Progress marches quickly in this cosmopolitan city, whether it’s hosting Australia’s biggest ever arts event or investing billions of dollars in major metro redevelopments.

With the mining boom in its wake and a billion dollar building boom gaining momentum, Perth is a city that knows success on a grand scale – ‘bigger is better’ seems to be its unofficial mantra.

This was certainly the case for the 63rd Perth International Arts Festival, where the city welcomed a pair of giant visitors in The Incredible and Phenomenal Journey of The Giants to the Streets of Perth.

Perth International Arts Festival is the longest running international arts festival in the country and Western Australia’s premier cultural event and this year – thanks to The Giants – proved the biggest arts event Australia has ever hosted. And giant events require giant planning.

“Festivals are a long time in the preparation and are very quick in the consuming,” the festival’s artistic director, Jonathan Holloway, said.

“And the way that audiences have devoured the 2015 festival has exceeded even our expectations.”

An audience of 1.4 million experienced The Giants, performed by France’s famed street theatre company Royal de Luxe, to mark the opening of the festival in February.

Visitors from around Australia and the world joined the city and fell in love with the six-metre Little Girl Giant and stood in awe of the 11-metre high Diver Giant.

Over three days, the narrative wove together a commemoration of the Centenary of Anzac and the role of Australian troops in World War I, as well as a celebration of the Aboriginal community of Western Australia, uniting the city in child-like wonder.

The Giants wandered the city for two days, surrounded by cranes and Lilliputians in red coast (the operators of the enormous artworks) who leapt into the air as The Giants walked through the CBD. On day three the Little Girl Giant and the Diver Giant finally found each other, embracing at Langley Park.

Mr Holloway said: “They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a city to raise a giant.

“Perth came together for this event and everyone embraced it. This is one of the largest examples of the extraordinary transformational quality of art.

“It has been widely accepted that Perth will never forget the weekend it walked with giants.”

While an economic impact study into The Giants’ visit is currently underway (expected economic impact has been flagged around the $65 million mark), record attendance figures and the overwhelmingly positive response from visitors and locals indicate the $5.4 million expense to bring The Giants to Perth (including $2 million from the State Government) was well worth it.

Festival organisers said many businesses in Perth on the route of The Giants took advantage of the event by hosting staff or guests at their hotels, restaurants, bars and even offices – and there were giant ‘drinks’, ‘burgers’, ‘savings’ and ‘parties’ plugged by many.

PCOs and meeting planners Australia-wide can also make the most of Perth’s creative culture and engage with city-wide events like the annual Perth International Arts Festival as a pre or post meeting activity.

For more information on the Perth International Arts Festival visit www.perthfestival.com.au/ or contact the Perth Convention Bureau (PCB) about hosting conferences and events in Perth via www.pcb.com.au

By Lauren Arena

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