Despite not really knowing what it was in for, Melbourne turned out in the thousands for last year’s inaugural White Night. The all-night event was unprecedented, and turned out to be a genuine highlight of the summer. This year, White Night’s Creative Director Andrew Walsh and his team are upping the ante, with an expanded entertainment precinct and more than 100 free events to keep punters busy from dusk ‘till dawn.

In light of the NSW government’s licensed venue lock-out in Sydney’s CBD from 1.30am, the City of Melbourne’s large-scale party from 7pm to 7am speaks volumes for the trust the council has in its residents.

“Last year’s wonderful turnout is testament to the city’s spirit,” Walsh says. “We know that people can come out with joy in their hearts and respect for fellow punters.”

With events scattered from NGV International to Victoria St, participants have a lot to choose from. You could take in a filmic journey, following different parts of Tim Winton’s The Turning, or follow the trail of lights and projections snaking down Swanston Street. We’ve picked a few highlights from the program to get you started on your White Night game plan.

Bells, Bells, Bells
St Paul’s Cathedral

This is where it begins and ends. At 7pm, and 12 hours later at 7am, the bells at St Michael’s Uniting Church, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Federation Bells will chime in unison to create a soundtrack signalling the start and finale of White Night.

Moonlight Synchro
Melbourne City Baths

In a specially commissioned event for White Night Melbourne 2014, the historic Melbourne City Baths will host an all-night synchronised swimming revue, as members of Victorian Synchronised Swimming Inc. will turn the Baths into something from a Busby Berkley musical.

Tim Winton’s The Turning
Various locations

Tim Winton’s The Turning, a collection of 18 short films with a total running time of three hours, is quite an undertaking. But spread out in chunks, across multiple locations, viewers can make a night of it. Each chapter will be staged in a different environment and locations are decided by the core themes, ideas and experiences in each story.

Northern Lights Music Stage
La Trobe Street, near Swanston Street

A full-blown music festival right in the middle of the CBD, the Northern Lights Music Stage will showcase some of the best of Melbourne’s current crop. In a program put together by Ali Bird (who brought us Melbourne Music Week and Morning Ritual), bands including Beaches, Teeth & Tongue, Baptism of Uzi, Lost Animal and recent Laneway guest Client Liaison will be putting on a dance party on one of the city’s busiest streets.

Tattooed City
NGV International

Conceived and curated by White Night Creative Director Andrew Walsh, Tattooed City is a projection work that compares Melbourne’s street art to the tattoos on the bodies of countless city residents. Photographs by Nicole Reed will be projected by The Electric Canvas on the external walls of NGV International, reproducing personal artworks on the city’s own skin.

The Book of Night
The Wheeler Centre, Lt Lonsdale Street

Debunking the stereotype of writer as recluse, 12 Melbourne storytellers will work all night, in shifts, to start and finish a collective work of fiction. If you’ve got an interest in the writer’s process then watching folks like Oslo Davis working on stage with their writing projected behind them should be fascinating. Audience members are encouraged to help shape the story by feeding comments and plot suggestions to the writers, and the whole thing will be streamed live as part of the Digital Writer’s Festival.

Purple Rain
RMIT Alumni Courtyard

French art critic Guillaume Désanges said that “purple is the colour of small hours”. Turn that idea over in your mind as you wander into Purple Rain, a sensory, visual and sound installation that proved to be one of the most popular features of Paris’s Nuit Blanche. Take an umbrella and wander through the Prince-inspired scene, with mauve rain falling all around.

There’s so much more to see and do in the White Night program that it’s a little ridiculous, so make sure you study it yourself. Meanwhile, Andrew Walsh, who last year spent the night in the streets until 7am, says he’ll be doing the same this year. “I’ll definitely be pulling an all-nighter. I’ll just see where the night takes me.”

White Night Melbourne takes place at various locations around Melbourne’s CBD on February 22 from 7pm to 7am.