Toss aside those autumn/winter blues because it’s that time of the year once again. The time to step out, indulge your creative and artistic senses, tickle your taste buds, and explore the city from a whole new perspective.
Vivid Sydney is here! In its 10th year, the festival is now on much firmer ground having established itself in the eyes of the world as Sydney’s preeminent event, and yet remarkably (to the great credit of Destination NSW and all its partners), it has expanded its scope this year, so that there’s more to see and experience and revel in. From 25th May to 16th June 2018, throw on your fanciest warm wear and head out to the festival of lights, music, and ideas. And don’t forget your cameras!
It’s not the easiest job to make Sydney look prettier than usual (since its plenty pretty as is), but every year, Vivid Sydney somehow manages to bring out the stunning landscapes and colourful hues of this city in newer, more innovative ways.
Circular Quay & The Rocks: As always, Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge is radiant in all their festive colours during Vivid. The areas around Circular Quay and The Rocks has a host of innovative installations on display, so whether you want to bring out your inner child by jumping around a virtual ball pit or awaken your space-nerdiness by feeling like a NASA astronaut for a bit, there’s something for everyone.
There is plenty to see and do, and if you feel like you’re starting to tire out, grab a drink and a snack to refuel, from the line of permanent restaurants and pop-up stalls all around.
Barangaroo & Darling Harbour: Of course, two festive harbour-fronts are better than one. Not to be outshone by the gorgeousness that is Circular Quay especially during Vivid, Darling Harbour, Barangaroo and the nearby areas will also be home to a spectacular display of lights, colours, and sounds. The themes for Vivid Sydney at Barangaroo and Darling Harbour this year are “water, fire and land.” During the festival, this plush and popular entertainment precinct elevates its usually rather exuberant nature to something even more delightful and wondrous.
And if sipping wine as you relax at an outdoor table watching the languorous-yet-elegant ferries swish past and hearing the soothing sounds of the water as whimsical night lights twinkle around you wasn’t enough, during Vivid Sydney, Barangaroo will journey back into the time of myth and legend. Liminal Hour is a display on the boardwalk that includes a gorgeous, luminescent, and massive puppet named Marri Dyin, and will pay homage to the First Nations women who lived in the area prior to settlement.
A little further along the promenade towards Darling Harbour, the waterfront will be lit in glorious fluorescent tones, bringing alive stories of the ocean with Fantastic Oceans, an installation that features giant jellyfish that appear to surreally float across the water.
An array of multihued fountains keep the whimsy alive, while the iconic domed roof of the Australian National Maritime Museum will turn into a giant screen as parts of BBC Earth and Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II are projected on to it.
Tip: While you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Maritime Museum to experience James Cameron – Challenging the Deep, a brilliant exhibition that chronicles James Cameron’s deep sea exploration, and is equal parts immersive and enthralling.
Nearby, Tumbalong Park will also have a series of fun, colourful, and innovation installations and experiences, that are deliberately more inclusive and accessible this year.
The CBD and surrounding areas: From a beautifully rendered version of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie that’s guaranteed to induce nostalgia in a generation of Australian adults to Closer, a stark and relevant observation “of human connection and social interaction in the digital age,” Vivid Sydney will, once again, turn the genteel environs of the city’s financial districts into a playground of sorts.
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney: Between 25th May to 16th June, the already-beautiful Royal Botanic Garden will be the site of the most exquisite installations we’ll have the good fortune to experience. Birds, flowers, plants, and the wonder of nature are all on display through the creations of a number of artists.
As you enter the gardens through the revolving gates near the Sydney Opera House Forecourt, you’ll be treated to The Nautilus Forest, which is at its most simplistic, a series of spiral trees made up of over 40,000 RGB pixels; at its most profound, it is an intricate work of art that combines nature and geometry to create an exhilarating display of the various patterns and colours of a spiral.
You might feel a bit spoilt for options photographically, between the simplistic beauty of the Tibetan-inspired Wish Happiness and the hypnotic effervescence of Oasis. Or the childlike aura of the delightful Parrot Party, and so many other incredible installations.
Tip: Carry your credit cards with you because the gardens will also host dining and wining options this year, complete with inspired cocktails that would make any botanist proud and are served in glasses shaped like light bulbs, to a delightful cupcake ATM. Yes, you read that right!
Taronga Zoo: Across the harbour, Vivid Sydney is back at Taronga Zoo, roaring to life each evening with the most incredibly magnificent display of plants and creatures, while also highlighting conservation and educating audiences about endangered species.
Lights for the Wild is an unforgettable, fun, and quirky journey that begins as you step into the mouth of a giant Port Jackson Shark installation at Taronga’s heritage entrance, through to the zoo grounds. Amidst the dark and lush surroundings, you’ll catch sight of creatures that’ll leap to life despite only being illustrations of established artists and schoolchildren.
As a bonus, the post-sunset sights of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge (especially near the giraffe enclosure) will most likely take your breath away. Once again, keep your cameras handy!
Tip: Taronga zoo gets ridiculously chilly during late hours. Stay warm and layered up!
Elsewhere, King’s Cross will have a series of “Hidden Art” installations powered by AR Tech. that push the boundaries of art and innovation, in the age of virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence. Chatswood also has many technologically innovative displays, while Luna Park will keep the magic of entertainment parks alive during the festival.
Besides the lights and art at Vivid Sydney, there’s also Vivid Music, a contemporary music program with local and international artists (hey, Ice Cube is performing opening night at the Sydney Opera House!) performing at Carriageworks, City Recital Hall, and Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House, as well as Vivid Ideas, which celebrates Sydney’s status as a creative hub of Asia Pacific. A series of public talks, workshops, conferences, and debates with thinkers, innovators and creators in the fields of game-developing, design, A.I. among others, will explore change brought about through creativity.
That’s right folks, Vivid Sydney 2018 is here.
Vivid Sydney 2018: 25th May to 16th June. For more information, visit https://www.vividsydney.com/