Despite the first weekend of summer delivering disappointing weather, nothing could stop Perthians from heading to Oxford Street to enjoy the annual Light Up Leederville festival. Since it’s inaugural year in 2012 this free, all-ages celebration has attracted a lot of popularity. In its first year alone around 24,000 people enjoyed Leederville’s vibrancy and last year’s festival racked up around 80,000 visitors. It was no doubt that this year’s celebration would be just as busy and entertaining.
Even with the overcast sky ahead, the energy and enjoyment could be felt, seen and heard as soon as you hopped off at Leederville Train Station. At the very base of Oxford Street a DJ set the vibrant mood with beats that made your shoulders bounce. A few steps further Western Australia’s favourite dairy brand, Brownes, had a truck loaded with crates of Chill milk and were handing them out for free like there was no tomorrow… seriously I ended up with about nine 300ml ice coffees after walking past twice.
Down the main strip festival goers were able to revel on street food, live art, pop-up bars, market stalls as well as enjoying the local restaurants and cafes that contributed to Leederville’s spirited and urban lifestyle. Every so often you’d walk by (and ignore) a local government representative or real estate business that was occuping a tent. But when you came across local craftsmanship, like Charlie & James jewellery, or venders that wafted scrumptious smells and tastes, like The Market Juicery, Low Key Chow House and Pinchos, you couldn’t help but stop and devour.
Several stages had been set up for live music, as well as local talent playing at Bills Bar, Blue Flamingo and Babushka, which maintained the vibrant atmosphere throughout Oxford Street. Between the popular skate park and playground, show rides and games occupied what’s usually the car park, making you feel like you’re at an American carnival — a cliché that you don’t mind indulging in.
Of course, like getting anywhere in Perth, the problem of HOW you were going to get to Leederville was the tricky part. The parking on your average Friday evening is enough of a nightmare, let alone when they shut down the main car park for the carnival area. The easiest and most cost effective option was public transport, specifically the train, seeing as Leederville Station is only a walkover bridge away from the main strip. But in true Perth fashion, there were electrical problems on parts of the Joondalup line, so anyone living between Whitfords and Butler had to either car, bike or bus it.
Without a doubt, Oxford Street is an underrated, hidden Perth gem that’s finally getting the attention it deserves, and at the right time and day it functions and feels like the Cappuccino Strip (aka South Terrace, Fremantle) on a Friday and Saturday evening. Throughout the year Oxford Street is a splendid place to eat, enjoy and wander. The tightknit community of Leederville has yet again done a brilliant job at making this urban village come to life for Light Up Leederville and showcasing why it’s such a wonderful suburb to live, work and hang out in.
“It’s a town centre with a beating heart, a bit of grunge and grit, and a great sense of community,” writes City of Vincent Mayor, John Carey, on their website, “’Light Up Leaderville’ doesn’t just help put this great café, leisure and retail strip on the map, it also brings different communities together.”