Vivid Sydney has kicked off its annual celebration of lights, music and ideas, turning the Harbour City into an iridescent playground packed with free and ticketed events. Beginning with the now traditional Lighting of the Sydney Opera House sails, the annual event is looking at a long list of one-off things to do as it runs from Friday, May 26 to Saturday, June 17.
The Vivid Sydney lineup is a lot to get your head around. Just in case you’ve been slacking on the planning side of things but still want to make the most of Vivid Sydney, we’ve put together a quick guide on what to see at the world-famous festival of lights, as well as what to eat and drink to keep you fuelled up.
What To Do At Vivid Sydney 2023
From now until July 16 (well past when Vivid ends), a series of unused underground tunnels at Wynyard Station will be open for the very first time to host a new exhibition called Dark Spectrum. Think lasers, robotics, lighting and pulsating EDM across eight themed rooms designed to represent different facets of the human experience and colour.
Immersive multimedia has proven popular in Sydney previously with exhibitions like Van Gogh Alive so it’ll be interesting to see how this all goes down as Dark Spectrum makes it world premiere at Vivid Sydney before touring the world.
Tickets: $35, children from $24, families from $98 (timed entry).
Where: Entry via Wynyard Park Rooftop between York and Carrington Streets.
When: Friday, May 26 to Sunday, July 16.
Mary’s HERE NOW Festival
The crew behind Mary’s has leaned on their extensive network in Sydney’s hospitality industry to put together a day party for Vivid. This one, however, is focused purely on food, wine, music and art. The one-day-only HERE NOW festival takes place in Macquarie Park Place, curating a lineup of artisan winemakers, breweries, chefs and distilleries to enjoy between 3 PM and 9 PM before the after-party kicks on at Mary’s Underground.
Where: Macquarie Park Place, Sydney
When: Sunday, June 11
Hotel Vivid at Crown Sydney
The folks over at Crown Sydney have put together a package for those keen to immerse themselves within the city’s magic from a certifiably unique angle (and beyond the standard nocturnal excursion amongst the crowds). Witness Vivid Sydney unfold from the comfort of a Deluxe King Room at Crown Towers; a wonderfully indulgent offering that includes:
- A bottle of champagne delivered to your room upon arrival
- Breakfast for two at the famed Epicurean
- $100 resort credit to use at selected Crown restaurants, in-room dining, or Crown Spa
Guests also get a complimentary 12 PM late check-out and valet parking.
If dropping in for a post-work drink is more your jam, Crown Sydney’s sky-high bar on level 26 – CIRQ – is also open to the public with a special Vivid-inspired menu. We’d be surprised if it wasn’t the highest outdoor bar in Sydney, a title which comes hand in hand with one of the best views of the harbour city.
Tickets: $919 per night
Where: Crown Sydney, Barangaroo
When: Friday, May 26 to Saturday, June 17
Thundercat at Sydney Opera House
Vivid Live is always the most widely embraced element of Vivid Sydney, spurring a bunch of ticketed concerts from big-name international and local acts at the Sydney Opera House. Many of them, like an exclusive performance from Max Richter, are now sold out but there are a few pearlers with tickets still available.
Thundercat is the most obvious one. And if you want some Redbone-level neo-funk thrown at you from every direction this is the man you need to see. The musician, known for both his solo work and productions for the likes of Kendrick Lamar, will perform a two-hour show at the Concert Hall on Sunday, June 4.
Where: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
When: Sunday, June 4
There is a whole heap of light installations to see across Sydney during Vivid Sydney. You’ll particularly want to do the eight-kilometre stretch called the Light Walk that runs between Central Station and Sydney Opera House. But if you want to be quick and decisive, then one of the essentials is this water show at Darling Harbour called Elemental.
Programmed for every night of Vivid Sydney 2023, this year’s Darling Harbour light show will be themed on the four elements. A series of 80-metre water shooters, flames, projections and pyrotechnics are used to bring Elemental to life, reflecting everything “from the big bang to the natural world as we know it” according to the official Vivid Sydney program.
Where: Darling Harbour
When: Every night of Vivid Sydney from 6 PM to 11 PM
Vivid Chef Series
Aside from the HERE NOW festival and some other big-ticket events like Eleven Madison Park taking over Aria Sydney (which is all sold out), Food & Drink will form a bigger part of Vivid Sydney this year. To date, the festival has been anchored by lights, music and ideas. For the first time, “Food” has been introduced as a “pillar” for Vivid Sydney, so look out for some of the city’s top operators as they curate their own experiences for the festival.
Although our top pick from Vivid’s Food program is the Vivid Chef Series, which is a stretch of collaborations between international chefs and local culinary heroes for exclusive menus. There are various seatings from June 4 through June 17 so all you’ve got to do is head to the website and book into whatever pikes your interest.
Where: Restaurants around Sydney
When: Sunday, June 4 to Saturday, June 17