Vivid Sydney is an annual festival of ‘light, music and ideas’, which has become one of the cities most popular events since it began in 2009.
Although the citywide festival includes a wide range of events, it is mostly known for it’s light instillations and projections that illuminate the city, and transform its landmark buildings.
Unfortunately, our only glimpse of Vivid in 2017 was from an aeroplane window, as our first night living in Sydney coincided with the festival’s closing night. We were therefore keen to get the full experience this year, and eagerly awaited its arrival.
This years festival ran from 25 May to 16 June, meaning we had plenty of time to plan our visit. With Vivid attracting over 2 million visitors, we had been told the city often becomes incredibly crowded, and hoping to avoid the worst of this, we therefore decided to visit on a Monday.
We met just a short walk from my office at Darling Harbour, which was home to a temporary ferris wheel as well as the Fantastic Oceans instillation, an interesting water fountain and laser display.
Suitably impressed we continued to Circular Quay, the busy central hub of both the city and the festival. We were greeted by a dazzling array of lights, and joined the crowds viewing the numerous instillations located between the ferry wharfs.
We continued our walk around towards the Rocks, which provides spectacular views across the harbour, and is the perfect place to view the festival’s centrepiece – The Lighting of the Sails.
The instillation was designed by Australian artist Jonathan Zawada, and projects a series of digital sculptures onto the sails of the Opera House, in a fascinating array of neon colours and geometric designs. We sat for some time watching the beautiful swirling colours light-up Australia’s most famous landmark.
It seemed as though the entire area surrounding the Quay was also illuminated, with many of the City’s tall office buildings included in the Harbour Lights synchronised lighting display. A number of ferries and commercial cruise operators also participate in the display, with the reflections from these seemingly dancing across the water.
Our next stop took us away from the city lights, and into the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Gardens are a beautiful place to visit on any day of the year, but were even more impressive during Vivid. The darkness and large open spaces provided the perfect location for some of the festival’s biggest and most ambitious instillations. These included Hyperweb, a giant (and slightly scary) illuminated spiders web, as well as Light Houses, a row of brightly coloured structures inspired by the role that lighthouses have played in the history of Australia.
We continued walking around the bay of the Gardens, before stopping to look back and admire the amazing view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House that had appeared behind us. This is easily one of the best viewpoints the city has to offer, and in a city as beautiful as Sydney that is high praise indeed!
As we left the Gardens we came across one of the Festival’s strangest instillations, a play on the classic dad joke, which is spelt out using 2570 individual light bulbs.
We were very impressed with Vivid, and the vast number of instillations on display really provided a different perspective of the city. The majority of the festival can be enjoyed free of charge, and it is no surprise that it has become so popular with both locals and tourists alike.