Huge arcs of colour slice across the sky. Fountains rise and fall, brilliant lights pulse and out of the mist emerge our heroes – sports stars, leaders and national icons, accompanied by a soaring soundtrack.
Lights on the Lake is so much more than fireworks – it’s a compelling, moving and genuinely spectacular experience for Canberrans over the next four days.
The laser show is broadcast onto a shimmering screen of water that gives images of Australia’s past, present and future a dreamy, intense quality that took our breath away as Region joined the preview run last night (24 January).
The light show is a collaboration between the National Capital Authority (NCA) and National Australia Day Council.
NCA chief operating officer Hamid Heydarian says it was a staff member who came up with the ideas behind the spectacular. The show centres around the themes of reflect, respect and celebrate.
“We’ve tried to put a bit of an element of fun in there as well,” Hamid says.
“It starts by telling the story of Australia, the continent itself. We’re not representing the history of the past couple of hundred years but the thousands of years when the land has been managed and cared for by traditional owners.
“There was also then some of what are called the ‘cliché images’ about Bondi Beach, kangaroos – a fun element. But then the telling elements come through that we really care for our environment, the people doing their daily jobs who are unsung heroes that enable the rest of us to get on with our lives – the transport workers, the teachers and the nurses.
“We put a lot of effort into the images, and we’ve made sure that they’re not just high-profile figures but literally everyday Australians. It was designed to be a reflective and broad representation of what it means to be Australians.”
The show is essentially an overhead projection using powerful jets to create the misty backdrop. Shooting jets with lights trained on them create the moving elements, and Hamid says they’re apparently easily visible in surrounding suburbs, so intense is the effect.
“The best part about this is that it’s a repeatable process. Naturally, we need darkness to make it work, but we can repeat the show every half hour. The idea is to try to engage as many and reach as many people as possible”, he says.
NCA board chair Terry Weber expects thousands to throng the foreshores during the show, which runs over four nights.
The Captain Cook fountain is also running at full height, roaring up to 52 metres during the show which, the chair says, makes it the fifth tallest jet in the world and the highest fountain in the Southern Hemisphere.
The 12-minute show will run nightly at regular intervals from tonight (25 January) until 28 January. Lights on the Lake will be accompanied by night markets featuring the food, drinks and crafts Canberra has to offer.
This free community event is best viewed from Commonwealth Place on Lake Burley Griffin. More information about the event is available here.