Vivid Sydney precinct guide: From Taronga Zoo to Chatswood

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 from 2017 to get you excited for the 2018 event.

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.

1Taronga Zoo

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 was animals (naturally), with larger-than-life luminescent sculptures, conservation talks and interactive displays.

Called Lights for the Wild, it was a ticketed event with only two sessions per day at 5:30pm and 7:30pm.


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 creatures, plant life and futuristic organic and mechanistic chromes.

Event highlights within the Opera House included talks with Nick Murphy (AKA Chet Faker) and Ben Marshall (the Vivid LIVE curator), and performances by The Preatures, Fleet Foxes, Laura Marling, AIR, Beth Orton and more.


Vivid Sydney Darling Harbour

Lasers, fountains, music, fire and fireworks 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 2017 was technology, with lashings of 19th-century steam-powered machinery.

Starting at the Chatwood Interchange, over 9,000 spheres glowed and steam engine projections led you into a passageway of light culminating in a reflective pool at the concourse.


Vivid Sydney Botanical Gardens

In 2016, the Botanical Gardens hosted the instantly-Instagrammable tunnel of light.

While that installation won’t make an appearance at this year’s event, what was sure to be an Instagram hit called the Electric Forest.

It was an interactive display where light-up eyeballs glare along the grass and luminous birds enchant.


Vivid Sydney Circular Quay

One of the primary precincts of Vivid Sydney is Circular Quay and its surrounds, including Campbell’s Cove, the Sydney Opera House, The Rocks and the new precinct, Barangaroo.

Highlights within walking distance included the Vivid Light Walk of over 65 installations at Campbell’s Cove, a human light clock at The Rocks where your shadow became the hand of a clock, a trapdoor illusion at Barangaroo and Parallax and a series of stalactite sculptures that clung to the ceiling of an underground cave.


Vivid Sydney Martin Place

Martin Place encompassed an interactive space for all the senses. Light, sound and movement were tantamount to the exhibitions here and taste also played a role with Martin Place becoming a food market hub.

This year, an Urban Tree 2.0 installation was the focus of the area, taking participants deep into an exotic forest ecosystem.

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 from Wynyard onwards, 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.

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Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.

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