Firelight Festival’s creative director Gill Minervini knows what it takes to get Melburnians out and about in the middle of winter: fire, and lots of it.

Spread over three nights, the free-entry extravaganza at Docklands features plenty of food and live music. But when you’re celebrating the winter solstice outdoors in Melbourne, a plethora of warming fires definitely doesn’t hurt.

“The festival really embraces and celebrates the Melbourne winter,” says Minervini. “There’s a giant three-metre fire pit this year near the Welcome to Country area, and about 50 fire cauldrons and fire jets throughout Docklands. We really worked hard to make people comfortable and warm, and then combine that with forms of entertainment both intimate and grand.”

So you’re down by the docks, warming yourself near some lively flames. What’s next? Broadsheet asked Minervini to give us her top five picks (in no particular order) of things to see and do at this year’s harbourside celebration.

The Firelight Icons
“We’ve got two new giant fire sculptures happening, they’re our Icons of Winter,” Minervini says. “One is of a deer [representing earth] and one of a phoenix [representing sky]. One will be on Victoria Promenade and the other on New Quay Promenade. They’ll look awesome and they’ll be burning all night long.” And that’s in addition to all the usual manifestations of fire across the festival, making it brighter than ever this year.

Amazing winter food and drinks
“There’s going to be lots of barbeques, grills [and] cooking with fire, [plus] those fantastic soups that come in a bread-roll bowl,” says Minervini. “There’s drinks too, including two bars with plenty of options, from martinis to mulled wine.” There’ll be more than 25 pop-ups and food trucks operating on all three nights, including The Soup Factory, Frencheese and 48h Pizza e Gnocchi Bar.

Oracle Liquid
Fresh from Vivid Sydney, Oracle Liquid will put on a stunning show using both lasers and water. “[They’ve] got a brand new show set to music on the harbour that’ll be taking people on a journey through the four seasons,” Minervini says. “It’ll be happening every hour from when it gets dark. It’ll definitely be cool.”

Diverse range of live music
“Everyone loves the pyro shows, obviously,” says Minervini. “But there’s also going to be over 40 musical performances over the three nights. There’s three stages for the live acts, and a lot of roving entertainers as well.” Musical performers include last year’s audience favourite Mariachi Los Romanticos; traditional jazz group The Sugarfoot Ramblers; world music band Royal High Jinx; Lolo Lovina, fronted by Australian-born Romani-Gypsy singer Sarah Bedak; experimental Indian and international music from The Fifths; one-man-band extraordinaire Uptown Brown; and American-style percussion ensemble D2 Drumline.

The Small Room
If you’re after a more intimate experience, the new Firelight Small Room will feature storytellers, magicians, fortune-tellers and musicians on Victoria Promenade. “The aim is to create an outdoor lounge room,” says Minervini, “where it’ll be a respite from the hustle and bustle of the bigger events. Inside there’ll be musicians, tarot readers [and] lounge furniture.” And of course, lots of fire.

The Firelight Festival is on at Docklands from Friday June 28 to Sunday June 30, from 5pm to 10pm each night. More information here.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with City of Melbourne.