The Full Program For Vivid Sydney 2023 Is More Eclectic Than Ever
— Updated on 17 May 2023

The Full Program For Vivid Sydney 2023 Is More Eclectic Than Ever

— Updated on 17 May 2023
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

It’s about that time again when Sydney turns into an electric sea of light installations and various capsule festivals, with numerous concerts from big-name international and local acts as well as keynotes, discussions and food festivals.

Vivid Sydney, now a long-standing tradition, is back for its 2023 edition and the festival of light, music and ideas is gearing up as one of the institution’s most impressive in years, if the full program is anything to go by.

From the excellent compositional works of Max Richter to an eclectic festival headlined by Flying Lotus, music will once again be taking centre stage, but there’s plenty more to take in.

To help, we’ve gone through and laid out the full Vivid Sydney 2023 program in a quick, simple format so you can start putting plans in place. Tickets to a lot of these events won’t last long, with more than 300 activations and events across the 23-day festival.

When Is Vivid Sydney?

For 2023, Vivid Sydney will begin on Friday, May 26 and wrap up on Saturday, June 17. Between those dates, the city will come alive with over 300 events, concerts, talks and installations.

In 2022, Vivid Sydney was attended by over 2.5 million local and international visitors, injecting $119 million into the NSW economy according to Minister for Tourism Ben Franklin. It’s still very much big business for the state and while there’s definitely a sense of oversaturation for locals, no amount of cynicism has been able to suppress just how exciting it is to watch the city used in such a creative way.

Vivid Sydney Precincts

When Vivid Sydney first started, the unique festival turned Circular Quay into an illuminated hellscape of tourists, prams and bottlenecks. And while there’s still an element of that, especially for those relying on public transport during the event, Vivid’s wise choice to spread the festival out to other precincts around Sydney has introduced a bit of much-needed crowd control.

As such, there’s much more to see than just what’s going on at Circular Quay. These are the precincts that will be getting involved in Vivid Sydney this year.

  • Barangaroo
  • Carriageworks
  • Central Station and The Goods Line
  • Circular Quay and The Rocks
  • Darling Harbour, Darling Square and Darling Quarter
  • Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
  • Sydney CBD
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Walsh Bay

Vivid Lights

Lights are also the central component of Vivid Sydney and the reason the festival has attracted so much global attention over the years. Sydney is used as a muse for both international and local artists to curate numerous public installations, 3D projections and ticketed exhibitions to celebrate a great range of themes and illustrate various styles.

This year, there are more than 50 installations being planned for Vivid Sydney, including the popular Vivid Light Walk where free public works inspired by nature will be on display, representing 26 international light artists from 13 countries. Given it worked so well last year, the Vivid Light Walk will stretch beyond Circular Quay, spanning 8.5 km between Central Station and the Sydney Opera House with installations in The Rocks, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Darling Square, Darling Quarter and The Goods Line.

Stand-outs from the just-announced program include the obvious projections on the Sydney Opera House curated by John Olsen, a 1,000-deep drone show called Written in the Stars, and daily after-dark festival in the Royal Botanic Garden with immersive and large-scale installations peppered along a 2.1 km route.

Vivid Music

Flying Lotus will be one of the big-name acts taking part in Vivid Sydney’s music program this year.

Live music is always the most exciting part of Vivid Sydney for locals who are over the crowds. Some of Sydney’s best curators always come swinging with an eclectic mix of artists, many with concept shows. In the past, this has included four back-to-back shows from the Wu-Tang Clan and a similar string of performances from The Cure.

This year keeps things low-profile and experimental, comparatively. José González will be celebrating 20 years of his album Veneer and Cat Power will be putting on a concept show, reinterpreting a 1966 Bob Dylan performance. Those of two of the headline events, while others include appearances from the likes of Max Richter, Thundercat, Ella Mai, Weyes Blood, Hiatus Kaiyote, Ethel Cain, Sleaford Mods, Squarepusher, Kimbra, Budjerah and Devonte Hynes (AKA Blood Orange).

The Sydney Opera House’s Studio Parties are also back on the cards, throwing the baton to some of our best local labels including Mad Racket, Picnic, Future Classic and House of Mince. All of them will be curating their own line-ups for after-hours parties down in the guts of the building.

Elsewhere, there are 12 nights of free live music in Tumbalong Park with the line-up including Yothu Yindi, Hatchie, Kaiit, Ziggy Ramo and more. But Carriageworks should be pulling in most of the attention, especially with an Astral People festival headline by Flying Lotus and rounded by Desire Marea, Molchat Doma, Liv.e, Floodlights and Soft Centre.

Just so you don’t miss anything, here’s the full line-up of Vivid Music concerts so far.

  • José González
  • Cat Power
  • Devonté Hynes
  • Max Richter
  • Ella Mai
  • Thundercat
  • Weyes Blood
  • Yaeji
  • Hiatus Kaiyote & the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
  • Kimbra
  • Budjerah
  • Ethel Cain
  • Sleaford Mods
  • Squarepusher
  • Jaguar Jonze
  • Alfa Mist
  • Swooping
  • Ella Haber
  • HTRK
  • Lust For Youth
  • Croatian Amor
  • YL Hooi
  • Iceage
  • Low Life
  • DX
  • Jen Cloher
  • The Necks
  • Martha Marlow
  • Becca Hatch
  • Birdz & Fred Leone
  • Ashli
  • Maina Doe
  • Pirra
  • Jacoténe
  • Plaid
  • Ken Cloud
  • Simon Caldwell
  • Jimmi James
  • Zootie
  • Nikki Nair
  • Martyn Bootyspoon

Vivid Ideas

The other pillar of Vivid Sydney surrounds various talks and keynotes across different industries and networking events. Between this and SXSW Sydney, which is going down in October 2023, the Harbour City is going to have a massive year welcoming some of the world’s sharpest minds.

For Vivid Sydney 2023, this includes British author Jeanette Winterson for a discussion titled LIFE AND MARS: The Future of Human; Could the Ocean be the Solution? There’ll also be an immersive journey through The Rocks shaped by Melbourne-based artists and various other creative events.

Vivid Food

Food has always been a part of Vivid Sydney, but it’s never been considered a central part of the festival. Given the undying popularity of food festivals throughout the year, 2023 will introduce Vivid’s own dining program with exclusive ticketed events.

The Vivid Fire Kitchen will see various smoked meats and barbecues take over The Cutaway in Barangaroo for a new kind of meat-centric festival. Vivid Dinner will be a series of feasts from chefs like Ben Greeno and Danielle Alvarez. And the acclaimed Carriageworks Night Markets will make a return for the festival. There’s a bunch more as well, with food and wine events popping up everywhere from Barangaroo House to Mary’s Underground.

For a full list of events, dates and tickets you can head on over to Vivid Sydney’s website. Most of the line-up has already been revealed, but there are always smaller activations popping up at the last minute so your best approach – should you want to make the most of the 23 days – is to keep an eye out on the festival’s social pages.

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.


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