Best Vivid Sydney Cruises for 2019

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

Vivid Sydney lights up the city’s foreshore each winter since it began in 2009 with the display getting 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 attract more than 1.7 million visitors.

Spreading from Darling Harbour and Barangaroo, under a lit-up Harbour Bridge, to The Rocks and Circular Quay, many of the Vivid festival’s displays take on a whole new perspective from the water, and joining a Vivid Sydney cruise is a great way to see the event’s displays without the walking and crowds.

The 2018 event ran from 25 May - 16 June, and while the 2019 dates haven't been released, you can expect them to fall around the same time period.

The 2019 cruises haven't gone on sale yet, but as soon as they do, we'll update this space. In the meantime, we've picked out some of our favourite nighttime harbour cruises that you can take until Vivid starts again.

Clearview glass boat dinner cruise

Clearview glass boat dinner cruise from RedBalloon

  • 2.5-hour cruise
  • Includes canapes, drinks and 3-course dinner
  • Price per person
From AUD


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Dinner and dancing cruise for two

Dinner and dancing cruise for two from RedBalloon

  • Includes 3-course dinner and wine
  • Price is for two
From AUD


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Sydney Harbour dinner cruise

Sydney Harbour dinner cruise from RedBalloon

  • 3-hour cruies
  • Includes dinner buffet and 3 alcoholic beverages
  • Price per person
From AUD


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Vivid Sydney cruises

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 the official operators that have joined the festivities in the past.

  • 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

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, Barangaroo and Darling Harbour (with smaller displays in other parts of the city), Vivid is a giant open-air gallery. It's a free event where you can walk around and see light-based displays and illuminations created by a range of artists. There are guides available and each attraction is signposted with explanations of what it is you're looking at.

Is Vivid Sydney free?

Yes, Vivid Sydney's displays are free to access. If you'd like to join a cruise or bridge climb, you'll need to pay for admission.

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 this year, from 25 May - 16 June 2018.

When did Vivid Sydney start?

Vivid Sydney has been lighting up the Sydney foreshore since 2008. 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 or King Street Wharf, so you'll get the chance to wander around the area before and after your cruise. It's best to check with the operator you've booked your cruise with to see where and when you need to meet the boat.

Are there Vivid dinner cruises available?

There are a wide range of sightseeing cruise options available offering 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 are 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 increase number of public transport services available during the event and ferries will be illuminated 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 or during the festival to capture the best images.

Night Photography Course

Night Photography Course from

Perfect your nighttime photography skills and use the brilliantly coloured Vivid displays as your inspiration.This three-hour lesson meets in The Rocks at 5:30pm each Friday and will help you master composition, shoot in manual mode, control ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

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What is next?

Image: Vivid Sydney

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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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    kathJuly 1, 2017

    When does the Vivid Festival run from for 2018?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJuly 1, 2017

      Hi Kath!

      The announcement left on Vivid Sydney website is they will be opening later this year.

      Hope this helps.


  2. Default Gravatar
    April 29, 2017

    Hi wanted to know what cruises they have for vivid that is buffet dinner and dance floor DJ on board???

    • finder Customer Care
      LouMay 4, 2017Staff

      Hi Sam,

      Thanks for your questions.

      All the cruises we have listed above except for 90-Minute Cruise with Sparkling Wine on a Sunday, Friday or Saturday and 2-hour cruise with canapés and drinks from LivingSocial, offer buffet dinner.

      However, upon checking the details, only the 2-hour cruise with cocktails and canapés which costs $29.00 offer buffer dinner and DJ. For more details, simply click the “view details’ button above.


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