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Ultimate Guide to Vivid Sydney

Bursting with creativity, Vivid Sydney comes to life in 2022

The largest festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere, Vivid Sydney is an incredible festival of lights, music, and ideas. 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
Ephemeral
Ephemeral - Image via Vivid Sydney and Destination NSW

Vivid Sydney, brings together light artists, music makers, and creative minds to share their ideas. 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 Royal Botanic gardens, enjoy live performances at the Sydney Opera House, or see it all from a Vivid Bridge Climb there is something for everyone at Vivid Sydney.

Vivid Light

The star attraction of Vivid Sydney is the Vivid Sydney Light Walk where Sydney’s top landmarks and skyline become illuminated in creative and interactive light installaions. 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.

The Sydney Opera House, lit up for VIVID Sydney
The Sydney Opera House in 2021 was decorated with the art piece Yarrkalpa - Hunting Ground by the Martu Artists and Curiious. Image credit: Destination NSW and Vivid Sydney.

Lighting of the Sails

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 to start the Sydney light festival each evening. Each year, an internationally renowned artist is commissioned to create an original artwork for the sails.

This year, the sails are accompanied by First Light, an installation that acknowledges and celebrates Australia’s First Nation’s cultures. The Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons will be illuminated from 5:40pm until lights on (when the rest of VIVID joins in) at 6pm.

Get up close to installations at Vivid Sydney Light Walk.

Get up close to installations at Vivid Light Walk
The Ballerina light installation illuminating Campbells Cove in The Rocks precinct during Vivid Sydney 2019. Image credit: Destination NSW

Vivid Sydney Light Walk

Vivid’s famous Light Walk showcases 50 of the best outdoor light installations stretching over 8 kilometres. Taking you past the city’s biggest light installations in the central business district (CBD), on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), and Customs House, Vivid Sydney Light Walk makes sure you catch a glimpse of all the draw cards.
More of a ‘choose your own adventure’ rather than a prescribed trail, Vivid Sydney 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.
Nature, childhood daydreams and retro-futurism are the major themes running through Vivid Sydney this year. From those on a monstrous scale to others which beckon creativity, asking visitors to move through, around and under – this year’s Vivid Sydney Light Walk showcases a whole range of installations.
Customs House becomes a colourful canvas for artists to project their light-based art.
For Sydney with Love, a major installation at Vivid Sydney 2022
Sydney's landmarks take on a new guise during Vivid, like Customs House becoming a canvas for Ken Done. Image via Vivid Sydney and Destination NSW

Some of this Year’s Installations

Several of the city’s landmarks participate in the phenomenal Vivid Sydney light show. 

For Sydney with Love
Customs House
Projected onto the façade of Customs House is a love story that spans 80 years. The love story of artist Ken Done and Sydney. The city’s chronicler expresses his fondness for his muse, with is iconic bursts of colour and organic shapes. In this vibrant animation, Done shows us how Sydney has informed all of his art. He invites us to see the city from his perspective, sharing joy and optimism through colour and imagination.
Ninget Universe
Circular Quay and The Rocks
Step into a world inhabited by fantastical creatures inspired by an 11-year-old boy growing up in our fantastic city. Artist Luca’s colourful creativity celebrates all walks of life. An environmentalist and animal lover, he was instantly inspired by the shapes that make up Sydney, and the creatures that might live alongside us.
Resonance
Darling Harbour
In the middle of a bustling city, artists from the Studio John Fish have decided to create a place for collective mindfulness. A geometric array of convex mirrors hang suspended beneath the freeway overpass, inviting guests to walk under them and reflect with a new perspective. You’ll see yourself and your surroundings reflected in near-infinite dimensions. Meanwhile, this sculpture above you reverberates the sound of an original composition, enveloping you in a dynamic, sensory space.
Night Whisper is one of the enchanting installations at Vivid Sydney 2022
Discover new wonders as you stroll through Sydney during Vivid. Night Whisper (pictured) can be found at Circular Quay. Image via Vivid Sydney and Destination NSW

Vivid Sydney Precincts

All throughout the Sydney light festival, you can find explosions of light and colour. The key precincts of Vivid Sydney are Circular Quay, The Rocks, Barangaroo, and Darling Harbour. Fortunately, the precincts aren’t too far apart and getting around the Sydney city is simple. Plenty of people even participate in walking photography tours through Sydney at night during Vivid.
Vivid Sydney food and drink specials at Pumphouse Sydney
Vivid Sydney food and drink specials at Pumphouse Sydney

Food at Vivid Sydney

For visitors to Sydney looking to enjoy fine local food and wine, there are many 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 Hacienda Bar for those Sydney nightlife vibes and incredible views of iconic illuminated Sydney buildings.
Take a wander down to Pumphouse Sydney in the heart of Darling Square and you won't be disappointed. Think Vivid Sydney themed food and beverages, including the prettiest waffles you've ever seen, paired with poached rhubarb, vanilla custard and lemon curd ice cream. If you're looking for colourful cocktails, you can choose from 3 vibrant specials. Our pick? The neon-green Electric Boogaloo to add some serious zing to your night!       
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. Don't miss Tayim Restaurant and Bar 2 for 1 Cocktail Happy Hour every Tuesday to Saturday during Vivid (27 May–18 June 2022) and Rainbow Bagels at Creperie Suzette in the heart of The Rocks.

Vivid Sydney Cruises

A great way to see the Vivid Sydney Light Walk 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 several options when it comes to enjoying the lights from the water.
Rock out to some of Australia’s top artists at Vivid LIVE
Curated by Fuzzy Events, the team behind Field Day, Harbourlife and Listen Out, Curve Ball returns to Carriageworks for Vivid Sydney 2018. Image credit: Destination NSW and Vivid Sydney

Vivid LIVE

As part of Vivid Sydney, Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House welcomes 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, Vivid LIVE features performances from Sampa the Great, Paul Kelly and his band, Tkay Maidza, Low Life, Miiesha, and plenty more.

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
Get lost in debate at Vivid Ideas
Get lost in debate at Vivid Ideas. Image credit: Vivid Sydney & Destination NSW

Vivid Ideas

Enjoy a handpicked selection of future-facing talks, hands-on workshops and industry-shaping forums at this year’s Vivid Ideas.
Listen to Troye Sivan speak on beauty, art, creativity, and queer politics in a live, intimate conversation with journalist Patrick Abboud. Be inspired by Nivole Velik’s workshop, “Unlock your creative genius” as she breaks down the idea that some of us are born creative and others not. Visit Tech Central and join the discussion as experts explore their aspirations for the future.
Vivid Ideas has an impressive line-up, it’s worth exploring all the events to find the ones that call out to you.

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 city of Sydney, 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.

FAQs

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. Most of the events take place at night in Sydney so that the bright lights shine in contrast to the evening and night sky.
Where is Vivid Sydney held?
The Vivid Sydney festival has installations and activations across many locations throughout the city including:
Barangaroo
Central Station
Circular Quay and The Rocks
Darling Harbour
Darling Quarter
Luna Park
Sydney CBD
Taronga Zoo
Walsh Bay
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.
When should I attend Vivid Sydney to avoid the crowds?
The busiest times at Vivid are on weekends. Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night are when most people visit the city to take in the lights. If you can, visit during the week to take advantage of the smaller mid-week attendance rates.
The exterior of Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
The lit exterior of Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, perfectly located on the foreshore of Darling Harbour.

Where to stay during Vivid Sydney 2022?

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 or North Sydney are great choices. 
If you're looking for a Vivid package with a little extra sparkle, there are some great accommodation options dotted around Sydney CBD. Perhaps the Immersion package at Mercure Sydney, where guests can choose to illuminate their room in their fav colour choice, plus buffet breakfast and late check out the following day to ensure you're well rested following your night of fun. 
Check out additional Vivid Sydney accommodation packages at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, Pullman Sydney Hyde Park and Novotel Sydney Central.  
Visit ALL.com to find a great selection of Sydney accommodation to suit your needs.

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