The Ultimate Guide to Vivid Sydney

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Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the NSW Government has cancelled Vivid Sydney which was due to take place from 17 September to 9 October 2021.

Planning is underway for 2022 with the lights, music and ideas festival set to return from 27 May to 18 June 2022.

The 2021 festival would have been Vivid Sydney's twelfth outing, with 3 weeks of spectacular light displays on icons such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Cockle Bay Wharf.

Keep reading to find out what 2021's festival had in store and get a feel for what the festival might look like in 2022.

What to do at Vivid Sydney

What was planned for Vivid Sydney 2021

The Vivid Sydney 2021 program featured everything from multi-dimensional displays to projections for all the senses.

These included 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.

You can read more about the planned displays below to get a sense of what 2022 might look like.

VIVID 2021

Image: Vivid Sydney


  • Where was it going to be? Cockle Bay Wharf
  • Who made it? Atelier Sisu Design Studio

The Cockle Bay Ephemeral installation would have been one to see. It would have been the first time the bay was part of the festival.

200 bubble spheres were going to be placed on the water, changing between different colours of the rainbow, offering a perfect picture from all angles.

Point of View

Image: Vivid Sydney

Point of View

  • Where was it going to be? Corner of Playfair Place and George Street, The Rocks
  • Who made it? Brad Robson and Esem Projects

Titled Point of View, these portraits would have seen Sydney's community, past and present, illuminated from a canvas.

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


Image: Vivid Sydney


  • Where was it going to be?Customs House, Circular Quay
  • Who made it? Ho Sheung Ning

The 3D instalment named VORAX, was developed by Ho Sheung Ning and Hong Kong's Treacle Media. Members of the public could have enjoyed a narrative that followed a thief's rise to power, exploring mind-bending dimensions as he battled with magical creatures.





New York Sunday

New York Sunday

Patterns in Nature

Patterns in Nature



One Big Backyard

One Big Backyard

Vivid Sydney maps

The Vivid Sydney 2022 maps have not been released yet. However, these maps from previous years may give you an idea of the areas that may be included again next year.

Images from Vivid Sydney

Vivid LIVE and Vivid Music

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

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

Vivid LIVE at the Opera House planned to play host to artists of all genres performing.

Highlights were to 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

Vivid Sydney food

A visit to one of Australia's most acclaimed festivals requires a pit stop for dining. These are the restaurants, cafes and food trucks that pave the Vivid pathway and keep visitors well fed while enjoying the colour and lights in all their glory. Some even offer special Vivid menus and deals to make the journey through the lights that much brighter.

Vivid Sydney Food Stalls

Where: Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay & Royal Botanic Gardens

Wherever a festival is, food trucks will follow – and Vivid is no exception to the rule. For the festival, the best variety of food trucks tend to hang around the Overseas Passenger Terminal and Circular Quay. The past has highlighted a plethora of flavours from across the world, from Eastern European delights to Asian flavours.

Additionally, before you tuck into the light show at the Royal Botanic Gardens, tuck into its smorgasbord of food options. In the past, we've seen a seafaring theme, with a bar serving up drinks like the H.M.A.S Royal Archie, which is a blue delight of Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin. Following on with this watery theme were fish and chips, fish chowders and lobster mac'n'cheese.

Bring on the 2022 selection.

Vivid Ideas

Influencers from all walks of life, including filmmakers and artists, were booked to discuss ideas with other industry leaders. Highlights from 2021's planned festival included 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 planning to visit 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 in 2022 to make seeing the Vivid lights that much more enjoyable.

They usually also have some great 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?

No. Due to COVID-19, the festival has been cancelled for the second year in a row. The festival had been rescheduled to run from 17 September to 9 October 2021 (pushed back from August after an outbreak in Sydney). The festival will next return from 27 May to 18 June 2022.

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.

Can I get a refund?

Yes, organisers are still organising the logistics but ticketholders for Vivid events will be able to request a refund via the relevant merchant.

Where is Vivid Sydney?

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

  • 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 turn on at 6pm each night during the festival.

How long does Vivid Sydney last?

The festival usually runs for 23 days.

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 2009. 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 will remain the same.

Vivid COVID-19 safety

The official COVID-19 safety plan for Vivid Sydney 2022 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 3-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 42% off things to do in Sydney

Klook AustraliaKlook Australia

Up to 60% off things to do in Sydney


Get $10 off activities with code

Klook AustraliaKlook Australia

$15 off all Australian activities with code


Up to 81% off things to do in Sydney


Up to 48% off Australia experiences + an extra 10% off with code

$75: Taronga Zoo ticket with hop-on hop-off explorer cruise


Hyper KartingHyper Karting

Up to 68% off Sydney go karting


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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.


    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!


    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!


    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.


    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.


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