Hats off to Sydney for pulling off this showstopper of a festival every year. In May and June, it transforms the city, with immersive light installations, projections and performances that are thrilling to watch.
With a jam-packed event calendar based on three elements — Vivid Light, Vivid Music, Vivid Ideas — it’s grown in size exponentially since its inception a decade ago — and it’s not hard to why. Without spending a penny, you can watch as Sydney’s iconic sights are transformed, as the clock strikes six, with technicolour laser shows and murals of flickering lights. And while plenty of the action is free, ticketed events add to the pizazz withhighly desirable gigs and concerts, where carefree music fanatics dance into the night and big-name acts play to ecstatic audiences at the Sydney Opera House and venues across the city. Enlightening technology talks, meanwhile, attract a legion of luminaries,and emerging talent in the creative industries.
A very civilised affair, Vivid Sydney is inclusive and accessible for all, with dedicated drop-off and pick-up zones, audio descriptions and sign language interpreters, plus interactive experiences for children with disabilities. Come on a weeknight — especially Monday to Wednesday — to avoid the crowds, and grab an early dinner to catch the best views and watch as travellers light up with excitement and children gaze in wonder. Keep in mind, too, that it’s impossible to see everything in one night, so try to plan your visit and travel to different precincts on different days.
As ever, the 2019 festival won’t disappoint. Don’t miss out.
Meet the person behind the icon: Sandra Chipchase, Executive Producer, Vivid Sydney
So Vivid Sydney, what’s it all about?
Amazing light installations and creative projections transform our buildings and open spaces into a canvas of light. If you’re a music lover, you can catch some of the world’s top performers and artists at gigs across the city, and you can attend talks to see some of the world’s best luminaires and visionaries speak as part of our Game Changers series.
What does Vivid Sydney mean to you?
It has a wonderful way of bringing people together. One night I was in The Rocks precinct admiring some installations and happened upon two Australian drag queens dancing with a group of Chinese tourists and Sydney locals — it beautifully captured the inclusive spirit of the festival.
What makes it so iconic?
It’s become the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas, while showcasing Sydney’s position as a leading hub of art, technology and innovation.
Tell us something unexpected
Vivid Sydney actually broke a Guinness World Record for the ‘largest interactive lighting display’ in 2017. Dreamscape was made up of 124,128 lights and linked the entire Circular Quay precinct from the Sydney Opera House to the Sydney Harbour Bridge into one cohesive canvas of light.
If you like this, try these…
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Festivals are for opening your mind. For converting to your free-spirited self. And this legendary annual festival is the perfect place to do so — and more. With A-list music acts, a flamboyant parade and epic after-parties, it’s a whole lot of fun for everyone.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour
For world-class opera in one of the most spectacular settings, this event dazzles each year on Sydney Harbour. The open theatre ‘floats’ on the harbour, with a backdrop of the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the glittering cityscape. In 2019, the musical West Side Story will take to the iconic stage.
Orange F.O.O.D. Week
Calling all gourmet travellers —this long-running foodie fest in the wine region of Orange in Central New South Wales brings the region’s rich natural larder to the fore and shines the spotlight on its contemporary kitchens, cafes and superb producers with tastings, farm tours, cooking demos and a clutch of other food-focused events.
How to do it
Fly to Sydney with Singapore Airlines from £765pp return. Singapore Airlines offers four daily flights from London Heathrow and five flights a week from Manchester with seamless connections via Singapore. singaporeair.com