We’re nearing the longest night of the year, but a lively light festival is set to disrupt the darkness with colour upon its return to Queenstown in June.

Luma Southern Light Project will be on at Queenstown Gardens and Queenstown Bay over the King’s Birthday weekend from Thursday June 1 until Monday June 5. Now in its seventh year, it was founded in 2016 to attract visitors to the resort town while also showcasing local creatives and artworks.

Last year’s festival was abruptly cancelled due to the effects of the pandemic, so its organisers have had two years to plan what they’re billing as a bigger and better festival than before – with an entirely new line-up of illuminated art installations, live music and performances.

“Luma 2023 will be a step up from previous years, taking place across five days for the first time,” says Luma chair Duncan Forsyth. “The beauty of Luma is that there is something for everyone, from families with young children to long-term arts and performance enthusiasts.”

The specifics of the line-up are kept purposely under wraps, as the organisers are keen for there to be a surprise around every corner of Queenstown Gardens’ 16 hectares – but several collaborators are back on board this year including respected light artist Angus Muir, Mike Hodgson from Kiwi electronic duo Pitch Black, VFX and experiential art studio Creature Post, and aerialist Emma Vickers ¬– who is the 2023 festival performance director and will also be performing.

Each night runs between 5pm and 10pm, and the program – involving around 40 installations by 40 artists – will evolve and shift throughout each evening with something new to see every night. Local food vendors are also involved.

Tickets are $25 per person (free for kids under 13) and are sold by individual night so you can pick and choose how many nights you’re keen to attend. Entry capacity per night is limited so the festival isn’t too crowded – although between 50,000 and 60,000 people are expected to pass through over the five days.

Luma Southern Light Project 2023, June 1–5, Queenstown Gardens.