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Vivid SydneyMay 27 - June 18

  • Sydney
  • Major Events
  • Art and Culture
  • New South Wales

Sydney, New South Wales

See Sydney in a sparkling new light during the annual Vivid Sydney. Each winter, the world’s best designers and artists transform the city. See stunning images projected onto Sydney Opera House, control the lights on the Harbour Bridge, play with interactive light sculptures throughout the city centre, experience great music and hear inspiring talks.

What's new in 2016

Iconic Opera House Sails: In a Vivid Sydney first, the sails of the world-heritage listed Sydney Opera House will celebrate the rich and diverse work of Australia’s Indigenous artists through the projection, Songlines. Six Indigenous artists will illustrate the extraordinary connections between Indigenous astronomy and the natural world - the celestial and terrestrial Songlines that weave through time and distance, earth and sky.

Light up Taronga Zoo: As part of the zoo’s centenary celebrations, Tarong, in a collaboration with Ample Projects, has put together a collection of light sculptures that will be among the largest and most technologically advanced lanterns ever featured in Vivid Sydney. This is the first time that Taronga have been involved in Vivid. Visitors to Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo will be welcomed by a grand projection onto the façade of Taronga’s historic main entrance followed by a trail illuminated creatures including a two-metre tall Sumatran Tiger, a four-metre high bilby, a five-metre wide marine turtle with moving parts and a bright blue Asian Elephant and some smaller friends like an echidna, chameleon, crocodile, cicadas and even a funnel-web spider. 

Birthday celebrations: At Garden of Light, visitors will take a glittering journey through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney as part of its 200th birthday celebrations. Insider tip: the impressive 60-metre long Cathedral of Light, made from hundreds of thousands of white LEDs is set to be amazing. 

Vivid Music: There are new sounds and venues for 2016, with highlights including the world premiere of Björk Digital, plus synth-pop legends New Order, indie folk band Bon Iver and jazz artist Esperenza Spalding at Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Conservatorium of Music will present The Sound Gardens: Vivid New Music performed by talented students with guest artists Natasha Anderson, Anthony Pateras and Clayton Thomas. Vivid Music venues joining the line-up in 2016 include Newtown Social Club, brand new venue Cake Wines Cellar Door. 

Vivid Festival, Museum of
Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW

Reasons to attend

1. What started out as a little idea to boost winter business in central Sydney is now one of the city’s biggest success stories. Vivid started in 2009 with four elements but has since been streamlined into three simple concepts – light, music and ideas – that unfold over 18 days. The event is now so popular that it attracts nearly 1.5 million attendees each year.

2. Grab a camera and experience Sydney in a whole other light. Australia’s harbour city is gorgeous by day but, with help from the world’s most cutting-edge artists and designers, it is transformed into something magical with light-art sculptures, grand-scale projections and installations in unexpected places.

Experience: The Sydney Harbour Bridge can be climbed all year but it’s particularly spectacular during Vivid. Climb the bridge at night for a bird’s-eye view of the projections on the Opera House sails and the lighting of other city landmarks. For the past few years, climbers have worn flashing vests to become part of the light show. 

3. Regular festival-goers look forward to Vivid’s centrepiece event: the lighting of the Opera House sails. Previously, the iconic sails have become a canvas for projections that included snakeskin, butterfly wings and space-inspired patterns, and included imagery from musicians Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson.

4. While much of the after-dark sparkle is concentrated in Circular Quay and Darling Harbour, Vivid Sydney’s brilliant light also returns to Chatswood, Central Park and the Australian National Maritime Museum, Martin Place and new precinct The Galeries, which becomes the festival’s first indoor precinct. Treasured attractions, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Taronga Zoo, will light up during Vivid Sydney in celebration of the monumental anniversaries both celebrate in 2016. 

Experience: Get off land and experience VIVID from a whole new angle. Jump aboard a boat for a dining cruise that includes a 6-course degustation menu, vintage Australian wines and a liove band to soundtrack your view of Sydney illuminated in colour. 

Vivid Sydney, Walsh Bay,
Sydney Harbour, NSW

5. Sydney’s harbour watercraft also join in the Vivid fun. Ferries, cruise boats and water taxis are adorned with bright lights during the festival. Darling Harbour showcases “dancing” water jets, sculptural fountains, full-colour lasers, video projections and marine fireworks during Vivid. 250,000 people watch the shows unfold hourly from 6pm until 11pm, with an extra show on Saturdays.

6. Vivid’s cutting-edge music program covers everything from indie, pop and rock concerts through to classical orchestras – previous big names include The Pixies, Pet Shop Boys and Lauryn Hill. The gigs take place in venues ranging from intimate subterranean spaces through to the grand Sydney Opera House Concert Hall.


How to get here

Don a pair of comfortable walking shoes. The best way to see Vivid is on foot so start in Circular Quay, head to Martin Place and on to Darling Harbour. Buses regularly service The Star casino and the University of Sydney; take a short taxi ride to Carriageworks.


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