Vivid Sydney is one of the Australian Festivals that had been long on my bucket list. It’s the largest Australian Festival and one of the largest in the world. In my opinion the most exciting festivals I have ever see, and I think you will love it too.
Vivid is a celebration of art, creativity, music, and innovation with lighting and filming projections and highly educational and engaging performances involving local and international artists and various industries and the community alike.
When is Vivid Sydney in 2021?
Vivid Sydney is also the world largest outdoor festival of this kind. Every year, it takes place over (update) three weeks between May and June, with a rich calendar of outdoor performances and events scattered around various areas of Sydney, Australia.
It’s all about its urban areas transformed and re-interpreted through the eyes of many local and international artists.
Where to stay in Sydney during Vivid
If you plan to go to Vivid, you should book in advance cause hotels are fully sold out, especially over weekends. During weekdays you may be lucky to find some places to stay if you decide to visit now. I spent a couple of nights at the Pier One Hotel in Sydney, a waterfront beautiful hotel close to Harbour Bridge.
I wouldn’t stay far from all the main places of the Vivid Festival. If you are travelling on a budget, a great location to stay during the light festival is the YHA The Rocks, but be sure to book a few months ahead.
You can also use this widget to search, compare and book your hotel in Sydney:
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, make sure you 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 catching 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 small taste of it, an introduction to the wealth of inspirational performances.
Where to watch the best Vivid Light Shows
If you think you can see Vivid in one day, think again because this will not happen. With so many festival highlights to see, you will need at least 2 full days. If you can plan 3 days, that would be ideal.
Circular Quay with the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House are the main locations where the bulk performances occur, and 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 in the area 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 normal 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 spend hours browsing through the stalls and checking out the various light panels.
There were 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
Among all the top Vivid locations, Darling Harbour was my favourite, 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 such a pleasure to stroll around Darling Harbour, sit down for dinner and enjoy the magic going on. 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 when you go on the Skywalk, so be sure you shoot some good photos from inside. This is one of the photos I took from Sydney Tower.
How to organize your trip to Sydney
With an array of Vivid Events, I’m sure you will feel overwhelmed. To help you with that, click and head over to the official site for Sydney Light Festival, where you can find anything you need to get your trip organized and book yourself into workshops and events. Etc.
The best way to visit Sydney during the Vivid Festival is on foot. Or get an Opal Card. You can also go on day trips by public transport from Sydney to see more of its beautiful surroundings.
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First written in 2016, last updated in April 2021
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