Perth lights up with the City at Christmas Lights Trail which explores 18 dazzling Christmas exhibits around the city.
Christmas has been in the air since I first started seeing mince tarts appear on the supermarket shelves back in early October. The smell has grown with other Christmas related products hitting the shelves, the talk of work Christmas parties and thoughts of my annual Christmas pilgrimage back home to family. The fact that Christmas was just around the corner occurred a few weekends back when I saw workers erecting a large earth scaffold on the lawns of Central Park at the corner of Hay and William Streets in Perth city. The City at Christmas Lights Trails is here.
The City at Christmas Lights Trail started on the 16th of November and ends on the 24th of December. The lights for the 18 exhibits are turned on every day from 6 pm to 11 pm (not late enough I reckon, especially as it doesn't really get dark until about 8 pm) and it is completely free. Official information can be found at the visitperth.com.au City at Christmas Lights Trail webpage, which also contains a link to a pdf map of the trail. But I wouldn't worry too much about that information. I'll give you the low-down on the trail and even provide a trail map with GPS location (click on the icon in the top left corner of the map above, this will load a full-screen map, then click on the location icon located at the top right).
If you aren't too interested in walking the trail yourself or you just want me to cut to the chase, here is a video compilation of all the City at Christmas Lights Trail exhibits ...
So that's the City at Christmas Lights Trail in a nutshell. Read on if you wish to see some more pictures, read a bit of a story and see my suggestions for walking the trail.
Traditionally, my family doesn’t put up Christmas lights until the 1st of December, so it felt a little wrong to enjoy Christmas lights so early. But I thought it might be best to get in early to beat the crowds and to share with you my thoughts. Over the last week, I have made three incursions on to the trail (an advantage of living in the city). The first time I missed the "Tinsel Tunnel" and "Jingle All The Way" and wasn't happy with some of my photographs and videos. On the second attempt I found everything, but "Around the World" wasn't working, so I had to go back the next night to get a picture.
Public transport wise, the most obvious starting points are either Perth/Perth Underground Train Stations or the numerous bus stops around the city. The train stations are located in the middle of the route, so if you do come by train, you will need to visit some exhibits more than once (which isn't a bad thing).
I will start at Council House located at 27 St Georges Terrace, the southern extremity of the trail. Located on the lawns of Council House (which itself is lit up as per any other day and makes an amazing backdrop) is "Hoppy Christmas", a mob of fairy light adorned kangaroos.
Across the road (I suggest you take the crossing at the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street, but I personally just walked straight across) is the biggest and probably most visually spectacular of all the exhibits, "Christmas Projections", which as the names suggests are projections onto the walls of St George's Cathedral (lights don't start until 7:30pm).
The projections are also accompanied by music (which is turned off at 10 pm), which creates a real feast for the senses. Maybe I don't have the attention span, but I was told by a colleague at work that the projections tell a story. I didn't get it, I will need to go back and try again.
On the other side of St George's Cathedral are the next two exhibits located at the Perth City Library, "Library Lights" and "Stained Glass Christmas Tree". Personally, I am a little underwhelmed after the projections on St George’s Cathedral.
Next on the list is "Light Labyrinth" at Hibernian Place, 480 Hay Street (the new Westin Hotel).
"Light Labyrinth" lies at the eastern extremity of the walk and is probably the most out of the way exhibit. However, the walk is still very short and worth it as this was probably one of my favourites. The labyrinth is very easy for an adult, but it looked like some of the toddlers around were getting a bit lost.
Backtracking along Hay Street you will once again pass by "Library Lights" and "Stained Glass Christmas Tree" and then into Hay Street Mall where you will shortly find "Light Up Christmas" between David Jones and The Pottery Barn.
Ok, but not brilliant. Next up on the list is "Twinkle Twinkle", which was originally in Hay Street Mall in front of Enex100 but moved for unknown reasons to the corner of Hay and William Streets at the Wesley Uniting Church.
I do like "Twinkle Twinkle", but the fact that it is wrapped around a pole with signage pointing to the nearest toilets ruins it a little for me. Best to view it from Hay Street where the Wesley Uniting Church looms in the background.
On the other side of Hay Street is "Around the World", located on the lawns of Central Park.
Another good lighting exhibit, which fits well on the lawns beneath the tall trees and tall buildings.
Next, it’s along Williams Street to the Murray Street Mall and the "City of Perth Christmas Tree" located outside the City Beach store.
The lights on the tree change into all sorts of patterns with music accompaniment. The "City of Perth Christmas Tree" seems popular with kids as you can walk through a tunnel at the base.
Next is "Yours Truly", further down Murray Street Mall at Forrest Chase.
Not really a lighting exhibit, but a large inflatable ladder with Santa at the top. It could do with a bit of lighting at the top as you can hardly see Santa. Probably a better one to see during the day.
I backtrack through Murray Street Mall and head to Mitchell Lane (near The Coffee Club) to find "Jingle All The Way", an interactive display.
Doesn't look like much, but once you hop up onto the platform and step on the lights ...
"Jingle All The Way" will probably be a hit with the kids. Next, it's across William Street to the entrance of Raine Square (it's still a bit of a construction site here) to find the "Tinsel Tunnel".
Raine Square have done a good job in turning an unsightly construction tunnel into something a little fun. The trail has only been open for two weeks and "Tinsel Tunnel" is already getting a few bald spots. I guess people can't help themselves but touch it.
Backtracking through the tunnel I return to William Street and head left, crossing Wellington Street and into the relatively new Yangan Square. I can see "Santa Train" and the "Lifeline Christmas Tree", but I take a left and head down the path along the Perth Busport. Soon enough I am crossing King Street to find "Santa's Secret Elves".
There are three circular windows each containing elves preparing for Christmas. As an adult, I found it kind of boring, but I am sure the little kids will love it. I'm more into psychedelic lighting displays, and I wasn't disappointed after a short walk along Kings Square to find ...
"Christmas Constellation", a large hanging display of 20,000 spherical lights, isn’t given the justice it deserves by this photo (take a look in the video above). The best part is getting under the display itself and looking up ...
The kaleidoscopic lights are really mesmerizing under here.
From "Christmas Constellation" it's back to Yangan Square to see the "Santa Train" and the "Lifeline Christmas Tree".
You might need to bring sunglasses if you want a ride in Santa's Train (a few people at a time can hop on board), as even from outside the lights are burning my retina. The lights of the "Lifeline Christmas Tree" pale in comparison to the "Santa Train"
From Yangan Square it is across Roe and William Streets to the "Giant Bauble" at the front of the State Theatre Centre of WA.
As the name implies, it's a giant bauble which you can walk through.
Continuing north along William Street, take a right at James Street and head into the Perth Cultural Centre to find "Santa's Magical Castle".
"Santa's Magical Castle" can be seen from space as it is big, bright and colourful. You can also take a walk through the hallway of the lighting display (see the end of the video above).
And that's the City at Christmas Lights Trail all wrapped up. The path I suggest is a total of 3.5 km and it took me about 1.5 hours to complete, and I didn't even stay at each exhibit for that long. Christmas lights aren't the only events happening in Perth city this Christmas, so check out the visitperth.com.au events page for more festivities.
Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoy the City at Christmas Lights Trail.
Visitperth.com.au: Offical City of Christmas Lights Trail information.