A First-Timer’s Guide to Vivid Sydney

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Vivid Sydney

From 26 May to 17 June, the city of Sydney will welcome an exciting range of light installations, music events and ideas conferences. Now in its ninth year, Vivid Sydney has become the largest event of its kind in the world. If you’re unsure of where to start, check out our first-timer's guide to Vivid Sydney and get ready for this year’s festival!

Vivid Sydney 2017 Precincts

The Sydney Opera House will host a number of exciting events, among them the head-turning Lighting of the Sails: Audio Creatures, which will transform the landmark into a multicoloured canvas for each night of Vivid Sydney. See the Magicians Of The Mist at Darling Harbour, a stunning show which promises to wow crowds with fireworks, lasers, massive light projections and 50 metres high water fountains. Across the harbour, Taronga Zoo will pull out all the stops for Lights for the Wild, an impressive showcase of animal light sculptures with an important message about conservation.

In 2017, The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney has expanded to create a beautiful journey during Vivid Sydney. Home to 13 light installations, including Birds of Lumos and inSIGHT, the gardens are a great place to see some of the festival’s best light installations. Kings Cross will host an array of late-night music events and ideas events curated especially for Vivid Sydney, while further north, Chatswood Interchange will be transformed into a futuristic Steampunk Waterworld.

Visit The Rocks to see and enjoy over 25 light installations and more than 50 events and conferences from the Vivid Sydney Ideas program. Ponder the intriguing sights and sounds of AXIOM, create your own colours and melodies at MUSIC | box, or head to nearby Campbell’s Cove for even more fantastic light installations. In the CBD, Martin Place will light up with a number of beautiful displays, including the incredible Urban Tree 2.0.

The newest precinct to be added to the festival, Barangaroo (South) is set to impress with its optical illusions and waterfront location. On Sydney Harbour, cruise ships and vessels will also become part of the artwork during the Harbour Lights show. There are many Vivid Sydney Light, Music and Ideas events taking place in a wide range of venues across Sydney City and Surrounds. Visit vividsydney.com for more details.

Where To Set Up Your Camera

Grab your tripod and get ready to snap some amazing photos during this year’s Vivid Sydney festival. Visit the Canon HQ at the MCA Foundation Hall to learn about taking photos in low light conditions and for awesome shots of the entire city, find a high vantage point. Try the Overseas Passenger Terminal, or pick a spot along the Sydney Harbour Bridge for panoramic views. Alternatively, head right to the water’s edge and shoot from a low angle; this will enhance your photographs with all the beautiful colours reflecting off the water. The SYDNEYLAND installation at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is the perfect place to get an enviable Instagram shot. Don’t forget to use the #vividsydney hashtag to share your photos!

Where To See The Best Live Acts

For cutting-edge acts, check out the program of Vivid Live events happening at the Sydney Opera House. Critically acclaimed international acts like AIR, Sampha, Fleet Foxes and Laura Marling will all play massive shows alongside Australian favourites The Avalanches, Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker and The Necks.

Darling Harbour will also play host to some after-dark parties including the Heaps Gay presents Heaps High at Eye Live Project and the interactive UV-light extravaganza Colourblast Full Moon Party. For more late-night music events, visit Kings Cross for a variety of Basement Parties and live acts. Keep in mind a wide variety of music acts across a range of venues across Sydney including Carriageworks, City Recital Hall, Leadbelly Newtown and The Soda Factory.

Where To Get Inspired

Vivid Sydney is also a place for creative minds to share ideas. This year, there’ll be a wide range of conferences discussing everything from the future of the planet to ethical criticism. Head to The Rocks and visit the Vivid Ideas Exchange, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia to share ideas and listen to an impressive selection of expert speakers. Kings Cross will also host a variety of Cult Sinema Australiana screenings and Kings Bloody Cross exhibitions, while the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Darling Harbour will host a sparc-FMA Gala Dinner among other important conference events.

Tips and Tricks

Get in early: Vivid Sydney will be on every evening for three weeks until 17 June, so take your time navigating the awe-inspiring displays. Visit early in the evening and early in the week for the best views of the festival.

Check travel arrangements: Use public transport to avoid road closures, congestion and long waits for parking spaces. The main train stations for this year’s Vivid Sydney precincts are Central, Wynyard, Martin Place, Circular Quay (no stops during event), Town Hall and Chatswood.

Keep children close: Vivid Sydney attracts massive crowds, so keep an eye on your little ones at all times. ID wristbands are available at Vivid Sydney Information Booths in case your child becomes lost.

Stay ahead of the crowds: Keep on top of your itinerary and stay up to date with the latest information with the Vivid Sydney app. Visit the Vivid Sydney website at vividsydney.com or download the app before you head out.