Where to Eat, Play and Stay during Vivid Sydney
Where to Eat, Play and Stay during Vivid Sydney15 Feb 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 from May 26 to June 17, in its biggest year yet.
This year, our free Light Walk is a massive 8.5km adventure with 60 light attractions including Dark Spectrum, a completely new experience opening up Wynyard Station's secret tunnels to the public for the very first time.
And that's far from all! Our Music, Ideas and inaugural Food programs are filled with international heavy-hitters and local innovators, from powerhouse Hollywood duo Mike White and Jennifer Coolidge to a touching all-star tribute night to Archie Roach AC, plus one-off culinary experiences like our Vivid Sydney Dinner, a multi-sensory feast of Light, Music, Ideas and Food, with a menu from Danielle Alvarez and Ben Greeno.
Be sure to explore the full program, and start planning your adventure now with our insider guide of where to eat, stay and play during Vivid Sydney.
Feed Your Soul
Sydney's dining and bar scene is as vibrant as the festival's lights. Get inspired with these local favourites near (or inside) each Vivid Sydney location.
For top-notch sustainable seafood, look no further than Cirrus. Try the delightful dumplings at Lotus Dining, a waterfront modern Chinese eatery and an excellent option for big groups. And if you're dining with kids, head straight to Zushi, which has an extensive kid’s menu, including a customisable bento box.
Head over to the nearby South Eveleigh, a recently revitalised dining precinct in converted railway sheds. Grab a quick bite at North Sandwich & Burger; sit down for a hearty bowl of Pho from Eat Fuh, or slurp down ramen at RaRa Chan, the little sister of Redfern’s Rara Ramen that only serves tsukemen, aka 'dipping' ramen. Also be sure to grab a drink at Re, a revolutionary no-waste bar solving food waste with innovative cocktails.
Central Station and The Goods Line
The Rover is a sophisticated cocktail bar with an upmarket British tavern feel and a focus on oysters, whisky, and organic and biodynamic wine. For something a little different, Butter offers a quirky 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 vibrant precinct with more than 30 casual eateries covering all types of cuisine. Or Hinchcliff House serves upper-crust comfort food inside a heritage wool store. Mary's Underground offers lobster and steak frites into the late night, perfect for a post Light Walk feast. And once the site of warehouse parties, Hickson House is now a lively craft spirit distillery, and 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 for a G&T inside Frank Mac's, with 1840s sandstone walls and charming table service. Take your kids to Pancakes on The Rocks for an Americana take on the classic pancake, open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. For something special, Bay Nine is an omakase Japanese restaurant, with a daily changing menu of 11 courses served by an acclaimed chef.
Darling Harbour and Darling Quarter
Fratelli Fresh offers fresh and fast family-friendly pizza and pasta – what's not to love? If you are 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 for Asian deliciousness: dumplings, noodles, bubble tea and dessert.
Offering four venues in one, Shell House is all about Art Deco decadence, a luxe place to celebrate your Vivid Sydney night out – finish your evening with a drink at their rooftop bar. South-East Asian flavours come to party at MuMu in the always-pumping Ivy precinct. For a smorgasbord of affordable eating, choose from Vietnamese, Egyptian, sushi, dumplings and more at the Westfield Sydney food court.
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. Here are a few ideas:
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, with 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 or Shangri-La at The Rocks can't be beat.
There's plenty of accommodation options that have what you need if travelling with little ones. The Novotel Sydney Darling Harbour makes the perfect base to explore Vivid Sydney along the waterfront, as well as being conveniently located to many family-friendly food options. Rydges Sydney Central is sleek, modern and right near Central Station. Head across the bridge and settle in for a slumber party with the animals at Taronga Zoo – their 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-driven boutique hotels, right next to 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 rooms; or take a dip in The Old Clare Hotel's luxurious rooftop pool. If waterfront is what you seek, check into one of Hotel Palisade's eight guestrooms (some featuring Bridge views) or get even closer to the icon at Pier One Sydney.
Catch a world-class musical such as Mamma Mia! at the Sydney Lyric Theatre or Tina - The Tina Turner Musical at Theatre Royal Sydney, or submit yourself to the passions of Italian opera Rigoletto at the Sydney Opera House.
Take in Carla Zampatti's designs in Zampatti Powerhouse (until June 11), the first retrospective of the revered Australian designer, then soak in the vibrant creativity of Sydney's leading LGBTIQ+ community with Absolutely Queer, both at Powerhouse Ultimo. Stand face to face with portraits of Australia’s vanguards and unsung heroes at the Archibald Prize 2023 at Art Gallery of NSW, or step into The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s kaleidoscope of colour with Love Your Nature!, featuring 20,000+ plants across one of the largest living green walls in the Southern Hemisphere, before heading to Lightscape.
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 up 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 Southern X, will show you another side of Sydney's history – 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 lights with a Vivid Photography Walking Tour with Picture Me Sydney.