Festival set to enlighten Canberra
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Festival set to enlighten Canberra

Canberra will come alive with light and sound from Friday night as the 2014 Enlighten festival kicks off.

Six buildings in the Parliamentary Triangle, including both Parliament Houses and the National Gallery, will be illuminated with special architectural projections over the whole nine days of the festival.

Meanwhile, the rainforest and the red centre gardens at the National Botanic Gardens will be bathed in specially designed lighting displays for the next two weeks.

The festival will take place in the capital between February 28 and March 8, with a number of events planned throughout Canberra. Live music, film screenings and after-hours tours will be just some of the mostly free events.

At the National Botanical Gardens, visitors can go on a tour of the professionally lit rainforest gully before being driven up to the new red centre garden, which was opened in November.

And at the end of the night, guests can have drinks and dessert and enjoy the view over the gardens.

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Among the elaborate lighting displays are six towers of light, which will create the illusion that the gardens are moving gently in a light breeze, while blue lighting will run through a dry riverbed to present the impression of water.

The tour is a first for the red centre garden, which features plants from Australia's dry interior and has never been open to the public at night before.

''What people will get is a contrasting display of these two different micro-climates and habitats, the most lush rainforests from Queensland and then the arid, red centre garden right in the middle of Canberra,'' event director with the Botanic Gardens Jennifer Salkeld said.

She said seeing the gardens at night was an amazing way to appreciate the environment, and the recent rain had made the red centre garden look truly spectacular.

''We've just had a boom period, [with] over 16 plants in bloom at the moment in the red centre garden. We've had this burst of colour,'' she said.

■ More information can be found on the festival website at enlightencanberra.com.au.