Where to Eat, Play and Stay during Vivid Sydney06 Nov 2023
Step into our world of world-class art, entertainment, dining and one-of-a-kind experiences as Vivid Sydney shines a light on the city.
Our Light, Music, Ideas and Food programs present a multi-sensory feast with dreamers and innovators, an all-star musical line-up and unforgettable culinary experiences.
Start planning your adventure now with our insider's guide of where to eat, stay and play during Vivid Sydney.
Feed Your Soul: Where to eat
Sydney's dining and bar scene is as vibrant as the festival's lights. Get inspired with these local favourites.
For top-notch sustainable and local seafood, look no further than Love.Fish, with its excellent Australian wine list and outdoor seating along the wharf. Dine on dumplings at Lotus Dining, a waterfront modern Chinese eatery and an excellent option for larger groups. If you're dining with kids, head straight to Zushi,it has an extensive kid’s menu, including a customisable bento box.
Central Station and The Goods Line
The Rover is a sophisticated cocktail bar in Surry Hills with an upmarket British tavern feel and a focus on oysters, whisky and biodynamic wine. For something on the other end of the scale just around the corner, Butter offers a delicious combo of fried chicken, Champagne and hip-hop. For a quick, inexpensive plate of noodles (or try the famous braised eggplant), Chinese Noodle House in nearby Haymarket is a winner.
Gateway Sydney is a good place to start a culinary adventure in Circular Quay – it's a vibrant food-court with more than 30 casual-style eateries covering all types of cuisine. Across the road Hinchcliff House offers an array of dining experiences across four venues inside a heritage wool store. Mary's Underground offers its famous burgers as well as diner fare late into the night, perfect for a post-Light Walk feast. There's also Hickson House, once the site of warehouse parties, it's now a lively craft spirit distillery, that offers tours. For dinner under the Sydney Opera House sails, it's hard to imagine a more iconic spot than Opera Bar – and where better to watch the Vivid Sydney lights over the Harbour?
Step back in time over a G&T inside Frank Mac's, with its 1840s sandstone walls and charming table service. Bring your kids to Pancakes on The Rocks for an Americana take on the classic pancake, it’s also open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays for the night owls. For something special, Bay Nine is a Japanese omakase restaurant, with a daily changing menu of 11 courses served by an acclaimed chef.
Darling Harbour and Darling Quarter
Fratelli Fresh is a great family-friendly option offering fresh and fast pizza and pasta. If you're after a date-night option, Atelier by Sofitel is an elegant space with an expansive wine list and beautiful local seafood. Darling Square is a buzzing precinct know for its range of Asian cuisines including dumplings, noodles, bubble tea and desserts.
Offering four venues in one, Shell House is all about Art Deco decadence. A luxe place to celebrate your Vivid Sydney night out, try finishing your evening with a drink at their rooftop bar. South-East Asian flavours come to party at MuMu in the always-pumping Ivy precinct, though for a smorgasbord of affordable eating, choose from Vietnamese, Egyptian, sushi, dumplings and more at the Westfield Sydney food court.
Show stoppers: Where to play
Sydney is overflowing with theatres, galleries, museums and performance spaces. From Broadway musicals to prehistoric exhibitions, here’s where to spend the day before the lights turn on.
On the stage
Catch a world-class musical at one of Sydney’s amazing theatres; Sydney Lyric Theatre, Capitol Theatre or the Theatre Royal Sydney. Or visit the Sydney Opera House and watch a breath-taking opera or contemporary theatre production – with a huge program that spans multiple stages and spaces there's something for everyone under its iconic sails.
In the exhibition halls
Visit some of the most diverse collections in Australia at the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, with an ever-changing program of exhibitions that intersect art, design, science and technology. Or take in the latest modern art and ideas from Australian and international artists, alongside unrivalled harbour views, at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
If your family loves all things prehistoric, visit the Australian Museum. Here you'll explore the giant fossilised skeletons and life-size casts of Australian dinosaurs, as well as the infamous Stegosaurus and T.Rex. Plus, learn about unique native flora and fauna, changing science, and wander through other cultural exhibitions.
On the Harbour
Watch the morning sun illuminate the skyline on a Sydney Harbour Sunriser kayak safari with Sydney Harbour Kayaks. Slow things down with a pedal past secret coves and over the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge with Sydney Harbour Bike Tours, or rise for a bird's-eye view of beautiful Sydney on a flight with Sydney Seaplanes.
For more insight into Sydney's colonial past and a taste of local beers in some of The Rocks historic pubs, head off on one of Dave’s Pub Tours. The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour, by Dreamtime Southern X, will show you another side of Sydney's history – that of the Gadigal people, and how their culture originated from the land.
As the sun sets, be mesmerised by Vivid Sydney's lights reflecting across the water with a 60-minute evening cruise of the harbour with Fantasea, or see brilliance from above as you scale to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in time to watch Vivid Sydney burst into life at 6pm. On the ground, learn how to capture the beautiful Vivid Sydney light on a Vivid Photography Walking Tour with Picture Me Sydney.
Vivid Dreams: where to stay
A comfortable place to put up your feet after a night exploring is essential during Vivid Sydney, and the city has a room for everyone.
Located in the heart of the CBD, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth has reopened its doors after a stunning refurbishment to offer five-star luxury in the city, while Kimpton Margot Sydney fuses Art Deco ambience with modern luxe, including a glamorous rooftop bar and pool. Crown Sydney is a prime spot to access Vivid Sydney locations Barangaroo and Darling Harbour, and for twinkling harbour panoramas and full views of the Vivid Sydney lights, waterfront Park Hyatt Sydney or Shangri-La Sydney at The Rocks can't be beaten.
There are plenty of accommodation options that meet all the requirements of travelling with little ones. The waterfront Novotel Sydney Darling Harbour is a great base base to explore Vivid Sydney from, as well as being conveniently located to many family-friendly food options. Rydges Sydney Central is sleek, modern and right near Central Station. Alternatively, head across the bridge and settle in for a slumber party with the animals at Taronga Zoo – wildlife safari tents look out on the illuminated Sydney Harbour.
After you've sparked your creativity exploring the festival, rest your inspired head at one of Sydney's many designer boutique hotels. Close by the beginning of the Light Walk at Central Station, Ace Hotel Sydney brings the Palm Springs brand's artistic flair to the harbour city. Paramount House Hotel offers 29 unique Japanese-styled rooms, or take a dip in The Old Clare Hotel's luxurious rooftop pool while staying in this Mid-Century-style hotel. If waterfront is what you seek, check into one of Hotel Palisade's eight guestrooms at Walsh Bay, or get even closer to the water at Pier One Sydney.
Your guide to Sydney & NSW
Welcome to Sydney! With new experiences around every corner, Sydney.com is the official tourism, destinations and events website and is always hand to guide you through this surprising city. You can also get all the insider news, tips and inspiration you need to plan your next trip, delivered straight to your inbox by subscribing to Somewhere New.