“White Night’s a bit like unlocking the door to the artists’ studios and letting them run free,” says creative director, Andrew Walsh. “We’re an unusual city, certainly unique in Australia, and we have a great sense of who we are.”

Back for a third round this Saturday night, the White Night 2015 program has certainly brought the goods, delivering on its show-stopping staples alongside some more ambitious commissions this time around. That means you’ll be given some thumping live music across four key sites, even bigger displays of projection art (in more places), and a slew of installations and artworks from home and abroad. (We even made some helpful maps and a list of restaurants open late to make it easy).

Walsh was kind enough to sift through the hefty program with us. Here are some highlights worth trudging through the crowds for – hopefully avoiding confused club kids in the process.

THE BIG SPECTACLES

4 Elements, OCUBO – Royal Exhibition Building

This work is set to turn the Royal Exhibition Building’s Victoria Street façade into one massive canvas via projection. Using two dancers from the National Dance Company of Portugal, one aerial circus artist and one synchronised swimmer, they’ll each interact with the projection with a green screen.

“It’s almost epic cinema,” says Walsh. “Here’s a work which uses projection mapping with a human element. It takes the building and projection mapping to a whole other level.”

Sugar High, Hotham Street Ladies x Projectionteknik – CGI Building, 181 Swanston Street

Hotham Street Ladies, a group of street and installation artists and cake bakers are back, this time dousing the side of the CGI Building in their trademark sweets. Although it won’t be edible, don’t miss your chance to see the otherwise drab CBD building bathed in sumptuous visuals.

Wonderland, Various – Flinders Street

Good luck with avoiding this one. A staple of White Night since its inception, the block across from Federation Square will be illuminated again on a scale that mesmerises kids and big kids alike. The site has even seen a wedding or two.

KEYFRAMES, Groupe LAPS, Thomas Veyssiere – NGV International

KEYFRAMES will mimic chronophotography – an old Victorian photographic technique which captured movement across several frames – via numerous plastic illuminated bodies. Expect a series of illuminated stick figures strewn across NGV International’s St Kilda Road façade. Thanks to some crafty programmed lighting and sound sequences, these figures will visually break up movement into easily digestible parts – hence the chronophotography link. Take a look at past works here.

Sita’s Garden, Various – Birrarung Marr

This’ll be the big one. As a project first slated to turn the Yarra into a giant lotus flower, it too bloomed into something far bigger. It’s now featuring a glowing lotus pond, a floating stage and the banks will be lined with Indian street scenes. If you’ve ever wanted to transport yourself to the set of Wes Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited, this’ll come pretty close. If you’re game, stay out till 6am when the garden will be transformed into a meditative performance – you’ll be able to practice yoga, too.

STRANGE AND WONDERFUL INSTALLATIONS

en masse (fade), Genevieve Lacey – Cross Culture Church, Corner Little Lonsdale and Swanston Streets

Genevieve Lacey is an example of why we should’ve stuck with the recorder in primary school. She’s a virtuoso now, and the focus of en masse (fade). She’ll be the sole musician in the church, made eerie via lighting and sound designed to mimic a flickering room. “Again, we’ve got a world-leading Melbourne artist. She’s working with lighting, sound and projection artists, creating a completely immersive work throughout the night,” Walsh says.

Colonise, Alinta Krauth – Scots’ Church, 156 Collins Street

This 360-degree projection work considers the plight of Australian Flying Fox colonies. Thanks to climate change, they’re moving into the city’s urban landscape. Krauth prompts us to think about how we can cohabitate peacefully. Step inside and find the colony projected onto a handmade hanging sculpture.

Pursuit of Wholeness, Freya Pitt – Collins Street Baptist Church, 174 Collins Street

This is Freya Pitt’s third appearance at White Night. Pursuit of Wholeness tells a contemporary story of human desire, complete with a live Twitter feed, readings and even a cheeky disco. This’ll be de rigueur for new-media art fans. “She’s developing into a very interesting artist who will develop into someone with a strong international reputation,” says Walsh.

Chorus, Ray Lee – Queen Victoria Gardens

If you missed out on Conrad Shawcross’ The ADA Project at MONA FOMA 2014, avoid FOMO this time around. Chorus is a set of kinetic sound sculptures that send out hypnotic siren-calls via loudspeakers emitting precisely tuned musical pitches. These sculptures are giant metal tripods with glowing red, rotating arms – so expect déjà vu if you’ve ever seen War of the Worlds.

LIVE MUSIC

Indie Music Stage – Engineers’ Lawn, Alexandra Gardens

This stage will bring together a hotbed of local talent. Chela, Total Giovanni, Remi and Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders are some of the acts billed to play Alexandra Gardens’ Engineers Lawn. If you missed out on Sugar Mountain, here’s a free chance to catch a number of astute local acts who you should get to know.

Eat Me – State Library Reading Room

Melbourne musician and filmmaker Sui Zhen is performing live alongside French graphic design duo Antoine + Manuel. Taking cues from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the dome will be bathed in a 360-degree projection work paired with Zhen’s dulcet vocals. She’ll be performing in the dome at 7.15pm and at 8pm respectively. Wear a midriff.

Buskers Pitch – Across Keyframes & Big Chill

If you’ve ever wandered through the CBD late at night and thought, ‘Gee, that person in the rabbit suit sure does a mean Mario theme-song cover’, then you’ll want to check out Busker’s Pitch. White Night has curated Melbourne’s best buskers for one evening, spilling across Bourke Street and Southbank.

Music for a World Stage – Melbourne Museum Forecourt, 84 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy

The World Music Stage will host a number of sets, with musical styles ranging from Ethiopian Jazz to South Sudanese hip-hop. If there’s one thing you do, be sure to catch Stella Angelico from 8.55pm. She has the audacity to produce this image, and harks back to a time when you would’ve used the phrase “beg for mercy” without irony.

Jazz @ the Forum – The Forum, 154 Flinders Street, Melbourne

The Forum is open all night, so spare a thought for those performing at the break of dawn. With that in mind, take it easy inside the theatre with some stellar syncopated sounds. If you want to break out to some funk, swing by for Emma D & The Putbacks from 1.20am – it was the house band for Prince’s after party at the HiFi in 2012.

FOR THE FILM BUFFS

History Zero, Stefanos Tsivopoulos – Queen Victoria Gardens

This three-part film took Greece to the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. It openly confronts the state’s current myriad of crises. “History Zero is an ideal work to provoke thoughts around the relationship between the haves and the have-nots, or how people navigate their way through life with or without access to work. Greece is simply going through the worst economic and social turmoil, and I don’t think that Australia’s had anything like that. We keep being told that the divide between the rich and the poor is growing, and we felt it’s a good time to have that discussion,” says Walsh. “It’s an extremely beautiful, provocative work.”

Indie Screen/Chill Out Area, Various – Bourke Street Mall

Diverse indie shorts on Bourke Street will provide respite from the crowds. Take a break and view some decent indie shorts from local directors – featuring students, The Australian Ballet and inner space travel.

Building Blocks, The Foundling Archive – City Library, Flinders Lane

How would you react if you were asked to do something with building blocks in just 20 seconds? At the Sydney Road Street Party in 2013, people were challenged to do just that, and this film shows people responding – in all sorts of ways – in the same situation.

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Magazine in a Night, Emerging Writers' Festival - The Wheeler Centre

With The Lifted Brow hot on the heels from a partnership with McSweeneys, you’ll want to head into The Wheeler Centre’s performance space to see what it's learnt. Why? It's churning out a magazine in a night in conjunction with the Emerging Writers’ Festival. Submissions will be open for the first half of the night, with the editors discussing them live on stage. Throughout the night there will be interviews and workshops. So if you keep putting off that next submission, how about you turn it over at White Night?

Exodus, Yandell Walton and I & The Others (Kirrily Anderson) – Rainbow Alley

“I think Yandell’s a very important public artist and her work’s always interesting and compelling,” says Walsh. Walton and Anderson are a tag team who’ve worked together over past years specialising in site-specific installations that create non-traditional public spaces – like this abandoned house in Collingwood. Exodus will combine paste-ups and Walton’s projection art.

Sofles – Graffiti Mapped, Juddy Roller Studios – Secret Spot, TBA

Graffiti is a medium that’s ephemeral by nature. Australian artist Sofles will combine 3D video mapping, traditional street art and graffiti in the one sitting for one night only.

“He’s one of those artists who is better known outside of Australia than inside Australia – his YouTube has had a lot of hits,” Walsh says. “The digital mapping brings another dimension to it, so I’m pretty excited to have an Australian artist of some standing on show.”

It’ll be set to the soundtrack of NZ’s Opuio, too.

I have seen the future and it looks just like it used to, Wyatt Knowles - Union Lane

Knowles is a funny one. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of looking at his light box on RMIT’s Rodda Lane, then you know what we’re taking about. For some respite from the night’s whimsy, indulge in Knowles’ deadpan humour expressed through collage and light boxes.

Infinite Curve, Kit Webster and Dave Leigh – NGV Grollo Equiset Garden

White Night features plenty of projection art. This one’s different because Webster and Leigh will be using laser lumia – one of the world’s most high-resolution visual effects. Come here for a calm retreat, and prepare to stare into infinity.

White Night Melbourne 2015 will run from 7pm to 7am, stretching from Carlton Gardens in the north to Queen Victoria Gardens in the south. Public transport will be running all night from 8pm onward.

See our handy White Night 2015 event maps here. To get an idea of what you're in for, check out our photo gallery from last year here.

whitenightmelbourne.com.au