Lights out: seven unmissable after-dark festivals this autumn

Some of the best artistic and cultural offerings happen after dark. Stay awake and soak up a late-night dose of culture.Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Amsterdam Dance Event, Melkweg.
Amsterdam Dance Event, Melkweg.
photo by Mark Richter

As autumn approaches, a new season is upon us in more ways than one. Across the world, museums, galleries, theatres and clubs are starting to fling open their doors after hours to celebrate their cultural offerings and Europe is leading the way. Head to Nit de l’Art in Palma de Mallorca (21 September) and watch the streets come alive with performance art and street theatre as the city’s best venues usher you in until midnight. There’s an air of secrecy surrounding these celebrations as organisers keep details well under wraps until the night itself. 

Meanwhile, over in the French capital, the Nuit Blanche festival transforms Paris (5 October) into an all-night celebration, with performers taking to stages across the city from 7pm until 7am. This year, visitors can sign up for La Grande Traversée — two night races across the city that give running revellers after-dark access to the likes of the Louvre, the Musée Guimet and the Centre Pompidou.

The party continues in Copenhagen, where Kulturnatten will illuminate the Danish capital for one night only (11 October). More than 250 museums, theatres, libraries, churches and parks will welcome night owls looking for an extra dose of culture. Past events have included burlesque performances in the Frederiksberg Library, Cold War fashion shows, silent meditations and much, much more.

DJ on the decks at Amsterdam Dance Event.
DJ on the decks at Amsterdam Dance Event.
photo by Jordy Brada

Four more festivals to try

Amsterdam Dance Event, Netherlands — 16-20 October
The world’s biggest club festival of electronic music attracts a whopping 370,000 people and thousands of musicians for a packed programme of events across the Dutch capital. The five-day festival also features a host of conferences and screenings by day, but the fun really starts when the sun goes down.

Illuminus, Boston — 19 October
This is New England’s answer to Paris’s Nuit Blanche — for one night only, the cityscape becomes an immersive, artistic playground. Expect a colourful array of smart, thought-provoking installations dotted around the Downtown Crossing area that celebrate the historic city’s emerging tech sector.

North Pennines Stargazing Festival — 23 October-3 November
Watch the skies twinkle in one of the darkest swathes of mainland Britain. Pop-up planetarium events mark the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing and stargazing supper clubs let you explore the skies with expert photographers.

Diwali, Amritsar — 27-30 October 
It’s celebrated all over the world, but if you can get to the northern Indian city of Amritsar, the celebrations will dazzle. Tens of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs will head to the Golden Temple, which will be covered with lights and its surrounding pool will be aglow with candles and ceramic lanterns. 

Published in the October 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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