Clearview glass boat dinner cruise from RedBalloon
- 2.5-hour cruise
- Includes canapes, drinks and 3-course dinner
- Price per person
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.
The 2018 festival was Vivid Sydney's 10th year anniversary and with it came with three weeks of spectacular light displays. It ran from 25 May - 16 June 2018 and includes displays on icons such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Customs House. While the 2019 dates haven't been announced yet, each year's festival falls within a couple days of the previous year's dates.
Pro tip: Plan to visit early on 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 most of the crowds, and there’s a greater chance you’ll get to have that installation all to yourself. Vivid Cruises also tend to be cheaper on weekday evenings and depart after the workday is done.
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.
Once the 2019 cruises go on sale, we'll be updating this space so you can lock in your tickets as early as possible to get on the best boat on your preferred date.
For the meantime, you can check out the cruises below:
This year Luna Park and Government House made their Vivid debuts. Of the standard locations, the Sydney Opera House's Lighting of the Sails remained a perennial favourite and was a must-see on any journey through this festival of light. The 2018 display was called Metamathemagical and is the brainchild of Aussie artist Jonathan Zawada.
Here are some of the 2018 display highlights:
Image: Vivid Sydney
Custom House's bespoke display was also not one to miss, inspired by Snugglepot & Cuddlepie, which turned a century old.
And in celebration of a decade of Vivid, you could also tuck into the making of the 10th birthday cake, which was created in conjunction with Masterchef and was be detailed on the ASN Co. Building in The Rocks.
Smaller displays shall a lit up The Rocks, Millers Point, Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour. More recent newcomers, Chatswood and Taronga Zoo joined the Vivid party.
Our Vivid precinct guide can help you plan a journey through the festival.
While the displays change locations slightly each year, you can pre-organise your Vivid night out easily with these precinct maps from the 2018 festival for a rough idea of what the next one will have in store.
Images from Vivid Sydney
Artists from around the world joined the Vivid LIVE line-up, with award-winning acts performing at the Sydney Opera House, City Recital Hall and Carriageworks during the festival. Some of this year's scheduled acts included:
Image: Vivid Sydney
If you're looking for a more unique way to experience the Vivid light displays than walking around or taking on a cruise, you're in luck.
Each year more and more options open up, and this year went all out. From dance parties atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge to motorcycle side car tours of the city, there was a host of Vivid-themed activities to do during the festival.
Influences from all walks of life, including filmmakers and artists, discussed ideas with other industry leaders. Key events included Game Changer: James Cameron, IQ2 #MeToo and Game Changer: Jane McGonigal and Kriti Sharma.
All along the Vivid walks, restaurants offered specials to lure in visitors. While heaps of places offered specials and remained open later than usual, only a select few were offering something vividly spectacular for your eyes and your tastebuds.
We reckon it's pretty fair to say that Opera Bar had the best seats in the house. It sits right below the lit up sails, and looks out toward the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park. The bar always showcases something fun, neon and bright to coincide with Vivid Festival.
For more info: Visit the Opera Bar website
Expert tip: For those looking to maximise the experience, but keep the cost down, there are often food trucks galore hanging in the Opera House forecourt. Grab something cheap and on-the-go, to make the most of your evening out.
New to the festival, American Express holders got a VIP pass into one of the most relaxing spaces in the heart of the action. All you needed to do was simply flash your card at the Cruise Bar rooftop on level 3 of the Overseas Passenger Terminal and you'd be ushered into a world of panoramic harbour views and complimentary nibbles. It was open every night of Vivid from 5:30pm-10:30pm.
For more info: Visit the American Express Invites Lounge
Martin Place might be saying goodbye to its food stalls this year but take a step in the right direction (that is, toward the Royal Botanic Gardens, although technically left down Macquarie Street from Martin Place) and you'd enter a culinary world inspired by the botanics that surround. Plant-based meals, cocktails in lightbulbs and a cupcake ATM awaited hungry stomachs.
For more info: Vivid Sydney
The Barangaroo precinct was already a magnet for foodies with its array of high-end restaurants and crowd favourites. Add Vivid into the mix and you never know what to expect. Colourful cocktails? Neon desserts? The sky's the limit.
For more info: The Streets of Barangaroo
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
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.
The Vivid Sydney light displays will be turned on at 6pm each night during the festival.
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.
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.
While it's usually an 18-day event, this year the festival will be running for 23 days, from late-May until mid-June..
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.
Yes! The twilight and night-time Bridge Climbs are available during Vivid and offer panoramic views of the harbour displays.
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.
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.View details
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