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Vivid lights festival's epic entertainment line-up

Sydney’s winter festival of lights, music and ideas is back, and the program is more impressive than ever. We’ve rounded up Vivid 2017’s must-book musical performances.

By Dan F Stapleton
Published: 20 March, 2017

Picture this: you’re strolling beside Sydney’s iconic harbour on a mild evening, when suddenly the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are transformed by dazzling projections of technicoloured light. All around you, the streets buzz with people on their way to thought-provoking panel discussions and talks, while clubs and concert halls are welcoming guests for both enormous and intimate music performances. This is Vivid, Sydney’s annual celebration of light, music and ideas, and it’s happening this May and June. While the light installations remain free and unticketed, the festival drew more than two million visitors last year, so it’s wise to book ticketed events well in advance. To help you choose from the scores of musical performances on offer, we’ve rounded up five events you absolutely shouldn’t miss.


When: 26 – 29 May

Fleet Foxes haven’t played live for five years, but these hugely popular American folk-rockers have chosen to break the drought at Vivid. Over four nights at the Sydney Opera House, they will showcase material from their keenly anticipated third album Crack-Up and delve into their rich back catalogue, which includes 2011’s Grammy-nominated Helplessness Blues. Anticipating strong demand, Vivid organisers are running a ticket ballot, which is open now.


The Avalanches, Vivid, Sydney, New South Wales

When: 27 – 28 May

The Avalanches, a globally acclaimed Aussie electronic group, made a triumphant return in 2016 with Wildflower, their first album in 16 years. After playing some of the Northern Hemisphere’s biggest festivals in recent months, they’re coming home for their most extravagant concert to date: a street-style block party that will take over the Sydney Opera House’s northern boardwalk against a world-famous backdrop of harbour, bridge and, of course, Opera House. Joining the Avalanches will be two of Australia’s most exciting MCs, Briggs and Sampa the Great, plus the iconic American producer and turntablist, DJ Shadow.


When: 1 – 17 June

The newly opened Golden Age Cinema and Bar has become one of Sydney’s most popular small venues. It hosts cult movies in its intimate screening room and welcomes a diverse array of Australian musicians to its stage every Thursday for free-entry sessions. This year Vivid has teamed up with Golden Age for a series of free (but ticketed) concerts that will showcase the best contemporary musicians rising out of the Aussie underground. Expect an eclectic line-up including plenty of female and minority musicians. But don’t be late getting your tickets: capacity is strictly limited.


Goldfrapp, Vivid, Sydney, New South Wales

When: 2 June

Lauded British electro-pop duo Goldfrapp return in 2017 with a new album, Silver Eye, and a handful of live dates across the globe. For Vivid, Goldfrapp will take over Carriageworks, a cavernous converted railway shed sandwiched between Sydney’s trendy Redfern and Newtown precincts. It’s a sophisticated and atmospheric venue that offers a window onto the city’s gritty industrial past, providing a very local context to a very international act.


Laura Marling, Vivid, Sydney, New South Wales

When: 12 June

It’s hard to believe that English singer-songwriter Laura Marling is only 27. She’s already released six albums and been nominated for every major UK award going, including multiple Brits and the Mercury Prize. For her Opera House performance, Marling is promising a career-spanning set list without frills. Will her delicate voice and playing be able to fill the grand concert hall? Judging on her previous mesmerising Australian performances, the answer is a resounding yes.