of unique pieces of local art. The project quite literally shines a light on the quirky laneways and charming heritage buildings which are so unique to the City. 

The vibrant installations also improve safety and lighting in otherwise dark laneways – and create safe places for the community to gather and marvel at the beautiful City of Light.

There’s a real art to exploring the creative side of Perth. And you can learn it by connecting with the City of Perth’s iCity Visitor Service. They offer free guided artwork and sculpture tours, perfect for families and those with little ones.

The City of Perth is just one giant art gallery to discover and there’s no time like now to explore.

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