A First-Timer’s Guide To Vivid Sydney

Submitted by Vivid Sydney

22 Mar 2024
Sydney Harbour during Vivid Sydney 2023 Drone Show

Every year Vivid Sydney, the Southern Hemisphere's leading multi-artform festival, transforms Sydney into a vibrant hub of creativity, innovation and community connection.  

Over 23 nights, light installations, music, ideas and food inspire global audiences and encourage cultural exchange across the harbour city. This year the festival theme of ‘Humanity’ will spark connection, wonder and reflection.  

If you haven’t visited Vivid Sydney before (or need a refresher), read on. Discover the best vantage points to see the Light Walk, how to score the best tickets and where to savour the most delicious food and drinks. Find everything you need to know below.  

Sydney lights up at 6pm every night 

Lights On happens each night at 6pm. This is when the festival light installations and projections spring to life across the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and across the CBD and surrounding precincts.  

The Vivid Sydney Light Walk 

The Vivid Sydney Light Walk is an 8km stretch dotted with all the festival’s Light installations and projections. It runs from Circular Quay, around The Rocks, through Walsh Bay, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour and Tumbalong Park, all the way to The Goods Line. 

The total walk is about 8 km, so wear some comfortable shoes and make sure you pack your camera – or make space on your phone to capture some stunning shots. Read our photography tips from Australia’s leading landscape photographer Daniel Tran so you can take some pictures that really stand out. 

Top tip: take your time to explore the Light Walk over 2-3 nights! 

Lightscape
Lightscape 2024

Vivid Sydney is so much more than a light festival 

Let music move you 

The Vivid Music program offers a diverse range of exclusive concerts, free gigs and a late-night Supper Club. There’s something to get everyone moving. 

Vivid Sydney hosts a whole range of free live music events for all ages and tastes at Tumbalong Nights at the Tumbalong Park Stage at Darling Harbour. Here, catch a diverse range of acts like Budjerah, Mallrat, grentperez, 3%, Club Broadway and Vivid Kids at Tumbalong. Plus, you can also step into nearby immersive installation Neolithic.  

The Vivid LIVE program at The Sydney Opera House and Carriageworks program are a great place to start if you’re looking for global and local music icons. With multiple stages, there is always someone incredible to see, plus you when taking in a Vivid LIVE show you can also enjoy the stunning projections on the Sydney Opera House sails. 

This year, Vivid Sydney takes up residence in a new home for cutting-edge music at the Machine Hall Precinct. This reimagined 100-year-old substation will come alive with the best boundary-pushing music, from around the world and around the corner like Deerhoof, Jen Cohler and Ngulmiya

Plus, every Thursday and Friday of the festival, Mary’s Underground is transformed into Vivid Sydney Supper Club. A hub of late-night cabaret, curators Rhys Nicholson and Georgia Mooney have a jam-packed program of comedy, music and left-of-field variety nights up their sleeve.  

Supper Club Don't Thank me Spank Me
Vivid Sydney Supper Club: Tanzer + Don't Thank Me Spank Me + Michael Hing 2024

Leave with a fresh perspective 

Vivid Sydney’s Ideas program is a forum for inspiration. An opportunity to challenge and reshape how we think about the world and our place in it.  

Beyond just talks, we grapple with this year’s theme of humanity through live performances, panel discussions, walking tours, immersive dance pieces and other thought-provoking experiences. Spark your empathy, intellect and imagination with program highlights like Shifting Perspectives, A THOUSAND WAYS: An Encounter, Golden Age of Humanity, Window Dressing and After The Fact.  

Come and change your mind, learn something new and feel and feel more connected to one another.  

Shifting Perspectives
Shifting Perspectives 2024

Hungry for more  

Vivid Food offers a smorgasbord of dining options. From high-end dining with spectacular views, to the best of the world’s flame-cooked street food at Fire Kitchen, there’s something for all tastes and budgets. Plus, this year you can dine and make a difference with Plates with Purpose – A Taste of Ukraine and Our Shared Humanity

This year Sydney Place and Bulletin Place laneways in the CBD will be transformed into a pedestrianised night market for Vivid Sydney. Head to VividPlace Food Trail for the best of the globe, open late. 

In addition to the culinary delights the Vivid Food program has to offer, Sydney is packed with incredible bars and restaurants for quick bites or a full degustation. The city gets very busy during Vivid Sydney, so we recommend making a reservation of you’re planning a sit-down dinner. 

Vivid Food Trail
Vivid Food Trail 2024

Getting here and home again 

Our advice is: leave the car at home. There is limited parking and several road closures in the CBD, so opt for public transport instead. You can take the train or bus to Wynyard, Town Hall, or Martin Place to be close to the action, or catch a ferry into Circular Quay. It’s a great way to see the lights from the water! 

There are also accessibility facilities and services available to Vivid Sydney visitors who need them, such as accessible drop-off and pick-up points, and bookable accessible mini-buses. 

Visitors taking photos from Sydney Ferry of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Vivid Sydney is for the whole family 

Vivid Sydney is for everyone – including the little ones! If you’re visiting with children, we recommend getting here early to beat the crowds, and consider visiting earlier in the week as the Light Walk can get very busy on the weekends. 

There are also free ID wristbands available at Vivid Sydney Information Booths, which are helpful should your child get lost. You can also download a printable map of Vivid Sydney to keep to hand so you can find your closest information point or plan a meetings point should your group get split up. 

Children enjoying Vivid Kids at Tumbalong Park
Vivid Kids @ Tumbalong, 2022

Stay up to date 

Make sure you’re the first to know about events, tickets and all things Vivid Sydney by signing up to MyVivid. You can even let us know your preferences, so you hear about the events we think you’ll love. 

 

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