It’s time to call your friends, gather the kids and make your plans, with just one week to go until VividSydney bathes the city in a glorious cavalcade of colour as it kicks off its 10th anniversary celebrations on Friday, 25 May.
The world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas will transform Sydney into a colourful showcase of illuminations, sensational sounds and creative thinking for 23 days and nights from 25 May to 16 June.
See below our round up of the best attractions and events to get involved with!
For 23 days in May and June Taronga Zoo will be alive with intoxicating sights and sounds – some bizarre, all fantastical. Vivid Sydney returns to Taronga with a wealth of stunning new installations – all inspired by the zoo’s commitment to endangered species in Australia and Sumatra.
The brilliantly lit sculptures – all powered by the latest LED technology – will captivate visitors of all ages, but will prove irresistible to young children. Imagine seeing a giant nine-metre long goanna loom out of the dark or standing beneath a massive manta ray as it sails through the trees.
As visitors wander through Taronga’s iconic harbourfront location they will encounter giant bees, multi-coloured elephants, lions and tigers, sinister red-back spiders, leafy sea dragons and other magical creatures. Children’s voices and the tinkle of soothing music acts as an ambient backdrop.
One of the standout attractions is an enormous echidna with a moving tongue – bound to intrigue the younger visitors to Taronga. You’ll also have the chance to take a Vivid‘Gorillagram’ featuring three giant-sized illuminated gorillas.
- 19 brand new and 3 revamped installations for a bigger, brighter, bolder Lights for the Wild experience.
- Giant multimedia animal light sculptures, with festival favourites including the majestic Sumatran Tiger and giant Bilby, joined by new additions, from an epic Goanna to a school of Blue Devil Fish.
- Guests step through a marine world and emerge from the mouth of a giant Port Jackson Shark as it splashes two stories high through the façade of Taronga’s heritage entrance.
- Visitors meet fierce, friendly and quirky creatures on a journey along an illuminated trail through fragile habitats: the ocean, Sumatran jungle and Australian bush.
- The area around the piazza brims with sea life. Newcomer, a Weedy Sea Dragon joins the giant and baby Sea Turtles, while a Stingray and fish make the piazza’s Morton Bay Fig home for the festival.
- A massive Goanna joins a cast of Australian animals brought to life as colourful larger-than-life light creations, including a Funnel Web Spider, giant Red Back Spiders, Echidnas and Platypus.
- Taronga Centenary Theatre presents a multi-award winning animated projection in a 270° cinematic experience.
- Lanterns with designs inspired by school children create a canopy of Milky Way stars and a glowing planet earth above the Taronga Food Market.
- Visitors can show their support to conservation of fragile ecosystems with a glowing yellow ribbon at Ties for the Wild. For every ribbon tied, American Express will make a donation to Taronga’s wildlife conservation.
- All ticket proceeds go directly back to support Taronga’s work in conservation and wildlife care.
Session start times: 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 7.30pm (approx. 2 hour experience)
Last entry at 8.30pm, Zoo closes at 9.30pm.
Tickets: Pre-purchase tickets at taronga.org.au/vivid
From 25 May to 16 June, rise above the hustle and bustle and experience the stunning city lights during VIVID Sydney from Sydney’s highest point, the Sydney Tower Eye.
Perched 250 metres above the streets below, the Observation Deck of the iconic Sydney landmark will transform into a colourful light spectacular with activities suitable for kids of all ages.
The colourful celebrations include an interactive dance floor and glow-in-the-dark face painting held every Saturday. Kids can show off their best dancing moves while parents sit back, relax with a coffee and soak up the 360 degree views of the stunning Sydney skyline.
At 6pm, daily VIVID SKYWALK tours will provide guests with the chance to admire the lights from above, avoiding the crowds below.
So, what’s on at the Sydney Tower Eye from 25 May to 16 June?
- Daily interactive dance floor on the Observation Deck from 9am
- Glow-in-the-dark face painting every Saturday from 5-7pm
- VIVID SKYWALK tours everyday from 6pm (only available for kids aged 8 and up)
With panoramic views of the city, Circular Quay, Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Cruise Bar is a must for those planning a night out at Vivid. A great pitt stop for those looking to dine or grab a drink with a view on the night, Cruise Bar has a great offering to suit everyone! On Cruise Bar’s popular ground level eatery, diners will find a delicious Mediterranean-inspired including prosciutto-warped rainbow trout, Moroccan duck salad and shredded bbq beef sliders with a jalapeño slaw. It’s also a great option also for families as there is a kids menu available as well!
For something a little more adventurous, festival goers can indulge in Junk Lounge’s Asian inspired menu on level 2. Head Chef Patrick Haney has crafted a delicious range of unique hawker-style dishes – think dumplings, miso eggplant skewers and shaved pork steamed buns! Each dish is also perfectly paired with Junk Lounge’s unique, spice-infused cocktails.
On Thursday 14th June The Ternary, Darling Harbour invites you to indulge in a 5-course degustation menu in their restaurant lit only by candles and with views of the Sydney City Skyline lit by the lights of Vivid. The exceptional dining experience will feature the best of The Ternary with vegetarian options available, and entertainment provided for the evening by a live musician, for just $89 per person.
The Ternary’s mixology team has also created a cocktail to celebrate the occasion, available from the bar throughout May and June, ‘El-Fuego’ (19) a fiery & fruity concoction garnished with a dehydrated lime wheel set alight with Absinthe.
Harbourside on Darling Harbour is offering special $30 menus to watch the amazing Cockle Bay light show and fireworks over the festival. There’s an authentic Indian feast with wine at fine-dining restaurant Zaaffran, cheese boards and wine from The Port, and a full Chinese line-up with duck sang choy bow, kung Pao chicken and other classics at Dragon Boat, along with special menus from Kazbah and dessert for two by Cyren.
Harbourside will also be giving out free glow sticks to punters and have its own light installation on display – a seven-meter mirror chandelier, with 200 spiral hung mirrors, that will reflect and refract colour into the surrounding space.
Endeavour Tap Rooms has announced an All of the Lights cocktail, details below, and an incredible Rainbow Cheesecake with a Tim Tam crumble available over the festival. Images attached.
All of the Lights, $18 starring Vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, pineapple juice, Fruits of the Forest jam and cherry bitters. Rainbow Cheesecake, $12. A decadent Rainbow cheesecake with chocolate Tim Tam crumble, blueberry coulis & vanilla syrup.
Front and centre on Sydney Harbour, Sails on Lavender Bay is the dining destination for VIVID Sydney’s 10th Anniversary. From 25 May – 16 June Sails on Lavender Bay will offer views of the Harbour Bridge lit up in full glory, and make a spectacular location to take in 32 Hundred Lighting’s synchronised lighting display, creating a colour spectrum across the harbour.
Opt for Sails a la carte menu, created with an emphasis on classic French techniques, or settle in for the light spectacular with a seven course degustation menu. The restaurant’s award winning wine list make the perfect excuse to make a toast too, with an extensive and affordable selection, including 18 wines available by the glass.
Executive Chef Joshua Davidson has created a special set menu which will be exclusively available during Vivid 2018. Injecting colour into the menu, it will be available alongside the normal a la carte menu.
$79 per head for 3 courses.
$109 per head for 3 courses + matching wines.
Entrée: Stracciatella, grilled bell peppers, marinated white anchovy, currants & nasturtium
Pinot Gris, Domaine Schlumberger – Alsace, France
Main: Pepper crusted lamb rump, spiced eggplant, fennel, turnips & salsa verde
Shiraz, Tar & Roses – Heathcote, Victoria
Dessert: Merinque, wattleseed cream, passionfruit sorbet, pomegranate, orange & mint salad
Iced Riesling, Frogmore Creek – Coal River Valley, Tasmania
See here for more details.
For the best views of the Vivid lights in Sydney and a cocktail that will quite literally light up your night, reserve a table at Hacienda Sydney. Their bartenders have created the Light’er Up cocktail which will be exclusively available during the Vivid period.
A delicious concoction of Vodka, lemon juice, lavender syrup, raspberry syrup, blue pea flower and edible flowers, the cocktail is finished by lighting the passionfruit garnish on fire.
See here for more details.
Mind Body Life have teamed up with Lululemon and AMP for a magical practice overlooking the lights of VIVID on Friday, 08 June at 7:15pm.
Held on the 26th floor of AMP Building on Circular Quay, the class will be led by three senior BodyMindLife teachers, Ari Levanael, Ange Mitchell and Sam Belyea, and students will move to the live beats of Soul Drummer with one of the best views of the incredible light show in the city. Treats will be served after the session too. This special event is free but due to interest, passes will be drawn via ballot. Entries can be made here.
Grosvenor Place, CBD and Darling Harbour
Rosetta, located directly in front of the Vivid display at Grosvenor Place, will extend Aperitivo Hour from 3pm to 7pm, every weekday throughout the festival. Guests can snuggle up on Rosetta’s heated outdoor terrace while sipping on a $10 aperol spritz, negroni, espresso martini, house wine or beer. A selection of $10 salumi and antipasti are also available. The restaurant will open early from 5pm for à la carte dining. A two-course Vivid set menu ($49pp) is also available until 6pm every day.
Burger Project Black Label
Opening just in time for Vivid, Burger Project Black Label is also located in the Grosvenor Place precinct making it an ideal pit-stop for Vivid-goers hoping for a quick fix. A deluxe burger menu, house-made salads, gourmet chips and dips are available to eat in or take away.
Fratelli Fresh Darling Harbour
Harbour-side Vivid goers can head down to Fratelli Fresh Darling Harbour, which will open just in time for Vivid, and grab themselves a take- away picnic basket, or sit and enjoy views from the beer garden. Happy Hour kicks off from 4pm every weekday, with $5 negronis, martinis, spritzes and pizzas. Fratelli is also offering a delicious three-course set menu ($40pp) and bottomless cocktails ($29pp) every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the month. Fratelli Macquarie Street, Bridge Street, Westfield and Walsh Bay are other great Vivid locations.
Jade Temple, located in and amongst all the Vivid light action, is opening early from 5pm for à la carte dining. A three-course Vivid set menu ($45pp) is also available until 6pm, every day. It includes a cocktail on arrival, choice of three entrees, three mains, and a duck egg custard spring roll for dessert.
Before seeing the lights, take advantage of Spice Temple’s $12 cocktail hour specials. Every weekday from 4pm to 6pm, guests can choose from a selection of $12 Zodiac cocktails, $9 house wines, and $7 beers. Customers can also explore the bar menu featuring five exquisite $12 noodle dishes available every day, as well as à la carte options, from an earlier opening time of 5pm. A three-course Vivid set menu ($49pp) is also on offer.
Rockpool Bar & Grill
Rockpool Bar & Grill has created a stunning, Vivid inspired Margarita ($19). The Bubblegu Patrón Tequila is shaken with bespoke myrtle shrub and fresh lemon juice, topped with a plume of native mint bubbles. In addition to a beautiful à la carte menu, a three-course Vivid set menu is available, and will be served from the early opening time of 5pm. All day dining will also be available from the bar, with a special offer of wood fire grilled cheeseburger with house pickle and lager ($22).
Bar Patrón by Rockpool
Overlooking Circular Quay and offering one of the best seats in Sydney to see the lights, Bar Patrón by Rockpool has added a special gin & tonic to the menu. The G&T&T ($19) combines grapefruit, tequila, tonic and fresh lime, and is available throughout Vivid. Guests can dine à la carte, or from a four- course Vivid set menu available from the early opening time of 5pm.
Saké Restaurant & Bar
Saké Restaurant & Bar will open earlier than usual from 5pm, and serve its usual à la carte options, as well as an exclusive Vivid set menu ($55pp) including Hiramasa kingfish, prawn shumai, shiokoji chicken and tofu cheesecake. The Cut Bar & Grill also has a Vivid pre-light offer ($59pp), available from the early opening time of 5pm. Pre-Vivid diners will also be given a house-made chocolate biscuit to take away.
The Argyle has teamed up with Belvedere Vodka to bring guests Light The Night, Friday, 25 May. Dance music icons, The Potbelleez, will take to the stage, and the venue will be transformed into an adult playground with a dazzling light-show makeover. Doors open at 7pm and entry is free before 9pm. Take advantage of the happiest hours of the week next door at El Camino Cantina, with $7.50 Margaritas, craft beers, house tequila and house wine from Monday to Friday between 5-7pm.
This late-night hangout has its own fluorescent light show 365 days of the year, making it the perfect Vivid dining destination.
EORA – Dark Emu
Bangarra Dance Theatre will unveil EORA – Dark Emu, a new, large-scale projection designed especially for the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s Southern Pylon as part of Vivid Sydney 2018 on Friday 25 May at 6pm.
The captivating projection marries Aboriginal history, dance, art and architecture in a striking visual aesthetic as the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas celebrates its 10th anniversary year from 25 May to 16 June 2018.
Created by Bangarra’s Artistic Director Stephen Page and Head of Design Jacob Nash, the work features Bangarra dancers Tara Robertson, Yolanda Lowatta, Rika Hamaguchi, and Tyrel Dulvarie and shows the unbreakable connection between earth and sky.
The projection is inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book, Dark Emu, which explores the vital life force of flora and fauna and challenges the ‘hunter-gatherer’ myth of pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians.
Bangarra Dance Theatre, Head of Design, Jacob Nash said: “EORA – Dark Emu was created using abstract moving images of four dancers, evoking the Spirit Emu, who left the earth after its creation to reside as a dark shape in the Milky Way. The result is ethereal and unlike anything we’ve created before.”
The innovative artwork was made in collaboration with some of Sydney’s leading creatives, including award-winning Director of PhotographyBonnie Elliott, film editor Simon Njoo, post-production team Experience The Pulse, and Bangarra composer Steve Francis.
EORA – Dark Emu is the fifth in a series of EORA stories told by Bangarra as part of Vivid Sydney, following EORA – Bennelong (2017), EORA – The Land (2016), EORA – The Fisherwoman (2015) and EORA – The Spirit of Patyegarang (2014).
EORA – Dark Emu projection loop will be on show each night during Vivid Sydney from 6pm to 11pm.
VIVID LIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
The lights will shine brightly each night at precincts across Sydney including Barangaroo, Circular Quay, Chatswood, Darling Harbour, Kings Cross, Luna Park, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Taronga Zoo and The Rocks.
Luna Park makes its Vivid Sydney debut with a grand light show, Spirit of Fun on Coney Island, taking visitors on a wild ride of a different kind, while the Ferris Wheel will shine brighter, following a refit of more than 3,000 LED lights.
Customs House makes its return to Vivid Sydney with the beloved May Gibbs characters, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, who will drop by to celebrate their 100th birthday with a joyous adventure through the Australian bush.
You won’t be able to miss the spectacular Skylark show as it sends dozens of laser beams and lights into the night sky from atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay. The centerpiece is Bradfields Beacon – a fully interactive laser twice as strong as any ever seen on Sydney Harbour. Its full colour beams will reach right around the harbour, spotlighting iconic sites and moving from the inner harbour to the headlands each night in a two-minute spectacle every 30 minutes.
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney will be home to its largest footprint for Vivid Sydney yet, with a number of standout installations including; The Bloom a dazzling flower in the Garden with each guest featured at the centre of its 5-metre petals, a meandering puzzle-like pathway of light Aqueous that reacts when the young at heart jump, run and play on it, and a Vivid Sydney first for Government House, which will be lit by a projection designed by TAFE NSW students.
In Barangaroo, visitors will be enthralled by The Liminal Hour, a performance featuring a giant six metre tall puppet interacting with visitors on Wulugul Walk.
While on opening night, every eye will turn to the Sydney Opera House to see Metamathemagical, this year’s stunning Lighting of the Sails by featured artist Jonathan Zawada.
VIVID MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS
Too much music is never enough and Vivid Music delivers in spades in 2018 at venues across the city.
Grammy award winning rock star and goddess of reinvention, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist St Vincent will take to the stage for one exceptional night only on 17 June at Carriageworks.
It’s all things jazz with the Innovators in Jazz series at the City Recital Hall featuring triple Grammy award winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis and some of the world’s finest jazz vocalists, including Grammy winning baritone Kurt Elling and unparalleled songstress Madeleine Peyroux. Also joining the line-up is Orange is the New Black star Lea DeLaria who will mesh stand up comedy with her sultry vocals in her live show.
Hiatus Kaiyote will show why they’re one of the most sampled bands in the world at The City Recital Hall on 26 May. Iconoclastic purveyors of psychedelia, wildly original live band Brian Jonestown Massacremake their long awaited Australian return at The Metro on 8 June. The country’s most electrifying punk band WAAX will take to the same stage in an all-ages event the next night.
Super-scale live music and art event Curve Ball hits Carriageworks on 18 June, headlined by Alison Wonderland. Sydney’s most eclectic masquerade-ball-rock-show takes over the Enmore Theatre on 7 June when Young Hearts Run Free brings to life the celebrated soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet.
Music and visual delights combine in Introduced Species, a special one-hour event exploring the trash crisis in our oceans at the Seymour Centre on 31 May.
Transforming the Sydney Opera House’s historic interiors, Vivid LIVE celebrates its return in 2018, featuring 35 international and Australian performances including 19 Australian exclusives and 10 Sydney Opera House debuts.
Highlights include the Australian debut of California’s dream pop, cult duo, Mazzy Star, who will be bringing their mesmerising guitar and charming vocals to the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. Daniel Johns (aka Dr Dreams) and Empire of the Sun’s Luke Steele will also be unveiling their highly anticipated electro-pop collaboration Dreams for Vivid LIVE.
VIVID IDEAS HIGHLIGHTS
Spark your imagination, don your thinking cap and join some of the world’s best and brightest innovators to explore fresh thinking in design, technology and culture with Vivid Ideas.
Hear from inspirational Game Changers including futurist and game developer Jane McGonigal and Artificial Intelligence (AI) expert Kriti Sharma, who will join forces and put AI, virtual reality and gaming under the microscope to question the type of society we are creating with technology on 3 June. Pioneering environmental activists Peggy Oki and Laura Wells team up to talk protecting oceans, tackling the war on plastic and turning passion into action on 6 June.
Mambo Clothing founder and all-round Australian global success story Dare Jennings will reveal the joys of throwing the rule book away and following your gut to create cult brands on 27 May.
Visual Strategist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-founder of the Museum of Awe Dan Goods, whose work fusing art and science is shown at festivals, museums and in outer space, shares his unique insights on 3 June.
The inaugural Mark Colvin Conversation in honour of the late, great broadcaster and journalist promises a thought provoking and entertaining discussion on 3 June when TV presenter Julia Zemiro wrangles a panel of educators, writers and commentators debating, ‘Are schools and society fostering or stifling imagination?’.
You can find more information and buy tickets to all events at vividsydney.com
How to make the most of your festival
Plan ahead – planning your visit before you go is simple with precinct and accessibility maps, transport options and activities available at vividsydney.com or through the festival smartphone app.
Get ‘appy’ – download the Vivid Sydney app to browse and discover everything on offer, take audio tours around Vivid Sydney precincts, light walks and events, save your festival favourites in one place on all your devices, and use the Map feature to see where you are and what’s nearby. Try out the new augmented reality functions while at the festival.
Take public transport – leave the car at home (there’ll be road closures and clearways in the CBD and The Rocks) and take advantage of extra bus and train services during the festival. Ferries get very crowded, so have a back-up plan.
Go early in the festival and come back for more – there’s so much to see and do at Vivid Sydney it’s impossible to fit it all into one visit. Go early in the festival and you’ll have time to make return visits and avoid the last minute rush.
Pick your days and time – going early in the week is quieter than Friday and Saturday. If you have young kids in tow, visiting early in the evening when lights go on at 6pm means you can see the lights, grab dinner and get little ones home in time for bed before the crowd builds. At Chatswood and Taronga Zoo, lights go on earlier at 5.30pm.
Need a hand or got a question? – ask the Vivid Sydney Volunteers, they’re easy to spot in bright pink jackets and happy to answer your questions. The Vivid Information Booths at Darling Harbour, Circular Quay & West Circular Quay have children ID wristbands – just add your contact number to make it easy to be reunited should you get separated in the crowd.
About Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney is the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas and now the largest event in Australia. For 23 days – from 25 May to 16 June 2018 – the event places a spotlight on Sydney and reinforces its position as the home of light, creativity, cutting edge music, engaging conversations and the exchange of new ideas. The festival is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency. In 2017 Vivid Sydney attracted a record 2.33 million attendees and injected over $143 million into NSW’s visitor economy. For more information visit www.vividsydney.com