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Ultimate Guide to Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney 2019 runs for 23 consecutive days between 24th May – 15th June.

The largest festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere, Vivid Sydney is an incredible festival of lights, music and ideas. Owned and produced by Destination NSW, Vivid Sydney attracted 2.5 million snap-happy attendees in 2018. Bursting with innovation and creativity, Vivid Sydney is one of Australia’s most loved festivals.

See the city transformed. Discover new artforms. Ride soundwaves. Spark new ideas and ignite conversations. Let your imagination take flight.

- Vivid Sydney

Vivid festival, based in Sydney, NSW brings together light artists, music makers and creative minds to share their ideas with you. Attendees can marvel at bigger than life, outdoor light installations across Vivid Light; watch live music performances and collaborations at Vivid Music & Vivid LIVE, and engage in creative discussion and debate at Vivid Ideas. 
Whether you visit beautiful Sydney Harbour, get lost in the colourful lights of the Botanic gardens or enjoy live performances at the Sydney Opera House, there is something for everyone at Vivid Sydney. 

Vivid Light

The star attraction of Vivid Sydney is its Vivid Light festival where Sydney’s top landmarks and skyline become illuminated in creative and interactive light projections. Lights are turned on at 6pm every night over the course of the 23-day festival, and there are over 50 installations for attendees to discover, making Vivid Lights well worth multiple visits.
Andrew Thomas Huang’s Austral Flora Ballet
Andrew Thomas Huang’s Austral Flora Ballet

Lighting of the Sails

Sydney Opera House

Vivid Lights kicks off every evening with the inaugural Lighting of the Sails. Watch as the Sydney Opera House comes to life with large-scale projections and music. <o:p></o:p>

This year, award-winning Los Angeles-based Andrew Thomas Huang is the torch-bearer entrusted with the Lighting of the Sails at the Sydney Opera House. Huang’s installation is called ‘Austral Flora Ballet’ and is a tribute to Australia’s native plants such as the New South Wales waratah, kangaroo paws and red beard orchids.<o:p></o:p>

This year, award-winning Los Angeles-based Andrew Thomas Huang is the torch-bearer entrusted with the Lighting of the Sails at the Sydney Opera House. Huang’s installation is called ‘Austral Flora Ballet’ and is a tribute to Australia’s native plants such as the New South Wales waratah, kangaroo paws and red beard orchids.<o:p></o:p>

Get up close to installations at Vivid Light Walk
Get up close to installations at Vivid Light Walk

Vivid Light Walk

Vivid’s famous Light Walk showcases 50 of the best outdoor light installations stretching over 3 kilometres. Starting at The Rocks, this outdoor gallery winds around Circular Quay to the Sydney Opera House and into the Royal Botanic Gardens. Taking you past the city’s biggest light installations on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and Customs House, Vivid Light Walk makes sure you catch a glimpse of all the draw cards. <o:p></o:p>

More of a ‘choose your own adventure’ rather than a prescribed trail, Vivid Light Walk is packed full of break-away spaces for you to sit, enjoy, and soak up the atmosphere and installations throughout the evening. Eateries and drinking holes also line this trail, providing plenty of comfy, warm places to rest your feet. <o:p></o:p>

Nature, childhood daydreams and retro-futures are the major themes running through this year’s festival. From those on a monstrous scale to others which beckon creativity, asking visitors to move through, around and under – this year’s Vivid Light Walk showcases a whole range of installations. Download Vivid Sydney's 2019 Lightwalk map for 2019 to plan your visit.   


Take the plunge this year at Under The Harbour hosted at Customs House
Take the plunge this year at Under The Harbour hosted at Customs House

This Year’s Major Installations

Customs House
Under the Harbour
Dive into a surreal underwater experience at Customs House. This hyper-coloured multi-verse dares you to explore the depth of the ocean for neon sea creatures, botanical wonderlands and… unclassified oddities. This underwater fantasy is in homage to Sydney’s aquatic nature, with a playful spin sure to delight kids and adults alike.
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Let Me Down
Using the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia as a canvas, artist Claudia Nicholson pays tribute to her home country of Columbia. Three sawdust carpets known as alfombras de aserrín and a floral arrangement known as a silleta make up the display, which is an animated cycle of natural creation and destruction.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
City Sparkle 
See Sydney Harbour in its best light under this year’s City Sparkle projection. Watch on as 32 giant light beams and “sparkle points” light up Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with light beams from CBD landmarks and rooftops. You’re invited to create your own light show in the ‘control room’ with its giant, 3D interactive model of all the structures used in this display.
Cadman’s Cottage
A throwback to our childhood, PropMill is bringing back the slime this year at Cadman’s Cottage. Play in a virtual pile of slime, create giant life-sized globs of goo and even fling slime balls at one another, all without making a mess. This virtual slime filled playground is great for kids and kids at heart. 

Vivid Sydney Precincts

Darling Harbour
24 May – 15 June | 6pm – 11pm
Inspired by the next frontier, Vivid’s inclusive play space at Tumbalong beckons explorers to walk Under the Milky Way, play with SpaceBalls and even interact with an Alien Visitor. A wheelchair moon buggy lets you explore the intergalactic terrain, all in honour of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. 
For the first time, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is opening Club Millesime on the 35th floor to external guests, offering the best Vivid views of Darling Harbour. Open throughout Vivid on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a tipple before exploring the lights below.

For Vivid Sydney 2019, Darling Harbour has a space-age reboot with Light, Music and Ideas to entertain and inspire visitors of all ages and abilities.

- Vivid Sydney
The Chatswood concourse is set to light up again this Vivid festival
The Chatswood concourse is set to light up again this Vivid festival

24 May – 15 June | 5:30pm – 10:30pm
This family favourite Vivid destination comes to life with light, music and ideas. Admire top-notch talent and cutting-edge technology, catch a ticketed music shows or listen-in to world class talks about things love and relationships. 
Marri Dyin bends down to share a special moment with a young girl
Marri Dyin bends down to share a special moment with a young girl

24 May – 15 June | 6pm – 11pm
Only a short stroll from King Street Wharf and Wynyard Station, Bangaroo’s, Exchange Place is transformed into a family-friendly magical Winter Camp for Vivid Sydney. 
Meet the giant Marri Dyin, one of the largest puppets constructed in Australia who stands at 6-meters tall. Meaning ‘Great Woman’ in Sydney Aboriginal language, this contemporary spirit represents the First Nations women, including Barangaroo after whom this site is named. 

During Thursday to Sunday evening performances, (Marri Dyin) invites audiences to join in the practice of hunting and gathering before kneeling down so children can share a magical moment with her.

- Vivid Sydney
Take in the views from Luna Park’s Ferris Wheel
Take in the views from Luna Park’s Ferris Wheel

Luna Park
24 May – 15 June | 6pm – 10pm
Whether you’re after an adrenaline rush or just a great view of the harbour, Luna Park is one place you must visit this Vivid festival season. Ride the latest family thriller rides, or admire the view across the harbour from the light-laced Ferris wheel.

Taronga Zoo
24 May – 15 June Wednesday - Sunday | 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Satisfy your inner adventurer at Taronga Zoo this Vivid season. Keep your eyes peeled for an array of technicoloured creatures including a star-spangled elephant, Sumatran Tiger and iridescent Marine Turtle. A must-see for families, kids and animal lovers, Vivid at Taronga Zoo is sure to be a wild night.

Food at Vivid

Vivid Food Trucks: check out a great collection of food stalls during Vivid Sydney, near the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House and Maritime Museum.
Food Trucks at the Royal Botanic Gardens: choose from a smorgasbord of food options including hot dogs and nachos and wonderfully coloured cocktails throughout the Botanic Gardens.
Chatswood Food Stalls: food stalls are expected to pave the way from Chatswood Station to the concourse throughout the festival again this year.
There is also a whole range of bars, restaurants and cafes offering special Vivid menus and deals throughout the CBD. Brave the crowds at Opera Bar, take in the views from The Glenmore Hotel or even Hacienda Bar.
If you want to be in the middle of the action, the Museum of Contemporary Art's Cafe rooftop terrace is a great option, and Frankie’s pizza is right in the middle of town and open until 3am.
Pop into Café Thirty6 at Pullman Sydney Hyde Park before you embark on your Vivid Sydney adventure and enjoy an early dinner. Choose between two courses for $45*, or three courses for $55* including a complimentary beverage from 6-7pm. 
Mercure Sydney will light up this year for Vivid Sydney, with changing lights on the building façade. Come and see the lights while enjoying a specially crafted cocktail that lights up in the dark at Platform 818, before heading off to explore the festival. 

Fancy a tipple? Tayim has created a Vivid-inspired cocktail for you to try!
Fancy a tipple? Tayim has created a Vivid-inspired cocktail for you to try!

Visit Tayim on Harrington Street for a Vivid-inspired cocktail. The ‘Tayim Vivid’ is a delightful cocktail which infuses blue pea and cardamom with Ketel One Vodka and Licor 43. Adding a dash of lemon reveals a hidden twist that excites both the tastebuds and eyes! Available throughout the Vivid period, this tasty cocktail is only $18.  
Ibis Sydney King Street Wharf is putting on a ““choose your favourite colour cocktail adventure” called Liquid Lights throughout Vivid Festival. All cocktails are just $10 and come with a matching glow bracelet for you to take away on your Vivid escapades. 

Vivid Sydney Cruises

A great way to see Vivid Lights along the harbour is on a Vivid Sydney Cruise. There are plenty of operators running evening cruises past the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour and many more, with pitstops for you to hop off and explore the installations up close. From smaller catamarans and tall ships to larger cruise vessels, there are plenty of options offering drinks, canapes and event sit down menus. You can even book a private Sydney cruise for Vivid, giving you the best set in the house!
Rock out to some of Australia’s top artists at Vivid LIVE
Rock out to some of Australia’s top artists at Vivid LIVE

Vivid LIVE

As part of Vivid Sydney, Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House welcomes a whole bunch of ambitious and innovative local and international artists. This 23-day festival of contemporary music takes place on the nation’s most beloved stages in a celebration of artistic excellence.

This year's Vivid Live has been a genuine pleasure to program ….it's a selection of ambitious outsider artists who've spectacularly succeeded on their own rigorous terms (and) a celebration of the cultural landscape's blurring genres, subcultures and artistic practices…”

- Vivid LIVE Curator, Ben Marshall
Vivid Ideas key speakers
Get lost in debate at Vivid Ideas

Vivid Ideas

Enjoy a handpicked selection of future-facing talks, hands-on workshops and industry-shaping forums at this year’s Vivid Ideas. Spike Lee and Esther Peral challenge assumptions on race and relationships. Mark Colvin asks audiences of the inevitable price of our constant digital distraction in his talk “Mark Colvin Conversation: Net Worth”. 

Stay back a little later for Vivid Art After Hours. Join in on art activities, listen to live music and free talks or even take a mindfulness class. 


Transport & Getting There

Parking at Vivid Sydney
You can expect road closures and special event clearways throughout the city each night of Vivid. Traffic will be heavy, and parking is extremely limited, with parking restrictions in effect on most roads in the Sydney CBD and Chatswood, so it is recommended that you leave your car at home and make use of the extended public transport offering over the course of the festival.  

Vivid Sydney Road Closures and Traffic Restrictions 
There will be road closures in place each night throughout the course of the festival, including:
Circular Quay: weeknights and weekends 
Sydney CBD: weekends 
Chatswood: Thursday, Friday & Saturdays as well as the long weekend Sunday
Catching public transport is strongly encouraged as delays are expected, particularly on the weekends. For further information on road closures, clearways and access restrictions, read more here vividsydney.com/transport

Public Transport Options to Vivid Sydney 
Extra trains and buses will be provided across the weekends to and from Vivid Sydney precincts. 
Use the transportnsw.info Trip Planner to map out your journey to and from Vivid Sydney, with up-to-date train, bus, ferry and light rail information. Be sure to either top up your Opal Card or buy a ticket to travel on all public transport services.


2019 Vivid dates?
Vivid Sydney 2019 runs for 23 consecutive days between 24th May – 15th June 

When does Vivid start and when does Vivid end?
Vivid Lights begins at 6pm, and concludes at 11pm; however, some precincts have an earlier start and finish time. 

Where is Vivid Sydney held?
Vivid Sydney has installations and activations across many locations throughout the city including:
Luna Park Sydney
The Rocks and Circular Quay
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney 
Darling Harbour
Taronga Zoo

Will Vivid Sydney be cancelled if it rains?
Vivid Sydney operates rain, hail or shine with some restrictions if there are extreme adverse weather conditions.

How do I buy tickets to Vivid Sydney?
Vivid Lights including the Vivid Light Walk is free; however, you can purchase tickets for events with Vivid Music, Vivid Ideas, and to Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo through the Vivid Sydney website. 

When should I attend Vivid Sydney to avoid the crowds?
Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights - as well as evenings during the long weekend are the busiest, so we recommend attending another time during the week to avoid the largest crowds. 

Where to stay during Vivid Sydney?
Sydney has a great range of accommodation options for all budgets. If you are looking to get close to the action in the city, then The Rocks, Circular Quay, Sydney CBD, Darling Harbour, Chatswood or North Sydney are great choices.

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