Asian street food, roving performers & artistic projections
The Night Noodle Markets will be held each night between 3rd - 12th March, as part of the annual Enlighten Festival. This festival lights up Canberra's iconic buildings in artistic projections all around the city. The Night Noodle Markets are a large part of this event, as thousands of people make their way to Reconciliation Place every night to enjoy the party atmosphere and large selection of Asian street food for dinner. There are tables and chairs set up under colourful lanterns, however there is also a large reserve to sit on the grass and enjoy the food and entertainment on offer.
When the sun sets, the projections light up the buildings surrounding the market at 8pm, creating a magical effect around the whole markets. Look out roving performers as they mingle with the crowd and artistic aerial shows travelling around the Parliamentary Triangle.
I have never before attended such a ridiculously disorganised event! Firstly, the web site neglected to provide links to maps showing where the shuttle bus stops are and there were no signs posted at the bus stops at 5pm. This was a minor inconvenience as we asked an Action bus driver who knew nothing about the shuttle buses but directed as to platform 10.
On arrival at the Night Noodle Markets, huge signs on the fence inform us that the markets are cashless! I have been in Canberra since November and have needed cash for every market and festival we have attended, so had ONLY bought cash. (A second and third search of the website upon returning home confirmed that no, I hadn't missed that information and that NO WHERE on the site does it mention the markets as card-only or cashless). The young woman at the information desk directed us to a booth inside the market where we apparently, could obtain a card in exchange for our cash.
That was where the fun really began!! The giftcards sold for $5 each and came in $50 increments only, so the $100 cash I had in my pocket allowed me to only purchase 1 card for 2 of us! On top of that, any unused amounts cannot be refunded but, the young man reassured us that the giftcards were accepted at all stalls within the venue as well as being valid for 12 months at participating restaurants.
Having really no choice, I purchased a card and, feeling a little peeved wandered over to enjoy a cider and some music before deciding on something to eat, only to find that the bar maid had NO IDEA what to do with my freshly purchased card!! I watched in dismay as she questioned a supervisor who shook his head and waved her away!! Luckily the young man who sold me this card had the presence of mind to apologise and refund my money when I marched back to him furiously asking for an explanation.
Again to the information desk to inform the young woman from The Canberra and Region Visitors Centre that we were unhappy with the debacle and ask for information about the next shuttle bus. She could not answer our questions about the shuttle bus timetable because she only had the information on the website too. So we tried with her to decipher the information on the webpage, consulted the symbols on the Enlighten precinct map and decided that the shuttle bus route should pass the Treasury building at Langton Cres. So, we thanked the friendly, if a little disinterested information booth attendant and headed out the way we had come, to wait for the shuttle bus..... and waited... and waited...for over an hour! Luckily for us, an ACTION employee who had stopped to erect the shuttle bus signs, helped us out. My only hope is that the handful of people who had caught the shuttle to the venue with us, found their way home safely.
It is difficult to understand how an event such as this could be such a fiasco!!