This annual event takes place on the third Saturday in May each year in more than 30 European cities. There will be special events, treasure hunts, readings, concerts and, best news of all, almost everything is free. Here’s The Local’s guide to getting the most out of the night:
1. Plan, plan, then throwaway the plan
Consult the online programme and map out your route. A little preparation will make the night much easier. You don’t want to waste hours standing on some bridge arguing about which museum to visit next. And the site has suggestions for major cities, including Lyons, Dijon, Bourges, Strasbourg, Lille, Rouen, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Angers and Marseilles.
Then feel free to dump your carefully plotted plan in a bin when you overhear someone else talking about this extraordinary thing they have discovered and go with the flow.
2. Be patient
When you are consulting the official website, try not to scream, it is at best frustrating. You have to navigate a map rather than a traditional programme format and the map covers all of Europe. The translation is also done by an online translator, so prepare to sigh. It is actually much easier if you know the specific museums you are interested in visiting, as they have individual programmes of events. But half the fun of a night like this is visiting somewhere you’ve never been before.
3. Wear comfortable shoes and travel light
Wear shoes for the longhaul rather than the first impression. There will be distances to cover and you might even find yourself dancing in the middle of a museum. And blisters are never a good partner with great art. Leave your skateboard and shopping trolley at home, they will just prove a nuisance when you are going through endless security checks.
4. Come early – or late – to avoid endless queues
Arriving at the Louvre at 8pm is always going to mean a giant queue. And nothing ruins a night quicker than spending most of it standing in an unmoving line. Try to escape peak times at the major museums, plan to be somewhere small and quirky when all the world wants to see Mona Lisa.
5. Visit a museum you’ve never been to before
Do a lucky dip. Pick somewhere you’ve never heard of and know nothing about. What about the Bourdelle Museum with its sculpture-filled garden in Paris? Or the stunning swimming pool museum in Robaix, Hauts-de-France?
6. Get your family and friends out, make it social
Gather the troops, this is a night for multi-generations. Art is very much a shared experience and you can usually find something that everyone loves – or hates.
7. Plan a pitstop
You will always need refreshing and wouldn’t a night of culture be wonderfully enhanced by a delicious picnic on the banks of the Seine if you’re in Paris. Your mind will need a little pause from all the intellectual overload. Find a spot, listen to the music (there’s always music from somewhere) and watch the bateaux mouches go by as you eat a baguette with some good smelly local cheese and some saucisson.