Sydney will be once again be transformed into a spectacular canvas of light, music and ideas for Vivid Sydney, from 25 May – 16 June 2018. Vivid Sydney’s iconic outdoor ‘art-gallery’ illuminates the city with a mesmerising collection of light art, installations and projections.
With a range of events across the city, here are our top picks for families or friends. Make sure to download the Vivid 2018 app to plan ahead.
Family Friendly Events
Lights for the wild, Taronga Zoo
A festival favourite, Lights for the Wild showcases magnificent animal light sculptures in an unforgettable experience for the whole family. During Vivid Sydney, visitors can enter the zoo through the mouth of a giant shark to discover glowing marine life and great predators of the jungle. Each of the dazzling installations also shares an important message about conservation—they symbolise the 10 species that Taronga Zoo is dedicated to saving from extinction. Lights for the Wild will show for three sessions each evening throughout the festival.
Location: Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head Road, Mosman
Times: 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm, 7:30 pm
Session duration: Approx. 2 hours Ticket prices: $20.95 (adult), $16.95 (4 – 15 years), free (4 years and under).
Garden of Sweeties
The Garden of Sweeties invites families and children to learn more about how solar panels, luminescent powder and mechanical energy can be used as a source of renewable energy.
The installation takes a playful approach to entice interaction by presenting its components in the form of sweets, lollipops and striped candy canes scattered across a green corner of First Fleet Park
Location: The Rocks
Times: Anytime between 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm Cost: Free
As the sun sets, Barangaroo’s waterfront becomes an illuminated promenade inspired by water, earth and fire. Welcoming you to the precinct is a giant luminescent creature, breathtaking in size. Operated by a team of performers, the creature ventures along the waterfront in a highly theatrical display of sound and light. Barangaroo glows under layers of light and sound that evoke the surrounding waterways. If you listen closely, you can hear the sounds of birds and the sea. Location: Wulugul Walk, Barangaroo Times: 6:00 – 11:00 pm Cost: Free
Aqueous is a fabulous interactive landscape of illuminating pathways through the Royal Botanic Garden by US artist Jen Lewin. Reflection and shifting colour and light react to audience participants as they run and walk along the pathway. The design of Aqueous is based on three different shaped modular platforms that connect like puzzle pieces in endless combinations of layouts.
Custom layouts can range from wavering lines to abstract symmetric shapes to fit a variety of spaces upwards of 10,000 square feet. Aqueous’ platforms are easy to clean and made for aggressive public use in almost any setting. The anti-slip treatment on the reflective surface of the sculpture make it ideal for a variety of indoor and outdoor environments.
By day, the surface of Aqueous will reflect the sky, audience, and surrounding environment. The mirage of shifting colour encourages a moment of play, leading to profound contextual, connected community response in the space.
At night, Aqueous will animate and glow in full illuminated interactivity, engaging individuals or groups in collaborative play. To interact with the platforms one must engage actively within the sculpture by stepping, running, jumping, or playing along the pathway. These user-based interactions alter the light and colour of the sculpture.
Location: Mrs Macquaries Road, The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Times: 6 pm – 11:00 pm Cost: Free
Wish Happiness transforms a playground carousel into a colourful illuminated ‘wheel of positive energy’. Visitors who turn the wheel generate a collective wish for peace and happiness to all beings.
Location: The Royal Botanic Garden
Times: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm Cost: Free
Tumbalong Lights is an inclusive experience where all children and their families can enjoy the magic of Vivid Sydney in its 10th anniversary year. Tumbalong Lights is a collection of four interactive-play installations that form an inclusive and accessible Vivid Light experience for both children and the young at heart.
Location: Tumbalong Park
Times: From 6:00 pm Cost: Free
One of Sydney’s most cherished family attractions, Luna Park will glow even more brightly during Vivid Sydney. The familiar promenade and fair rides of Sydney’s oldest amusement park will be splashed with colourful, patterned lights. The iconic Ferris Wheel has also been fitted with hundreds of extra lights, which means Luna Park will shine brighter than ever during Vivid Sydney 2018.
Times: Between 6:00 – 11:00 pm (Friday & Saturday only) or between 6:00 – 10:00 pm (Sunday – Thursday)
Location: Luna Park, 1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point Cost: Free to enter, ride passes available for purchase.
Drinks with Friends
Bombay Sapphire x MCA Pop-Up Bar
As the temperatures drop, head to the MCA’s rooftop Sculpture Terrace and get your Vivid Sydney views served with an incredible list of gin-infused cocktails.
The simmering Winter Warmer in Laverstoke will be served in an elegant tea cup and saucer, blending together ginger, chocolate butter and Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino Vermouth. Get your mitts on new twists on a G&T or negroni in glow-in-the-dark glasses and pick your own garnishes from a vertical garden. The Bombay Sapphire x MCA Pop-Up Bar is the perfect spot for a wintry night out.
Dates: Wednesday, Friday & Saturday nights during 25 May – 16 June
Location: MCA Café, Level 4, 140 George Street, The Rocks
Times: 5:00 – 9:00 pm Cost: Free entry, beverages for purchase
Light the Night at Grain
As the Vivid Sydney festival returns this year, Grain are shaking things up with a ‘Light the Night’ experience in partnership with Belvedere. Running every night throughout the festival, the experience draws inspiration from the colours and creativity of Vivid.
The talented team have created a unique and playful cocktail list, including a completely transparent take on the Bloody Mary to a cocktail served billowing with smoke.
Savour these creations surrounded by a mesmerising on-site light installation or take respite from the cold beside the glowing fireplace.
Location: Grain Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, 199 George Street, The Rocks
Times: 6:00 pm – Midnight Cost: Free entry, beverages for purchase
Pop-up Igloos at Pier One Sydney Harbour
Sit back and enjoy the festival of Vivid from your private pop-up Igloos on the Pier at Walsh Bay, located overlooking Sydney Harbour.
Igloo Suite Package – Pier One Sydney Harbour is giving you an experience like no other with your very own private Igloo party from the comfort of a luxury suite. Two guests will stay overnight in a beautiful Harbour View Balcony Suite with views of Sydney Harbour and Walsh Bay. On the balcony of your luxe suite, host your own private Igloo party. Host up to 8 friends while you watch the boats go by. This package includes a magnum of G.H.Mumm champagne to get the party started. A menu of cocktails, canapes and beverages is available for pre-order to really enhance your party.
Maximum 10 guests can attend the party. Party must conclude at 9.00 pm.
Mr Black’s Festival of the Espresso Martini
After a sell-out run in 2017, Mr Black’s Festival of the Espresso Martini returns this year as CAFFEINE, a revved up reincarnation honouring the best of Australia’s bar and coffee culture. When it comes to alcohol and coffee, true craftsmanship is something to celebrate. In fact, it’s festival-worthy.
That’s why the coffee liqueur legends behind Mr Black are transforming the Cargo Hall in Circular Quay’s Overseas Passenger Terminal into a temple of fine food, cocktails and coffee experiences for three days of festivities, beginning Friday 25th May and running through the opening weekend of VIVID.
Dates & Times: Friday 25th from 4 – 7 pm and 7.30 – 10.30 pm / Saturday 26th from 1 – 4 pm / 4.30 – 7.30 pm & 8 – 11 pm / Sunday 27th May from 1 – 4 pm / 4.30 – 7.30 pm
Venue: The Cargo Hall, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks
Drink: Four different themed bars to choose from, serving Espresso Martini variations, caffeinated cocktails, classic cocktails, beer & wine, coffee and non alcoholic beverages
Eat: Salt Meats Cheese – antipasto & cheese boards, Johnny Bird – fried chicken & burgers, Gelato and Cafe style pastries and snacks.
Feel Good Jazz Sessions
Great live jazz and classic records spinning in a comfy lounge atmosphere. Unwind in style with good company, fine bar selection and great live music. These jazz sessions feature the city’s finest musicians and it’s free entry in the award winning 505 Jazz Lounge.
Location: Venue 505, 280 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills
Times: 7:30 pm – Midnight
Ticket prices: Free entry, beverages for purchase
Enjoy the Vivid night lights and enjoy a drink with friends!
Banskii – Perch on a leather bar stool and order up on vodka Martinis at this brightly lit vermouth bar and bistro. Enjoy drinks and dinner with a front row view of the lights
Location: Shop 11, 33 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo
Hacienda Bar Sydney – throughout Vivid this new-look Cuban-inspired cocktail lounge at the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour will be a hot spot. The glassed-in box jutting out over the concourse has excellent views of the harbour from every seat and they will also be shaking up two special Vivid cocktails
Location: 61 Macquarie Street, Sydney
NOLA Smokehouse and Bar – NOLA in Barangaroo South earns bragging rights for its view over the brilliant installations around Jones Bay Wharf, Barangaroo and beyond. Nosh on barbecued Yamba shrimps while working through the 500-strong list of whiskies.
Location: Tower 1, Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo South
Best Dining Locations enjoy the wonder of the Vivid festival of light and take advantage of Vivid dining experiences.
Altitude, Shangri La Sydney – located on the 36th floor of the Hotel enjoy a 6-course tasting menu $170 per person or $235 per person with matching wines
Cafe Sydney – perched a-top of the Customers House lighting display that will this year celebrate iconic Australian author and much-loved children’s illustrator, May Gibbs – the creator of Gumnut babies, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.
O Bar and Dining – 47 floors above the city, O Bar and Dining provides the perfect vantage point for Vivid Sydney. Book a table or pop into the bar for share plates and cocktails and enjoy!
Ripples Milsons Point & Ripples Chowder Bay – See Sydney’s world famous light show accompanied by an unforgettable dinner across two of the city’s most premium dining establishments. Bookings essential – 31st May and 7th June, $225 per person.
Rock Pool Bar and Grill – dine in the heart of the Rocks and be out with plenty of time to enjoy the lights, with the earlier opening time of 5:00pm every evening during the Festival.
The Dining Room, Park Hyatt – the four-metre, floor-to-ceiling windows make for unreal views of Vivid right from your table and away from the crowds.
Aria – Matt Moran’s newly renovated two-hatted Aria Restaurant is one of the best vantage points for the Opera House and Sydney Harbour view.
GRAZE MCA Vivid Pop-Up Bar – escape the crowds and warm your soul with mulled wine and comfort food at GRAZE MCA’s Vivid pop-up bar; open from 5:30 pm, no bookings required.
Rosetta – dine at Rosetta in the heart of all the Vivid action and be out with plenty of time to enjoy the lights, with the earlier opening time of 5pm every evening.
Jade Temple – Jade Temple will be open every evening from 5pm during Vivid, so you can dine and be just moments from all the light and music action.
Saké Restaurant & Bar – open from 5pm; $55 set menu available until 6pm
The Cut Bar and Grill – open from 5.30pm, $59 set menu available until 6pm