Vivid Sydney is one of the top Australian Festivals and one of the world’s largest outdoor festivals. In my opinion, the most exciting arts festival I have ever seen. It celebrates art, creativity, music, and innovation with lighting and filming projections and highly educational and engaging performances. It’s about urban areas transformed and re-interpreted through the eyes of local and international artists from various industries and environments.
Dates for Vivid Sydney 2023?
This year, Vivid 2023 starts on 26th May and through the 17 June. And again, the rich calendar of outdoor performances and events scattered around various areas of Sydney will not disappoint.
Where to stay in Sydney during Vivid
If you plan to go to Vivid, you should book in advance cause hotels are entirely sold out, especially over weekends. During weekdays you may be lucky to find some places to stay if you decide to visit now.
I stayed at the Pier One Hotel in Sydney, a beautiful waterfront hotel close to Harbour Bridge.
You can also use this widget to search, compare and book your hotel in Sydney, or you can check out our Guide to the Best Areas in Sydney Where to Stay.
Vivid Sydney Tips
The best way to get to the Vivid Festival is to use public transportation—train, metro and buses. If you come by car, arrange your parking space before arriving, if you don’t want to spend a fortune. Once you are in Sydney, walk, walk and more walk.
Walking is the way to explore Sydney during the festival. However, while some of the vivid locations are concentrated around Circular Quay, the Harbour Bridge and the surrounding areas if you want to go to Darling Harbour, the best way to get there is to catch a ferry from Circular Quay.
Buses are a no-go as most streets and roads in the city are closed to traffic. If you drive into Sydney, do it early before the light shows start at night.
Vivid Sydney Photos
I visited Vivid Sydney in 2015, and all pictures here are from that year. It’s only a tiny taste, an introduction to the wealth of inspirational performances.
Where to watch the best Vivid Light Shows
If you can see Vivid in one day, think again because this will not happen. You will need at least two full days with so many festival highlights. If you can plan three days, that would be ideal.
The primary locations where the bulk performances occur are Circular Quay with the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. One day is not enough to explore this area alone.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay are the areas I liked most. However, I must say that the light projections on the Sydney Opera House were a bit disappointing and far from what you see on the web. The Harbour Bridge is illuminated with various colours along the edges. The main activities occur around the bridge, with varied interactive platforms that can entertain you for hours.
I loved strolling along Circular Quay, raising my eyes to the sky and marvelling at the illuminated buildings’ bright colours. The effect is truly stunning because it shows you the majestic of the surrounding buildings that you wouldn’t otherwise take any notice of by average daylight.
I loved watching a fairy tale or a short film projected in bright colours on the MOMA façade (Museum of Modern Art).
Hyde Park and St. Martin Place is a Vivid Sydney best spot with live music, food stalls and quirky interactive platforms. You can browse the stalls and check out the various light panels.
There were a few stalls with lighting panels where you could take a picture, share it on Twitter and FB and maybe be the lucky winner and be picked for the best Vivid photo!
Vivid Light Festival at Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour was my favourite among the top Vivid locations, although I am not a big fan of this area. Here Lighting Sydney is at its best. Performances take place on the water while excellent music enlivens the scenery.
All restaurants and dining venues are packed with a cheerful and unique atmosphere. On a balmy autumn evening, it’s a pleasure to stroll around Darling Harbour, sit down for dinner and enjoy the magic. The fireworks on the water with the light reflections are the cherry on the cake. All in all, a wonderful sensorial experience, really worthwhile!
Another idea for experiencing Vivid Sydney, painted in colours at night, is to take a Sydney Skywalk on the Sydney Tower and enjoy the view from over 300 meters of height.
I did that on the first evening and can recommend it. However, you will not be allowed to take your camera on the Skywalk, so be sure to shoot some good photos from inside. This is one of the photos I took from Sydney Tower.
A Trip Planning Guide To Sydney
I’m sure you will feel overwhelmed by an array of Vivid Events. Book your flight and accommodation well ahead, as everything in Sydney tends to be booked out at least a few months earlier. Below is the link to our guide to the best places to stay in Sydney.
To help you with your trip, we have a Solo Travel Guide to Sydney.
The best way to explore Sydney during the Vivid Festival is on foot. But I also recommend buying a public transport Opal Card for longer distances and using the ferries.
You can also go on day trips by public transport from Sydney to see more of its beautiful surroundings.
Want to go on a guided day trip from Sydney? Check out the list below!
Related Articles And Guides
Best Sydney Day Trips
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First published in 2016, last updated in April 2023
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