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Vivid Sydney Festival

TBC — from late May to mid June

Location: Sydney, Country: Australia


Words by | Photos by Pamela Baker

Aerial shot of a harbour with a bridge and opera house lighted up, Sydney
Photo by James Horan

When the days get shorter and the weather turns chilly, the city of Sydney, Australia, has a dramatic way of welcoming the winter solstice. Vivid Sydney, a 23-day festival and the largest event of its kind in the world, turns Sydney into a kaleidoscope of lights, music, and ideas.

Vivid Lights

At night, blurring the line between art and technology, Vivid Lights transforms Sydney into the world’s largest outdoor ‘art gallery’. The evening kicks off when the sails of Sydney Opera House billow with colour and light. The city becomes a night-time wonderland through laser light shows, light art sculptures and 3-D mapped projections of images thrusted skyward and on to the city’s iconic buildings, harbour vessels, and bridge.

Spectators can follow a series of interactive light displays through Sydney’s landmark precincts like The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Royal Botanical Gardens and Taronga Zoo.

The Opera House sails suddenly change from a huge butterfly into a giant, moving jellyfish; the Museum of Contemporary Art comes alive with hundreds of psychedelic ribbons of colour; and the Sydney Harbour Bridge streams beams of light out over the harbour.

Vivid Music

Vivid Music features over 100 live performances and musical collaborations, some free, some with a cost. From small bars to large venues like the Sydney Opera House, Vivid Music brings local and international talent to the city.

Vivid Ideas

Vivid Ideas offers more than 100 different talks, seminars, and workshops on topics from technology and start-up culture, visual arts and performance, marketing and advertising — all celebrating creativity, innovation and community. Business and creative leaders from around the world provide updates on their industries, new developments and market opportunities.


  • Vivid Lights kicks off each evening at 6pm and runs until 11pm. Weekends draw the biggest crowds and the first few hours are the most crowded. But as families with small children head home around 9pm, crowds thin out. Monday through Wednesday are not as well attended.
  • With so much to see and do, it’s difficult to cover it all. View the Vivid Sydney website ahead of time to determine which attractions might interest the most, then allow at least two to three days to soak up the festival.
  • Walking the various locations is the best way to see Vivid Lights, but tour boats ranging anywhere from one-hour tours to dinner cruises are readily available.

Visit Vivid Sydney

Brightly coloured desiggn on wings of the Opera House, Sydney
Building with multi-coloured patterns all over, Sydney, Australia
Lighted-up , multi-coloured skyscrapers bt the river, Vivid, Sydney
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