Running over 23 nights – from 25 May to 16 June 2018 – Vivid Sydney is the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. Vivid 2017 drew a record of 2.33 million attendees. Now in its tenth year, this vibrant, diverse celebration has grown to become the largest event in Australia.
To assist families with their Vivid Sydney planning, we’ve put together a list of the highlights as well as some tips for a smooth evening out.
The Royal Botanic Garden
A shifting landscape of colour and light, Aqueous invites interaction. It features a winding pathway that changes when visitors to walk, run, jump or play along its surface.
Kids will love weaving through the trees of the magnificent Nautilus Forest comprising 24 spiralling trees with colourful, rippling branches.
Open 6–11 pm
In what is sure to be a very popular Vivid exhibit for families, May Gibbs much-loved children’s book characters, Gumnut Babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, are brought to life on the façade of Sydney’s Custom House, with narration by Noni Hazlehurst.
Open 6–11 pm
At the historic Cadmans Cottage, BALLpit allows visitors to interact with tens of thousands of virtual, responsive coloured balls.
First Fleet Park
Wobbelees is a fun, interactive display with oversized roly-poly light sculptures. When pushed, the four Wobbelees tilt from side to side, changing colours and making chiming sounds. The installation is accessible to visitors of all ages and mobility.
The Garden of Sweeties encourages visitors to learn more about solar energy in a playful, enticing way, with an appealing selection of illuminated sweets, lollipops and striped candy canes dotted over a corner of the park.
Harmony Valley – Rainbow of Peace & Trees of Friendship includes a series of large inflatable sculptures with exaggerated cute aesthetics referencing Japanese ‘kawaii’ culture. There is also a lively accompanying soundscape. Visitors are invited to interact with the sculpture by forming a chain to connect with each end of the rainbow. When this positive cooperative act takes place, the sculpture responds with new sounds, animations and pulsing light.
Open Monday to Sunday 6–11 pm
Barangaroo and Darling Harbour
Explore Barangaroo’s glowing waterfront promenade. If you listen closely, you’ll also hear the sounds of birds and the sea. A giant luminescent creature moves along the waterfront in a theatrical display.
At Cockle Bay, Fantastic Oceans combines water and lighting technology to create a stunning display that celebrates the underwater world.
Projected onto the rooftop of the National Maritime Museum, BBC Earth and Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II takes visitors on a staggering journey to our oceans.
Note: there are also fireworks on Friday and Saturdays at 8 pm.
Open Monday to Sunday 6–11 pm
The Spirit of Fun celebrates the iconic Sydney amusement park, Luna Park. Located at Luna Park’s Coney Island, this breathtaking whimsical installation reflects the park’s colourful history.
Open: Sunday to Thursday 6–10 pm, Friday and Saturday 6–11 pm
Lights for the Wild at Taronga Zoo
Lights for the Wild features a spectacular display of more than 219 light sculptures throughout the grounds of Taronga Zoo. With a focus on conservation, this stunning exhibit showcases some of the most endangered wildlife from ocean, bush and forest habitats.
Session Times: 5.30 pm, 6.30 pm, 7.30 pm (start times only, approx. 2-hour experience)
Tickets: Monday to Thursday (excluding public holiday) – Adults: $23.95, Children: $17.95, Concession: $21.56; Friday to Sunday and public holiday – Adults: $26.95, Children: $18.95, Concession: $24.26; Children under 4: Free
To avoid the crowds, it is best to go on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. (Also avoid going during the long weekend in June). You can park at the car park for $9 or if you choose to use public transport you can plan your trip via www.transportnsw.info or call 131 500 for up-to-date information and timetables.
Food and beverage outlets will be open at Taronga Zoo during the evening, as well as additional Vivid-only food and beverage pop-ups, and Taronga’s retail outlets will also be open to purchase keepsakes and other wildlife memorabilia.
Join the Octopoda in his tentacle percussion! Located near the Westfield entrance at Chatswood Mall, the fabulous Octopoda has eight tentacle drums, each one activating a dazzling colour and light. When all eight drums combine, this installation will delight the audience with a dramatic display colour and movement.
As its name suggests, the Light Market is a brightly coloured market created from hundreds of pieces of local recycling. The market will host international foodie delights and entertainment.
Open Monday to Sunday 5.30–10:30 pm
Some tips for families visiting Vivid Sydney
- Don’t try to see too much at once. Choose a few highlights per area – or go several times!
- Beat the crowds by arriving early. Get there for ‘lights on’ (5.30 pm or 6 pm depending on the location).
- Keep in mind that weekday evenings are less crowded than weekend nights.
- Leave the car at home and take advantage of additional public transport during the festival.
- Dress warmly, or pack extra layers, as it can get quite cool.
- Be prepared for wet weather! Bring your raincoats.
All images courtesy of Vivid Sydney
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