20 September 2023

Shellharbour's incredible light and sound spectacle recognised on national stage

| Dione David
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Child stands in laser lights at The Enchanted Forest light and sound spectacle at Shellharbour's Blackbutt Forest Reserve

Over 23 nights LASERVISION transformed Blackbutt Forest in Shellharbour into The Enchanted Forest – an immersive light and sound show that has now won a national award. Photos: LASERVISION.

The Enchanted Forest – the laser light and soundscape experience that attracted more than 66,000 visitors over 23 nights – has been named ‘Best Small Regional Event’ at the Australian Event Awards and Symposium.

Industry gathered at the Highline Venue in Bankstown NSW on 13 September to celebrate the best of the best, which included the likes of Sydney WorldPride 2023, Vivid Sydney 2023 and Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2023.

Visitors came from as far north as Sydney and as far south as Nowra to see the Enchanted Forest, which transformed a portion of Blackbutt Forest into an immersive, interactive, multi-sensory nighttime experience using dazzling laser effects, interactive projections, holograms and custom soundscapes.

The production was one of a number of events under the ‘LUNA Light Journey’ series created by LASERVISION, the Aussie company behind Hong Kong’s ‘Symphony of Lights’, Dubai Festival City’s ‘Imagine’ and Marina Bay Sands Singapore’s ‘Wonder Full’, to name just a few.

LASERVISION CEO Shannon Brooks said the team was “ecstatic” about the win, as well as the community’s reaction to the event.

“This recognition from people within the industry, particularly a body like the Australian Event Awards, knowing you’re doing something fantastic, something new and innovative for regional areas is wonderful,” he said.

“With The Enchanted Forest, we sought to bring something to the community that they perhaps don’t traditionally see anywhere, let alone in their backyard.

“Hearing their reactions to that was fantastic – it’s what we do this for.”

READ ALSO ‘Where the impossible appears right before their eyes’ – Shellharbour’s Blackbutt Forest to host The Enchanted Forest

Mr Brooks said given the event’s success, he hoped to turn it into a yearly tradition.

“We want to make this a staple on the Illawarra calendar, something everyone can look forward to each year and get excited about,” he said.

“Each year the pressure will be on us to think of a whole new concept, and that’s what we pride ourselves on. It’s more than just pretty lights – it’s a whole narrative.”

Though nothing is nailed down yet, the LASERVISION creative team is already brainstorming ideas and looking at new ways to utilise the natural features of the environment to create a fresh, awe-inspiring experience.

And while the story might change, a few things will be constant at all their events.

“We will give children and the young at heart the ability to escape reality and be immersed in a fantasy land,” Shannon said.

“We want them to stop thinking of everything else and be in the moment – that’s what we’ll bring them next year.”

READ ALSO Proposed Waterfront Centre a community hub for all Shellharbour residents

The Enchanted Forest was funded by the Regional Events Acceleration Fund, Regional NSW in association with Shellharbour City Council.

Shellharbour City Mayor Chris Homer said he was thrilled that The Enchanted Forest had won the prestigious industry award.

“I am so proud of the Council staff who delivered this event. It was a unique and unforgettable experience for people of all ages,” Mayor Homer said.

“To have the event recognised on the national stage is wonderful. Feedback from our community was extremely positive, with many attendees travelling from outside the Shellharbour local government area to enjoy the amazing light and laser installations and soundscapes.

“Hosting 66,200 people over a three-week period was a mammoth effort on behalf of all involved. The response we had exceeded our expectations, which were already high.

“The overwhelming success of the Enchanted Forest has truly helped put Shellharbour City on the map as an event destination.”

Hologram of a stag at The Enchanted Forest light and sound spectacle at Shellharbour's Blackbutt Forest Reserve

The Enchanted Forest will return in 2024, but it’s not yet known if this year’s protagonist, the magical stag, will make a comeback.

More categories and winners were announced than ever before at the awards night, which was held in conjunction with a symposium to foster continued excellence, innovation and unity in Australia’s event industry.

The awards program is the only opportunity for Australian event professionals to compete directly right across the nation and across all facets of the industry to recognise the nation’s best events and event-related goods, services and innovations.

The full list of winners can be found on the Event Awards website.

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