Mandylights at Canberra’s Floriade NightFest

Posted on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010


The Mandylights team spent over a month in Canberra lighting the enormous Floriade NightFest event – an after dark opening of the huge Floriade flower festival that has been growing in popularity over the last three years. Following an intensive tender process, Australian Capital Tourism chose Mandylights to design the event’s lighting to be more spectacular and theatrical than previous years. While not only creating unique lighting treatments for each themed flower bed, Mandylights also presented a unique tailored logistics solution that included power and data management, rigging, equipment sourcing and creation – in other words, a complete lighting design and equipment solution for the entire event.

Floriade’s theme of “Imagination” proved to be a great base for the sit’s lighting design. NightFest featured candy-coloured shafts of light and spinning pinwheels in the Lollypop Land, a dramatic rainbow of ACLs in the Rainbow Bed, dipped green festoon and a stunning row of LED floods in the aptly named Alien landscape, and a spectacular installation of hanging, internally lit umbrellas in the Rhododendron garden amongst other areas of the site.

Not content with over five hundred theatrical fixtures on site, Mandylights had a number of custom fixtures manufactured that ranged from giant inflatable stars to the umbrellas, hundreds of hanging nylon lanterns and custom-dipped festoon.

The event was designed to continually change and evolve throughout the night, with each bed running a detailed list of cues which ensured that guests would experience different lighting as they continued to walk around the site over the course of the event. Each area was meticulously planned and cued, with nothing left to operate by itself or on ‘random’ modes.

The final design included twenty-two custom-built scaffolding towers which housed the bulk of the event’s lighting – a concept that hadn’t been seen before on the Floriade site. Created to be completely weather-proof, Mandylights succeeded in creating a system that would not need to be turned off during rain; something that had happened in previous years before Mandylights was brought on board.

Mandylights installed a site-wide ethernet network that spanned the entire site using both WiFi and network cabling that was installed months before the event in underground conduits around the site. During NightFest, every single lighting fixture was set up to be controlled via iPhone and iPad remotes, enabling operators to execute cues or even bring up emergency lighting states from anywhere in the two square kilometre park. Distributed control reduced the risk of console crash or systems failure, while the integration of wireless DMX, WiFi and hard cabling provided the most flexible and fastest methods of installation.

Mandylights was responsible for the event’s crewing and management of the entire setup and pack down process. The company’s core team was on site for over a month and supervised the installation of scaffolding, nearly a kilometre of underground conduit, aerial catenary cabling, installation of 500kVa of generators in addition to the actual lighting installations. With the bulk of work undertaken overnight, hours and weather conditions were incredibly demanding to the crew who performed exceptionally throughout the project.

With critical acclaim pouring in from both local and national news, an exceptionally pleased client and thousands of amazed visitors, the 2010 Floriade NightFest was a huge success for Mandylights. The project was delivered on time, on budget and exceeded everyone’s expectations. Planning for the 2011 event is already underway with many more surprises in store.