Darwin International Laksa Festival
Sunday, 28th November 2021, State Square, Parliament House, Darwin
Sunday, 27th November 2022, State Square, Parliament House, Darwin
Sunday, 29th October 2023, State Square, Parliament House, Darwin
Activate Darwin, Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet
Northern Territory Government
The event involved comprehensive operational planning, including site layout, engaging artists and celebrity chefs, and developing creative concepts and themes. Health regulations were adhered to, alongside managing logistics such as bump in/out schedules, permits, and traffic. The festival featured a main stage with full production facilities, a large marquee, a Tasting Tent for local businesses, and necessary electrical infrastructure. Security, public safety, and risk management were crucial, with plans for waste management, emergency response, and public amenities. Additional elements included children’s entertainment, vendor coordination, and effective communication strategies. Feedback had led to the introduction of smaller Laksa portions and the use of thematic materials from previous festivals to enhance the event.
Case Study: Summary of Event Services Provided
Visualizing the festival experience, we identified potential pressure points, such as weather variations impacting attendees’ comfort. Strategic placements of marquees and thoughtful navigational planning were crucial, especially in maintaining access to amenities like bars without battling the elements. The play of lights during the limited hours of darkness was a key element, requiring a creative approach to maintain the perfect ambiance during the festival’s peak hours.
Venue selection introduced unique challenges, particularly when the event was moved to the lawn in front of the Parliament House, a site with potential but lacking in infrastructure. Our role as the event managment company was to come up with innovative solutions to address these challenges, such as erecting a massive tent to protect attendees from unpredictable weather conditions while keeping the budget intact. Our attention to detail was comprehensive, covering everything from sun and wind patterns for optimal tent placement to the strategic location of essential facilities, ensuring a seamless and inclusive festival experience.
The collaboration with the audiovisual team and Techy, our long-time artistic partner, was instrumental in transforming a vast, empty tent into a lively thematic space, with light playing a crucial role in delicately balancing visibility and atmosphere. Agentur’s approach to event design is inherently dynamic, emphasizing the importance of flexibility and collaboration with suppliers, allowing for a rich tapestry of experiences and innovations that elevate not just the event but the industry standard in Darwin.
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Diving Deeper into the Event Management Details
Vision and Concept:
In planning, when you closed your eyes and pictured the event what stood out to you as pressure points or opportunities?
Visualizing the experience became crucial. I had to imagine walking into the venue and then stepping out and encountering a completely different weather scenario upon re-entry. Considerations ranged from seeking shade to avoiding rain, and marquees had to be strategically set up. It required putting myself in the shoes of festivalgoers, considering scenarios like reaching the bar without getting wet.
With only two hours of darkness, the play of lights became a key element. From 3 pm to 7 pm, the festival was in full swing with varying weather conditions. Considering how attendees would navigate the festival in different scenarios, including rain, became paramount. – Marijana
What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?
We were presented with a new challenge by the client who wanted to move the event to the lawn in front of the Parliament House. This piece of grass, essentially a square in the middle of town, lacked infrastructure despite its potential for hosting events. The Laksa Festival, with its 5000 attendees in November, brought additional challenges due to unpredictable weather conditions.
To address heat and rain issues without exceeding the budget, I proposed building a massive tent, 40 by 25 meters, as the main area for watching performances and dining. The tent’s strategic placement balanced the overall look of the venue, with food, bars, and entertainment on the other side. Setting up large fans for airflow and leaving sides of the tent open were carefully considered after multiple consultations with suppliers, analysing sun and wind patterns at different times of the day.
Attention to detail included irrigation, toilet placements, children’s areas, smoking zones, and ambulance access. Working with the designer Techy, who has been a longtime collaborator, we focused on theming the event. Techy, a unique and talented artist, provided impressive results, creating beautiful lamps and executing the festival’s new look, including an improved stage and logo, leaving everyone impressed with the outcome. – Marijana
Unique Touches and Themes:
What was your favourite distinctive touch or theme from this event?
Creating the theme inside the large, empty white tent presented its own set of challenges. Collaborating with the audiovisual team became essential to breathe life into the space. This task was crucial as the event initiated at 3 pm and concluded at 9 pm, requiring careful planning to transition seamlessly from daylight to night and enhance the overall atmosphere. – Marijana
Event Design and Layout:
How did you approach event design to avoid dead spaces and ensure a seamless flow for attendees?
In my drawings, when I encounter empty spaces, a natural instinct kicks in—I start filling them. It’s a process of asking, “What do we need to fill these spaces?” There’s a list, and you begin distributing elements accordingly. As the project unfolds, new ideas might emerge during planning. Something unexpected might strike you, like replacing a water trailer with a more exciting concept. I believe in giving the creative process space, allowing the magic to unfold. Flexibility is key; you can’t rigidly adhere to initial plans. Suppliers play a crucial role—they must be part of the team, sharing the vision and collaborating. When everyone is on the same team, the suppliers understand the goal, and they often contribute innovative ideas. This collaborative approach not only enhances the event but also elevates the entire industry in Darwin. – Marijana
Lighting and Atmosphere:
Talk about the role lighting played at this event. What were some considerations that influenced lighting design?
The lighting aspect was quite straightforward for me. The challenge was maintaining the atmosphere without flooding the stage with bright, shiny lights during performances or cooking segments. Striking the perfect balance was crucial—ensuring visibility for those on stage while adjusting the lighting appropriately based on the activity.
Collaboration with the audio and visual teams, along with the lighting crew, was key. Communicating the desired atmosphere, we worked together to achieve the right mix. Continuous adjustments were made throughout the night to ensure optimal lighting conditions for different segments.
Given the limited two-hour timeframe, preparation was essential. We always set up the night before and conducted a thorough walkthrough of all scenarios. This preparation allowed us to fine-tune the lighting based on actual conditions, ensuring a seamless and visually appealing experience for the event attendees. – Marijana
Catering and Culinary Experience:
How did you curate catering options to align with the theme and atmosphere?
With the Laksa Festival, we initiate an expression of interest for vendors. The criterion is clear—anything related to laksa. Whether it’s traditional laksa dishes or innovative creations like laksa-inspired ice cream, the focus is on celebrating this iconic dish. We encourage diversity while ensuring that each food stall offers something laksa-inspired. Even an ice cream shop can participate, providing a section with laksa-infused options alongside regular treats for kids.
In instances where there’s a shortage of sign-ups, we take the initiative to curate and invite potential vendors. We actively reach out to individuals we believe would contribute positively to the festival. It’s not solely reliant on expressions of interest; we curate the lineup to ensure a vibrant and diverse Laksa Festival experience. – Marijana