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Vivid Sydney precinct guide: From Taronga Zoo to Chatswood 2018

A breakdown of the top precincts to hone in on to see and experience Vivid Sydney at its best.

Sydney’s biggest light festival Vivid Sydney has grown astronomically since its launch in 2009. What started as a succinct display on the city’s foreshore now encompasses areas of North Sydney, including Taronga Zoo and Chatswood, and the new city precinct of Barangaroo.

With so many sections of the city glowing luminously, and this past year was no different. In this guide, we list some of the best areas of the Vivid festival that we personally love.

Image: Vivid Sydney

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Want to see it all? Vivid cruises are the way to go.

Want to know more? Check out our Vivid Sydney guide.


Vivid Sydney Taronga Zoo

With picture-perfect views of the harbour and a menagerie of animals, Taronga Zoo had all the makings of a memorable Vivid Sydney experience.

Its theme for the event is animals (naturally), with larger-than-life luminescent sculptures, conservation talks and interactive displays.

Called Lights for the Wild, it is a ticketed event which previously featured two sessions per day though has this year been upped to three starting at 5.30pm, 6.30pm and 7.30pm and running for approximately 2 hours each.

Vivid Sydney Opera House

Part art installation, part live event space, part dining hub, the Sydney Opera House is always one of the most diverse venues on the Vivid Sydney schedule.

Every year its sails are lit with a rolling display of artworks, with this year's display dedicated to kinetic visual sculptures, created by Australian artist Jonathan Zawanda.

Event highlights within the Opera House include studio parties with Astral, Mad Rackett and Kuren and performances by Solange, Ice Cube, Neil Finn, Iron & Wine and more.

Vivid Sydney Darling Harbour

Lasers, lights and wonderful underwater creatures came together in the ultimate on-the-water show at Darling Harbour.

The best viewpoints were on the foreshore, though to make an evening of it, the nearby restaurants at Cockle Bay Wharf offered a great view and places you can grab some nibbles and drinks while you were at it.

Vivid Sydney Chatswood

Chatswood has been delivering a light display for Vivid since 2015. From the train station to Chatswood Mall, the theme for this precinct for 2018 is Lightscape and is a celebration of the vast future and all its possibilities.

Starting at the Chatwood Interchange, technology and our foray into the unknown AKA space will capture and take you through to the concourse where NASA imagery is projected onto the screens.

Fashionistas can also stay on the forefront with Chatswood Chase's World of Wearable Art exhibition. Prepare to be amazed.

Vivid Sydney Botanical Gardens

When Vivid comes around you can always count on the Royal Botanic Gardens to deliver an interactive bio-display worthy of your Instagram feed.

This year's contenders include Nautilus Forest a maze-like installation that will see you wandering through spiral-like creations reminiscent of trees and botanics, corals and underwater wonders and Oasis a field of light reminiscent of flowers or fireflies in homage to Australia's forgotten children.

Vivid Sydney Luna Park

Constantly in the backdrop of the Vivid displays this year Luna Park takes makes its Vivid debut with a single display inspired by America's Coney Island theme park. New lights adorn its iconic Ferris Wheel making it a sight and experience in one.

Then, let's not forget the view of the harbour in all its lit glory, which is definitely not something to laugh about.

Vivid Sydney Barangaroo

Sydney's hottest new lifestyle and food precinct is quickly becoming the centre of attention during Vivid. As the light hits the water the precinct thrives with light installations, restaurant fare and live performers.

Pull up a chair and gawp at the giant luminescent puppet as it's manipulated by maestros of the trade right before your eyes.


Road closures

As Vivid Sydney attracts millions of visitors to the city’s precincts, there were multiple road closures around popular areas throughout the festival. Generally, George Street, Martin Place to the Botanical Gardens and The Rocks to Dawes Point were be closed from 5pm until midnight.

Wheelchair access was available along some routes.

For a full list of road closures by day see the Vivid Sydney website. Otherwise see below for major road closures in the city.


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Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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