Vivid Sydney: The ultimate guide

Planning your Vivid Sydney visit well in advance? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve sourced the best spots (and installations) for you to ‘do’ Vivid right.

Every year Vivid Sydney seems to get bigger and bigger. There are more lights, more walks, more crowds (erm...), and more days to explore and experience this festival of light. In 2017, Vivid Sydney ran from 25 May until 17 June, giving you three weeks to take in the spectacle.

What to do at Vivid Sydney

Vivid as you’ve never experienced it before

Vivid only comes around once a year, and honestly, how often will you see the city glowing like the emerald city on steroids? #onceinabluemoon. My suggestion? Make the most of this festival by turning it into a memorable event for you and your loved one with one of these experiences.

BridgeClimb Sydney during Vivid from Adrenaline


  • Experience Vivid like never before with a Sydney Harbour Bridge BridgeClimb while the lights are on.
  • Boogie on a 70s-style disco floor on the top of the Harbour Bridge
  • Includes a souvenir photograph
From AUD

$253 (adult)

View details

Vivid Sydney cruises

See Vivid from a whole different perspective by hitting the Harbour. Cruises tend to be inexpensive starting at less than $20 per person, and usually include a drink or food.

Most leave from Darling Harbour/King Street Wharf and pass under the Harbour Bridge toward the Opera House, letting you see some of the event's best illuminations up close.

Find more Vivid Sydney cruises and book other activities to do during the festival

Vivid Highlights

While next year's Vivid displays still remain a mystery, here's what was shown at the 2017 event, with Barangaroo being the newest addition to the Vivid mix. There was also be displays at Kings Cross.

Image: Vivid Sydney

Barangaroo's two main displays will be A Day In The Light, which is designed to make you feel like you've been immersed in a mystical universe of light and sound along Mercantile Walk. There's also Trapdoor, where you'll be transported into a subterranean world.

Much loved in year's past, once again light displays will paint the Sydney Opera Houses’ sails, and the façades of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and Customs House (best seen from the train platform at Circular Quay Station). Smaller displays lit up The Rocks, Millers Point, Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour. Newcomers last year, Chatswood and Taronga Zoo will once again join the Vivid party. Our Vivid precinct guide can help you plan your journey through the festival.

Lights for the Wild
Where: Taronga Zoo

Where: The Rocks

Magicians in the Mist
Where: Darling Harbour

Urban Tree
Where: Martin Place

The Sunflowers
Where: Royal Botanic Gardens

Birds of Lumos
Where: Royal Botanic Gardens

Vivid Sydney Maps

These official maps should give you an idea of where most of the Vivid displays will be. Simply click on the area you'd like to visit below and the section will expand into a map.





Images from Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney Activities and Experiences

Night Photography Course
Night Bridge Climb (Weekday)

Vivid food

All along the Vivid walks, restaurants offer specials to lure in visitors. While heaps of places offer doing specials and remain open later than usual, only a select few are offering something vividly spectacular for your eyes and your tastebuds.

Here were our top picks for the 2017 event:

Vivid LIVE and Vivid Music

Artists from around the world joined the Vivid LIVE line-up, with award-winning acts performing at the Sydney Opera House during the festival. Some of this year's scheduled acts include:

  • Fleet Foxes
  • Goldfrapp
  • The Avalanches
  • Nick Murphy
  • Beth Orton
  • Laura Marling

Image: Vivid Sydney

Vivid Ideas

Hear ideas from influences from all walks of life, including filmmakers and artists, as they discuss ideas with other industry leaders. Key events included The Sunrise - Founders Helping Founders, Robowars and Game-Changer: Shepard Fairey..

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

Park Hyatt Sydney Hotels
Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotels
Pier One Sydney Harbour Hotels
Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour Hotels
Four Seasons Sydney Hotels
InterContinental Sydney Hotels

What do I need to know about Vivid Sydney?

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.

What time does Vivid sydney start?

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

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.

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.

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 26 May until 17 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.

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.

Night Bridge Climb (Weekday) from RedBalloon

View details

Night Bridge Climb (Weekend) from RedBalloon

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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

View details

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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14 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    KylieJune 2, 2017

    I am arranging a bus from the Hunter Valley. Some of my travellers are going on a dinner cruise on Darling Harbour while the others are going to walk around. Can you please advise the best place that our bus driver can drop those who are walking round. and pickup those walking round. Want them to get to see as much as they can. thankyou

    • Staff
      MayJune 2, 2017Staff

      Hi Kylie,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      There are lots of the installations in Circular Quay, so this may be the best place to get dropped off for those who are walking.


  2. Default Gravatar
    HaydenMay 26, 2017

    Are there more or less Train and bus services from Blacktown?

    • Staff
      RenchMay 29, 2017Staff

      Hi Hayden,

      Thanks for reaching out to us.

      Sydney has a vast network of trains and buses across the city. You can view Sydney Trains, Ferries and Buses network maps on this page and has further information in public transports.

      Hope this helps. Have a safe journey!


  3. Default Gravatar
    kellyMay 21, 2017

    Looking for the best place to dine and see the lights.

    • Staff
      HaroldMay 22, 2017Staff

      Hi Kelly,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      If you are looking for a place to eat at the right spot. Typically, those around The Rocks generally do extend their kitchen hours during the event. You may want to consider the available option/s here.

      I hope this information has helped.


  4. Default Gravatar
    BecMay 28, 2016

    Are normal shops open later than usual during vivid? e.g Dymocks, clothes shops etc

    • Staff
      StephanieMay 30, 2016Staff

      Hi Bec,

      Generally retail shops will not extend their hours due to Vivid. However restaurants and cafes, particularly those around The Rocks generally do extend their kitchen hours during the event.

      Hope that helps,


  5. Default Gravatar
    MianMay 24, 2016

    Will one hour cruise cover the laser light & fountain show and fireworks in darling harbour?

    • Staff
      StephanieMay 25, 2016Staff

      Hi Mian,

      Thanks for your question.

      Due to safety issues, Vivid cruises will not include the laser light, fountain shows and fireworks displays as they are all over water.

      If you wish to see these displays, you will need to disembark and watch these from land-based vantage points.

      Hope that helps,


  6. Default Gravatar
    mickMay 23, 2016

    What is a “must see/do at vivid” this year??

    • Staff
      StephanieMay 24, 2016Staff

      Hi Mick,

      Please see the article above for highlights at this year’s Vivid.



  7. Default Gravatar
    GwenMay 30, 2015

    What services are available for handicapped people?

    • Staff
      StephanieJune 1, 2015Staff

      Hi Gwen,

      Thanks for your question!

      Vivid is committed to delivering an inclusive and accessible event for all and have provided many streams to ensure that all who wish to attend the event may experience it to the fullest.

      In terms of transport, there are accessible train stations, bus routes, parking and drop off/pick up locations throughout each precinct. Unfortunately, as certain precincts – such as The Rocks – are historical, there may be limitations to mobile accessibility. However, Vivid has provided an accessibility map of the area to help guide anyone with mobile disabilities through.

      For the vision impaired, there is a ‘Text to Talk’ option, which allows you to listen to a description of each light installation using your screen reader or smartphone. These are available on the Vivid website, where you will also find further information on accessibility.

      I hope this helps and I hope you enjoy the event!



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