Sydney sets the stage for the world’s biggest festival of light, music, and ideas.
By Ellie Schneider
Each year, Sydney becomes a canvas for brilliant light installations and projections. Vivid Sydney attracts more than 2.3 million visitors and sees historic sights – including the Sydney Opera House, Customs House and Taronga Zoo Sydney – illuminated in brilliant colour. The program also includes big-ticket music performances, creative conferences, talks, and workshops. Here’s how to take it all in.
How to get there
The best way to see Vivid Sydney is by foot and public transport. To see the centrepiece event: the lighting of the Opera House sails, catch the train to Sydney's city stations, Wynyard or Martin Place, which are all a short walk to Circular Quay. For easy access to the other precincts and venues use public transport. Plan ahead with Vivid’s helpful transport information.
Explore the Vivid Precincts
Grab a camera and see Sydney transform into a large-scale work of art over 23 nights. Australia’s harbour city is gorgeous by day, but with help from the world’s most creative artists and designers, it is transformed into something magical with light-art sculptures, grand-scale projections and installations in unexpected places. While much of the after-dark sparkle is concentrated in Circular Quay and Darling Harbour, Vivid Sydney has expanded to other popular city precincts: Barangaroo, Luna Park, Chatswood and Taronga Zoo Sydney.
Follow the Vivid Light Walk
The Vivid Light Walk guides festival-goers on how to best to enjoy the amazing light installations. The route stretches for more than two kilometres (1.2 miles) from The Rocks to the Sydney Opera House and through the Royal Botanic Garden. Many of the light installations are interactive, which adds up to hours of fun. There is so much to see that it’s a good idea to plan your route and perhaps think about returning over a few nights.
Three unique ways to experience Vivid
Book well in advance for a table at Bennelong, the upmarket restaurant located within the Sydney Opera House sails. With celebrated Australian chef Peter Gilmore at the helm, expect quality Australian ingredients, amped up with a modern twist, and epic view. Climb the Harbour Bridge at night for a bird’s-eye view of the projections. Wearing your flashing Vivid Climb Vest, you will become part of the light show. Ferries, cruise boats and water taxis are adorned with bright lights during the festival. Experience the spectacular 3D light projections along the harbour from the comfort of a harbour cruise.
Unlock your imagination at Vivid Ideas
Vivid Ideas runs alongside the public light show and is an annual celebration of innovation and creativity, comprising of more than 200 events and 400 speakers. The program is diverse, bringing together Australia’s creative industries – design, architecture, film, animation and advertising – to exchange ideas and mingle.
Be blown away by a performance at Vivid Music
Each year the Sydney Opera House plays host to a stellar line-up of Australian and international artists as part of Vivid Music. Previous hot-ticket performances saw the likes of Cat Power, Solange and Ice Cube. Other small bars and large venues, such as the multi-arts centre Carriageworks in Eveleigh, host an eclectic range of live performances and collaborations.