The Ultimate Guide to Vivid Sydney 2021

We've sourced the best spots (and installations) for you to "do" Vivid right.

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The 2021 festival is Vivid Sydney's 12th anniversary and with it comes three weeks of spectacular light displays. This year it's running from 6 August to 28 August 2021 and includes displays on icons such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Cockle Bay Wharf.

Pro tip: Plan to visit early in the week and avoid weekends. Seems logical, seeing as they're the working days, but we do tend to forget these things so here's your hint hint and your nudge nudge. You'll avoid the worst of the crowds, and there's a greater chance you'll have that installation all to yourself.

This year's lineup of displays, performances and workshops has finally been revealed. Keep reading to find out what's going ahead for 2021 and what we've seen in the past.

What to do at Vivid Sydney

What to expect from Vivid Sydney 2021

The Vivid Sydney 2021 program has officially been released and we've got the details of what's to come (it'll have you wishing it was August already).

All the instalments have been revealed, ranging from multi-dimensional displays to projections for all the senses.

These include a Cockle Bay light and immersive sound display, the creative process of an artist in The Rocks and a 3D illumination at Circular Quay's Customs House.

As for right now, a trip to either First Fleet Park in The Rocks or Barangaroo's Wulugul Walk will reveal clocks counting down to the highly anticipated event.

VIVID 2021

Image: Vivid Sydney

Ephemeral

  • Where can I find it? Cockle Bay Wharf
  • Who made it? Atelier Sisu Design Studio

In terms of what not to miss, the Cockle Bay Ephemeral installation is one to see. The project makes it the first year that the waters of the bay have featured in the festival.

Take a step out onto the water and immerse yourself amongst 200 bubble spheres placed throughout the display.

You won't be able to look away as the two-storey bubbles float between the different colours of the rainbow, offering a perfect picture from all angles.

Point of View

Image: Vivid Sydney

Point of View

  • Where can I find it? Corner of Playfair Place and George Street, The Rocks
  • Who made it? Brad Robson and Esem Projects

2021 sees The Rocks hosting local artist Brad Robson and Esem Projects. Titled Point of View, his portraits and his process will be on display for all to make the most of.

Explore each stroke of precision and watch on as portraits of Sydney's community, past and present, illuminate from the canvas.

Robson's work has previously been displayed in Los Angeles, Berlin, Barcelona and New York.

Vorax

Image: Vivid Sydney

VORAX

  • Where can I find it? Customs House, Circular Quay
  • Who made it? Ho Sheung Ning

As for the 3D instalment named VORAX, we have Ho Sheung Ning and Hong Kong's Treacle Media to thank. Here members of the public can enjoy a narrative that follows a thief's rise to power.

Experience the character in question explore mind-bending dimensions as he battles with magical creatures.

This installation brings curiosity and challenges together with visual arts and animation.

Holi

Holi

Kin

Kin

New York Sunday

New York Sunday

Patterns in Nature

Patterns in Nature

Shard

Shard

One Big Backyard

One Big Backyard

Things to do at Vivid Sydney 2021

As Vivid Sydney continues to inch closer, we've got a round up of our favourite events and programs.

  1. Do the Twilight Bridge Climb: If getting one of the best views of the city is the aim, you've found it. Make your way to the top of the Harbour Bridge as you take in all the magnificent lights reflecting throughout the city.
  2. Create smiles at Luna Park: Bring the kids down for a Vivid experience like no other. Nine new rides spanning across the age ranges will be ready and waiting for you and the family. Score the best Vivid seats on the new Big Dipper, a world-first with its incline seating.
  3. Dress up for the Heaps Gay Qween's Ball: Also located at Luna Park, this sequin-infused event sees over 20 acts come together for a night to remember. Expect art, fancy dress and a whole lot of dancing.
  4. Laugh with Jameela Jamil: Tune in with renowned feminist Jameela Jamil for an evening exploring her thoughts on body positivity and mental health. For this one you're going to want to head down to Sydney Town Hall.
  5. Dine and drink at Hacienda's: Nestled right beside the Sydney Opera House, grab your friends for a night of delightful cocktails as you overlook the Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay.
  6. Be a little Unorthodox: Discuss all things conspiracy with Sarah Wilson, author of This One Wild and Precious Life and Dr Norman Swan at The Australian Museum. Do one better and stay for a stroll in the museum after dark, post-program.
  7. Get connected with Magda Szubanski and Julia Baird: From the author who showed us what it meant to be phosphorescent and the renowned comedian who has brought us laughs for decades, learn of nature's (and art's) healing powers with this must-see conversation.
  8. Walk on water at Ephemeral: It might just be one of the most anticipated installations of Vivid 2021 and for good reason. Immerse yourself amongst the 200 luminescent bubbles in Cockle Bay.
  9. Step back in time with Shard: A treat for the senses is brought to Sydney's shores, thanks to Baykali Ganumbarr, Yalyalwuy Gondarra and Watjarr (Marko) Garmu. Situated in The Rocks, explore light sculptures that bring Dreamtime stories to life.
  10. Head out onto the water: Climb aboard for champagne, seafood platters and VIVID as your view. Dine on oysters, smoked salmon blinis, prawns and calamari in the lounge-bar as the VIVID Lights pass you by.

Can't wait until Vivid 2021? Check out Sydney Solstice

Ice Rink

For those of you who are patiently awaiting Vivid's 2021 return, have we got a treat for you.

Presenting, Sydney Solstice: a two-week festival running between 8 and 20 June 2021, filled with all things winter wonderland.

Highlights include an ice skating rink located at the International Convention Centre, live performances, a winter foodie market in Tumbalong Park and fireworks in Darling Harbour.

For the best view in the city, be sure to lock in a waterfront restaurant in Darling Harbour for uninterrupted scenes of the fireworks.

Vivid Sydney maps

The Vivid Sydney 2021 maps have not been released yet. However, these maps from previous years could give you an idea of the areas that may be included again this year.

Images from Vivid Sydney

Vivid LIVE and Vivid Music

Over 50 live shows are set to reach our ears during Vivid Sydney 2021. Expect traditional performances and unique experiences at Hyde Park Barracks, The Calyx (Royal Botanic Garden), Luna Park, The Bearded Tit and Parliament House.

The performances range from neo-soul R&B and adults-only cabaret shows to hip-hop and punk rock.

Vivid LIVE at the Opera House is hosting its share of talent this year, with artists of all genres performing.

Highlights include Sampa The Great who is a Zambian-born poet, singer and visual artist as well as African-Australian singer and producer, BLESSED.

Akosia

Image: Vivid Sydney


Vivid Sydney activities and experiences

If you're looking for a more unique way to experience the Vivid light displays than walking around, you're in luck.

Each year more and more options open up. In 2021 there are cruises across Sydney Harbour and private yacht sailings for those of you after a luxury experience.

Vivid Cruise and Overnight Luxury Yacht Stay with Dinner
Vivid Cruise and Overnight Luxury Yacht Stay with Dinner

RedBalloon

Vivid Sydney Penfolds 6 Course Degustation Dinner Cruise
Vivid Sydney Penfolds 6 Course Degustation Dinner Cruise

RedBalloon

Vivid Ideas

Influencers from all walks of life, including filmmakers and artists, discuss ideas with other industry leaders. Highlights from this year's upcoming festival include exploring self-acceptance with Jameela Jamil, the role of nature in healing with Magda Szubanski and Julia Baird, music with Nat's What I Reckon, Sarah Wilson and Dr Norman Swan on misinformation and conspiracy theories and Sandra Pankhurst on reinvention and the need for empathy in our world.


Where to stay during Vivid Sydney

Are you visiting Sydney just to see the Vivid lights? (We don’t blame you.) Or, perhaps you want to avoid the madness that is Sydney transport by making the CBD your home base for the evening? Whatever your reasons, there are some beautiful hotels in the city you can check into to make seeing the Vivid lights that much more enjoyable.

They also have some kickass views of the lights, too. #winning


What do I need to know about Vivid Sydney?

Is Vivid Sydney on in 2021? When is Vivid Sydney?

Yes, Vivid Sydney is running once again this year. Due to COVID-19, the festival is on from 6 to 28 August 2021, instead of the usual May schedule.

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, you'll need to pay for admission to those attractions.

Where is Vivid Sydney?

The highly anticipated event can be found across Sydney's CBD. Exhibits can be found in:

  • Circular Quay
  • The Rocks
  • Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Darling Harbour
  • Taronga Zoo

What time does Vivid Sydney start?

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

How long does Vivid Sydney last?

The festival runs for 23 days from early to late August.

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 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.

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 throughout the city, it's recommended to take public transport to Vivid. There will be increased public transport services available during the event, and the ferries will be illuminated each night from 6pm.

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.

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.

Where to park for Vivid Sydney?

Keep in mind that not all streets will be open to vehicles. Below you'll find the closest parking lots to the attractions but public transport is advised. We will update this list as more information on road closures becomes available.

For Darling Harbour and Barangaroo access:

  • Secure Parking Hilton Sydney Car Park
  • Secure Parking Kent Street
  • Wilson Parking on Sussex Street
  • Wilson Parking on Kent Street
  • Secure Parking – Allianz Centre Car Park
  • Secure Parking on Shelley Street
  • Divvy Parking on Shelley Street

For Circular Quay access:

  • Divvy Parking on Macquarie Street
  • Wilson Parking 37 Pitt Street
  • Wilson Parking George Street
  • Wilson Parking Quay West
  • Secure Parking – Aurora Place Car Park
  • Secure Parking – 20 Bond Street Car Park

Are Vivid Sydney drones allowed?

The use of drones is prohibited in many areas of Sydney Harbour. Although there is limited information for Vivid specifically, we imagine the rules remain the same.

Vivid COVID-19 safety

The official COVID-19 safety plan for Vivid Sydney 2021 is yet to be released. We will update this section as soon as more information becomes available.

Latest Vivid Sydney deals

With dozens of cruises sailing on the harbour, waterside restaurants with views of the lights or themed menus, hotel rooms overlooking the displays and so much more, there are endless ways to make the most of Vivid Sydney's three-week run time.

Luckily, enjoying the brilliant displays doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. These deals will help you make the most of Vivid for less.

AgodaAgoda

Up to 80% off Vivid Sydney stays

Ends

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Extra 10% off Vivid Sydney cruise with dinner

Ends

KlookKlook

Extra 10% off Sydney activities

Ends

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Get $10 off Vivid Sydney experiences

Ends

Priceline.comPriceline.com

Up to 63% off Sydney stays

Ends

CudoCudo

Up to 60% off Vivid Sydney cruise with canapes or dinner

Ends

KlookKlook

Extra 10% off Sydney getaways

Ends

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Get $10 off Vivid Sydney private cruise for 2 with code

Ends


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26 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    ChristineMarch 26, 2019

    best parking for Darling Harbour view?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiMarch 27, 2019

      Hi Christine,

      Thanks for getting in touch! As of this time, our page doesn’t show parking spaces for the Darling Harbour view. You can definitely find information on this by searching “parking spaces for Darling Harbor view” on your preferred search engines.

      Hope this clarifies.

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    lrizunJanuary 14, 2019

    Do we have dates yet for 2019 vivid. Any idea if the event is happening or not or when the dates will be out?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJanuary 15, 2019Staff

      Hi Irizum,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      The dates for Vivid Sydney 2019 have not been released as of this writing. You may visit Vivid Sydney’s official page and sign up to My Vivid to get more info on this.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    MaryJanuary 14, 2019

    Has the date been set for this years vivid event? I am trying to plan a visit to Sydney in May and keen to know the dates so I can book flights from NZ.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJanuary 15, 2019Staff

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      The dates for Vivid Sydney 2019 have not been released as of this writing. Vivid Sydney was held on 25 May 2018 – 16 Jun 2018 and on 26 May 2017 – 17 June 2017.

      You may visit Vivid Sydney’s official page and sign up to My Vivid to get more info on this.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    MichelleJuly 31, 2018

    By subscribing to the Finder newsletter, will I be updated (via the newsletter) once the 2019 dates are released, please?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezJuly 31, 2018Staff

      Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your comment.

      You’ll definitely be updated when you sign up for Finder’s newsletter. You’ll be notified via email the latest deals across shopping, money, tech and more.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

    Default Gravatar
    leoneMay 26, 2018

    Will there be extra train services on the South Coastline to Wollongong?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMay 27, 2018Staff

      Hi Leone,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Trains on most lines to city circle stations run frequently on weekdays and every 10 to 15 minutes on weekends.

      Extra services will run on the weekends to help large crowds get to and from the city and between the Vivid Sydney precincts.

      On Fridays, additional late-night trains will run on the T2 Inner West & Leppington Line. On weekends, additional services will run on the T2 Inner West & Leppington Line and the T8 Airport & South Line.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jeni

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