Vivid Sydney 2016: The 10 top events you’d be embarrassed to miss

Free up the next couple of weeks because there’s a lot of Vivid coming your way.

Since its inception in 2009, Vivid has grown to become so much more than just a light installation exhibition. Now played out over 23 days, this festival of light features music events and industry talks on top of its ever-growing list of light sculptures.

Nearby restaurants and establishments also get in on the act, with many of those along the exhibition route hosting Vivid parties between 27 May - 18 June 2016. But with so many events trying to catch your eye, you can easily find yourself lost in the dark over which ones to attend. That’s where we come in.

We’re here to shine a light and guide you through the Vivid maze, bringing you the best Vivid events to attend while you’re out seeing the lights at this year’s Vivid festival.

 Top 10 unmissable Vivid events that you need to get amongst - pronto!


1. Vivid Lounge

The Museum of Contemporary Art’s harbour terrace is perched high above the harbour and offers arresting views of Sydney covered in light during the festival. We’d come here just for the view, but lucky for us, it has been transformed into the ideal chill-out pad for Vivid attendees. Each weekend (Friday to Saturday) different DJs will spin discs for your dancing pleasure.

When: 27 May - 18 June

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, Harbour Terrace

Cost: Free

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2. Boy George

Top of the music list for anyone who’s serious about their tunes is the intimate afternoon with Boy George. Held at Cafe del Mar over the June long weekend, there’s every reason to get amongst this one. The venue is capped at 500 pax and sections have already sold out, so get your tickets asap.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

When: 12 June 2016

Where: Cafe del Mar

Cost: Tickets from $70

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3. Bjӧrk Digital Exhibition

With an already sold out opening night and after party, the worldwide premiere of the Bjӧrk Digital Exhibition is what everyone will be talking about.

Don’t be left out of the conversation. In fact, be the first to start it by knocking this exhibition off your Vivid must-do list early.

Divided into five spaces, This exhibition is the latest virtual reality project by Bjӧrk and sees her collaborate with some of the biggest filmmakers and programmers in the industry. Get excited.

When: 4-18 June 2016

Where: Carriageworks

Cost: Free

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4. Vivid Au Go Go Presents: Avant Cabaret

This year’s Vivid sees the inaugural launch of Vivid Au Go Go, a new wing of Vivid Sydney that introduces an element of theatrics and entertainment to the already packed schedule of events.

Expect everything from risque cabaret artists to bizarre circus performances as well as a Go Go girl (naturally) in this not-to-be-missed spectacle. The lineup changes with every show, so why not book a few sessions?

It’s time to pop this one’s cherry.

When: Fridays and Saturdays between 27 May - 18 June

Where: Level 4, Kings Cross Hotel

Cost: From $25

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5. Fractured Fantasies

Each year, without fail, The Argyle lights up its party hat to take Vivid to the next neon-lit level. Its Parallel Universes parties consist of DJ-filled nights themed around cult favourites.

This year we’re looking at Avatar “Escape to Pandora” (27-29 May), Wonka “A World of Pure Imagination” (30 May - 5 June), Star Wars “A Galaxy Far Far Away” (6-12 June) and Marvel “Avengers Assemble” (13-18 June). Bonus points for dressing up.

Like you weren’t going to already.

When: 30 May - 18 June

Where: The Argyle

Cost: Free

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6. MusicNSW’s Women in Electronic Music Showcase

One of the biggest events to bring music and ideas together this Vivid is women in electronic music. Comprising of four varied events, including talks by Kučka and Wafia (pictured), a round table and showcase, it’s a step in the right direction for women in music.

For those who like discussion, check out the industry round table on June 18 from 3pm. For those who want to hear what it’s all about, the music showcase later that evening from 6pm onwards is where you’ll put an ear to the women behind the music.

When: 18 June

Where: Level 6, Museum of Contemporary Art

Cost: $15 (round table), free (showcase)

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7. Media Architecture Biennale Award Ceremony and Gala Dinner

At the core of it, Vivid Sydney is founded on light installations and media architecture, making one of the highlights of the show the Media Architecture Biennale Award Ceremony.

This dinner is open to the public and celebrates the latest international innovations in media tech alongside a 3-course dinner and cruise.

Awards to be presented during the night include: Animated Architecture, Spatial Media Art and Future Trends and Prototypes. Prepare to be amazed.

When: 3 June 2016

Where: Starship Sydney (leaving from King Street Wharf 4)

Cost: From $130

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8. Robowars

We’re excited just thinking about this one. It’s become a regular event for Vivid that’s filled with robot on robot action (get your mind out of the gutter!).

All manner of robotic creations from remote controlled tanks to handmade wonders will come together in one rink to battle it out for the Robowar crown.

Who will take it out? Bets are on.

When: 5 June, 3pm-late

Where: Overseas Passenger Terminal

Cost: GA for gold coin donation

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9. Directing “The Dressmaker”. AACTA Presents: In Conversation with Jocelyn Moorhouse

There’s little that could make an evening in conversation with two of Australia’s most celebrated female directors - Jocelyn Moorhouse (The Dressmaker) and Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career) - more special than it already is. Except having film critic Margaret Pomeranz (of Margaret and David) host the event.

On the conversation board will be topics such as: “Is modern filmmaking business or art?” and “The importance of social media in promoting Australian films”, making this a truly immersive event.

When: 16 June, 6:30pm-8pm

Where: Event Cinemas, George Street

Cost: $20

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10. Vivid Cruises

Water is one of the most unique ways to experience the Vivid lights. A variety of cruises are available throughout the festival, which means you can see the highlights on fully-licensed boats with indoor and outdoor viewing areas.

Cruises tend to last for 1-2 hours and many have food and beverage menus or include a complimentary drink on arrival.

When: 27 May - 18 June

Where: Various

Cost: Various

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Vivid Cruises you can book right now

6pm Sunday to Thursday Cruise with Food + Drink
90-Minute Budget Vivid Cruise
2-Hour Tall Ship Vivid with Buffet and Drinks
2-Hour Cruise with Sparkling and Canapés
6.30pm Small Cruise with Canapés + Open Bar...
6pm Friday or Saturday Cruise with Food + Drink
Vivid Cruise on Glass Island with Wine
Private 6.30pm Cruise with Canapés + Open Bar...


Honorable mention: New Order

We think this deserves to be included in our Top 10 must-see list for Vivid because, well, it's New Order! They're celebrating 35 years of success in Sydney with Vivid and the Australian Chamber Orchestra - and the best bit is that, unlike other major acts during the festival, the band is playing multiple shows. That’s right, FOUR in total. Two classic acts and two with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Decisions, amirite?

Now why the honorable mention? Sadly, the shows have sold out completely. So if you were lucky to snap some up, we're totally jealous. If not, well, better luck next time.

When: 1-5 June, 8pm-10pm

Where: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House

Cost: From $79

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is a journalist, avid traveller and all-round bargain hunter. If there's an online coupon code, deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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