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
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.
Image: Vivid Sydney
- 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.
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.
Image: Vivid Sydney
- 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.
New York Sunday
Patterns in Nature
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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
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.
Image: Vivid Sydney
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 Sydney Lights Evening Cruise
Vivid Cruise and Overnight Luxury Yacht Stay with Dinner
3 Course Dinner with Vivid Cocktails
Vivid Sydney Penfolds 6 Course Degustation Dinner Cruise
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.
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
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Harbour Marriott
Pier One Sydney Harbour
Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour
Four Seasons 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.
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.
Up to 80% off Vivid Sydney stays
Available on stays from August - September 2021. Includes breakfast and free cancellation on select hotels.
Extra 10% off Vivid Sydney cruise with dinner
Available on cruises in August 2021 when you book 2 or more vouchers. Includes a 3-course dinner.
Extra 10% off Sydney activities
Available until 31 August 2021, including during Vivid Sydney Festival, on activities such as hot air balloon flights, whale watching cruises, Sydney Opera House tours, attraction passes and more. T&Cs apply.
Get $10 off Vivid Sydney experiences
Available from 6-28 August 2021 on activities including cruises, skywalks and more. Minimum spend of $300 required.
Up to 63% off Sydney stays
Available on select travel dates until December 2021, include during Vivid Sydney Festival dates. Sample stay is at Meriton Suites Campbell Street.
Up to 60% off Vivid Sydney cruise with canapes or dinner
Available on select dates from 8-28 August 2021 for a 1.5 to 3-hour cruise.
Extra 10% off Sydney getaways
Available on stays until 31 August 2021, including during Vivid Sydney Festival, when you use the code. T&Cs apply.
Get $10 off Vivid Sydney private cruise for 2 with code
Available from 6-28 August 2021 for a 1-hour cruise and a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine. Minimum spend of $300 required. T&Cs apply.
Get $5 off Vivid Sydney dinner cruise
Available on select dates from 6-28 August 2021. Includes a 6-course dinner and drinks. Minimum of $250 required. T&Cs apply.
Vivid Sydney: Up to 38% off 2-hour cruise with dinner + drink
Available on Sundays - Tuesdays from 8-24 August 2021.
Up to 40% off Vivid Sydney hop-on hop-off cruise experience
Available on select dates August - September 2021 for a 1 or 2-day pass.
Vivid Sydney: Up to 55% off half-day whale watching cruise
Available on select dates in August 2021 for a 4-hour cruise. Includes breakfast or lunch.
Sydney: Up to 42% off whale watching cruise
Available from June - October 2021, including Vivid Sydney dates.
Up to 51% off Vivid Sydney 45-minute cruise
Available from 6-28 August 2021 with Thunder Jet.
Up to 20% off BYO Vivid Sydney Festival cruise
Available from 6-28 August 2021 for a 90-minute experience.
Up to 25% off Vivid Sydney dinner cruise
Available from 6-28 August 2021 for a 90-minute cruise with Sydney Harbour Tall Ships.
Up to 40% off 2-hour Vivid Sydney cruise with dinner and drinks
Available from 6-28 August 2021.
Vivid Sydney: Up to 50% off cruise + drink
Available from 6-28 August 2021 with with Go Whale Watching for a 1-hour cruise
Up to 57% off Vivid Sydney cruise with Constellation Cruises
Available for a 90-minute cruise from 6-28 August 2021 and includes a welcome drink.
Up to 24% off 3-hour retro party Vivid Sydney cruise
Available on Fridays in August 2021 and includes finger foods and hot drinks.
Save up to 40% off Sydney attractions
Passes are valid for 12 months. Includes skip the lines at popular attractions including Taronga Zoo, Jenolan Caves, SEA LIFE Aquarium, whale watching cruises, Vivid Sydney cruises and more. T&Cs apply.
$89: Taronga Zoo ticket with hop-on hop-off explorer cruise
Available from June 2021 - March 2022, including through Vivid Sydney.
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium tickets from $39
Available on tickets until December 2021, including during Vivid Sydney dates.
Up to 25% off Sydney hop-on hop-off bus tours
Available on tours until March 2022, including during Vivid Sydney Festival dates.
Up to 52% off Sydney combo attraction pass
Available until November 2021, including during Vivid Sydney, for 3 attraction passes. Includes WILD LIFE Sydney, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Tower Eye or Madame Tussauds Sydney.
Up to 50% off Sydney whale watching experience with lunch
Available on select dates until November 2021, including during Vivid Sydney, for a 4-hour cruise.
Sydney: Up to 23% off movie with dinner experience for 2
Available on Thursday - Sunday until 9 September 2021, including Vivid Sydney Festival dates. Package includes an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet dinner.
$109: 2-hour tail ship lunch cruise experience in Sydney
Available on select dates until December 2021, including Vivid Sydney Festival.
Sydney: Tail ship cruise experience from $54
Available on select dates until December 2021, including Vivid Sydney Festival.
Up to 35% off SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium tickets
Plus get an extra 10% off until 31 August 2021, including during Vivid Sydney Festival dates, when you use the code. T&Cs apply.
Up to 73% off Vivid Sydney cruise with drinks
Available from 8-28 August 2021 for a 90-minute cruise.
Vivid Sydney: Up to 11% off small group catamaran cruise
Available on Thursdays to Sundays from 6-28 August 2021 and includes snacks.
$39: Vivid Sydney Harbour Lights cruise
Available from 6-28 August 2021 for a 1-hour Sydney cruise with Captain Cook.
Up to 11% off BYO Vivid Sydney cruise
Available from 6-28 August 2021 for a 90-minute catamaran cruise with snacks.
Vivid Sydney helicopter flight experience from $400
Available from 6-28 August 2021 for a 25-minute flight.
Up to 11% off Vivid Sydney catamaran cruise with snacks
Available on select dates from 6-28 August 2021 for a 90-minute cruise.
Sydney: Up to 40% off The York by Swiss-Belhotel stays for 2
Available on select stay dates until January 2022, including through Vivid Sydney Festival. Includes a complimentary bottle of wine.
Up to 50% off glass boat Vivid Sydney cruise with dinner
Available from 6-28 August 2021 for a 2-hour cruise. Includes dinner and a welcome drink.
Melbourne getaways from $79 per night
Available on stays from June - December 2021, including during Vivid Sydney dates. Sample stay is at ibis budget Dandenong.
Sydney getaways from $85 per night
Available on stays from June - December 2021, including during Vivid Sydney dates. Sample stay is at ibis budget Sydney East.
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