This is the third year of White Night in Melbourne, which means you should have learned one thing: do not go between 9pm and 11pm.

If you appreciate your personal space, the secret (okay, it’s not such a secret) is to siesta for a few hours and then head in some time after 2am.

“The festival is on all night and is the same at four in the morning as it is at nine at night,” says festival director Andrew Walsh, who’s overseen all the White Night events.

“If you’ve got kids, put them to bed and wake them up to wander around the city and get an early breakfast somewhere,” says Walsh.

This year the event organisers will ease the crowd crush by spreading out the attractions.

“This year we’ve changed the programming to encourage people to venture up north to the Russell Street projections, or across to Federation Square to ease the congestion in the Flinders Street Station area especially,” says Walsh.

It’s going to be a long night. We predict you’ll feel, more or less, like this:

Overstimulated on arrival, followed by a slight dip in your energy levels while queuing at the State Library. Then there’ll be a spike at snack time, then a deep, despairing plunge in those early hours.

Hang in there, sport – whether you’re ready to sweat it out to Otologic at five in the morning, or you just need to zone out to cat videos on a loop, we’ll sort you out.

High Energy

You’re heading straight to Trip the Light Fantastic on the lower terrace of Birrarung Marr – a massive open-air, 12-hour dancefloor. “Imagine the Spiegeltent or a club without a roof,” says Walsh.

This is where the world music is at – double sets each of the hugely energetic Afrobeat outfit Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence; salsa band Quarter Street; and eight-piece Funk Buddies.

Although it’s not super interactive, the Circus Circus event in the Melbourne Museum Plaza will be a hive of energy. “Even though you’re probably not getting heavily involved in the show, it’s certainly going to be an exciting event with some of Victoria’s best circus performers going through the night,” says Walsh.

White Night and BIG hART have collaborated to bring projectionists, percussionists, lighting and sound to Riverslide Skate Park in Alexandra Gardens. It’s called Skate White Night All Night and involves skateboarders across Melbourne taking part in the development of a new work, “Which will unfold live throughout the night,” says Walsh.

Medium Energy

Head to the Live on Lonsdale stage and catch some of the most exciting young acts in Australia right now. That includes Thelma Plum, Sampa the Great, The Harpoons and Harvey Sutherland.

Melbourne artist Minna Gilligan is hosting a drop-by drawing session between 8pm and 10pm, in which you’ll create colourful art inspired by NGV works.

Don’t miss the showcase of the late, iconic Australian photographer Rennie Ellis, Decade and Decadent. While you’re in the library, grab a spot in the La Trobe Reading Room, which is always a highlight. This year, the dome will be illuminated with Ideation, an elaborate projection and soundscape work.

At the northern end of the CBD in the City Baths, Craig Walsh’s piece, Incubator, is “Pretty much your worst nightmare,” says Walsh. His work is a projection on the bottom of the pool with animal legs and scales sliding and swimming around.

There’ll be powerful and thunderous explosions of froth and foam at 181 Swanston Street. White Wash by ocean-loving filmmaker, Chase Burns, is a projection that transforms the CGI building into breaking waves.

“Under the Princes Bridge there’s a rather small piece to discover, but it’s really clever and unusual,” says Walsh. It’s called Electroplasm and it’s a curious mix of technologies and lost souls that plays on surrealism and the electrification of cities. There’ll be séances and a spooky atmosphere here. “I think it will be quite evocative,” says Walsh.

Low Energy

Okay, you’ve earned cats now.

Recoup your energy by watching Cat Video Festival: Internet Cats on loop at ACMI – for 12 hours straight if you really want to.

“It’s a come-together film of all of those crazy cat videos you find on the internet of people filming their cat riding a skateboard, for example,” says Walsh. “One cat video is sort of vaguely cute, two videos is a bit naff, three is absurd, but by the time you watch 20 of them it’s damn out of its mind and so too is the audience.” When you’re catted out, walk over to the Queen Victoria Gardens and take in the beautiful light sculptures, particularly French artist Tae Gon Kim’s ethereal work, The Dresses, which glows and shimmers through its hundreds of fibre-optic strands.

Nearby you’ll find interactive light sculpture Seven Spires, which responds to your touch.

Young award-winning Indigenous artist, Josh Muir, will present his installation, Still Here, on the NGV facade. It tells the story of pre-settlement and the arrival of European settlers in the spirit of reconciliation.

For some late-night classical music and opera, slip into St Paul’s Cathedral for Silver Rain: Illuminated Opera. “I think listening to this music late into the night will be gorgeous,” says Walsh.

You could also go down to the Yarra River and watch Aqua Vitae by Melbourne Water – a tranquil water projection on the river.

A personal favourite of Walsh’s is the Hot Air installation at the Birrarung Marr Upper Terrace for its iconic Melbourne charm.

“Melbourne is one of the few cities in the world that has hot-air balloons flying over it all the time, but most of us aren’t awake to see them,” says Walsh. Here, you’ll find a bunch of hot-air balloons tethered to the ground where you can walk up to them and “get a real sense of how big and dramatic they actually are.”

White Night Festival 2016
Sat 7pm–7am