Best Vivid Sydney cruises 2017

Get the best views of the festival of light aboard a Vivid Sydney cruise.

Vivid Sydney has lit up the city’s foreshore each May and June since 2009, with the display getting larger and larger each year. The grand illuminations on the Sydney Opera House sails, interactive displays found throughout Circular Quay and the smaller unique displays lining the piers at Walsh Bay now attract more than 1.7 million visitors.

Spreading from Darling Harbour and Walsh Bay, under an illuminated Harbour Bridge, to The Rocks and Circular Quay, many of the Vivid festival’s displays can be seen from the water. Joining a Vivid Sydney cruise is a great way to get in most of the event’s displays without all the walking and away from all the crowds.

Image: Vivid Sydney

When is the Vivid Sydney festival this year? 27 May - 18 June

Top picks for Vivid Sydney cruises and deals in 2017

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...

Every year, dozens of boats sail the harbour aglow with brightly coloured lights and become part of the Vivid Sydney display. Sydney Harbour Ferries get in on the action too. If you're hoping to join a boat tour during Vivid that participates, these are all the operators that are officially joining in on the festivities.

  • Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Culture Cruise
  • Magistic Dinner Cruise
  • Sydney Showboat Dinner Cruise
  • Showboat Paddlewheel
  • Oz Jet Boating
  • Manly Fast Ferry
  • Sydney Cove Water Taxis
  • Sydney's First Fleet Ferries
  • Captain Cook Cruises
  • Sensational Sydney Cruises
  • Fantasea Cruising Sydney
  • Shadow Charters

Other Vivid Sydney activities

If you’re not tempted by a cruise during Vivid, consider joining a photography class, attending a Vivid Ideas event or dining at a restaurant with views of the illuminations.

4-Hour Vivid Photography Workshop
Behind-the-scenes Opera House tour during Vivid
2-Hour Vivid Sydney Walking Tour
Night Photography Course
Waterfront Buffet Dinner during Vivid

What do I need to know about Vivid Sydney and Vivid Sydney cruises?

How does Vivid Sydney work?

Being a free event throughout Circular Quay, The Rocks, Martin Place, Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour (with smaller displays in other parts of the city), Vivid is like a giant open-air gallery. It's a free event where you can walk around and check out light-based displays and illuminations created by a range of artists. There are guides available and each attraction is signposted and explains what it is you're looking at and who created it.

Is Vivid Sydney free?

Yes, Vivid Sydney's displays are completely free to access. However, if you'd like to join a cruise or bridge climb, then you'll need to pay for admission to those attractions.

How long does Vivid Sydney go for?

While it's usually an 18-day event, this year the festival will be running for 23 days, from 27 May until 18 June.

When did Vivid Sydney start?

Vivid Sydney has been lighting up the Sydney foreshore since 2009. It began as a light festival promoting energy efficiency with light paintings displayed on the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

What time does Vivid sydney start?

The Vivid Sydney light displays will be turned on at 6pm each night during the festival.

Do Vivid Sydney cruises go to Darling Harbour?

Yes. Most of the sightseeing cruises during Vivid depart from Darling Harbour/King Street Wharf, so you'll get the chance to wander around the area before and after your cruise. It's best to check directly with the operator you've booked your cruise with to see exactly where you need to meet the boat and when.

Are there Vivid dinner cruises available?

There's a wide range of sightseeing cruise options available during the festival, and something for every budget. We've noted on each sailing above whether food or drink is included.

Are there many Vivid Sydney road closures?

Many roads leading toward Circular Quay and The Rocks will be closed or restricted during the event. Given those limitations, and the road closures along George Street, it's recommended to take public transport to Vivid. There will be an extra 3,500 public transport services available during the event, and the ferries will be illuminated each night from 6pm.

Can I do a Vivid Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb?

Yes! The twilight and night-time Bridge Climbs are available during Vivid and offer panoramic views of the harbour displays.

Do you have any tips on how to photograph Vivid Sydney?

If night photography isn't your forte, consider joining a night photography class prior to the festival, or even during the festival to try and capture the best images.

Night Photography Course from

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Alex Keshen

Alex takes care of the travel section here at If there's a new sale on tours or cruises, discounted flights or hotels, or anything else that can be on offer, she'll fill you in.

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