Every year, for about three weeks at the start of our winter (late May to early June), Sydney turns into the “City of Lights” as a festival of light, music and ideas – known as “Vivid Sydney” – takes place.
Buildings and walkways around the city are illuminated with various light sculptures, installations and image projections, as well as interactive stations that passers-by can engage with.
Where to see the light installations for Vivid Sydney
The historic Rocks area, Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour, the City and surrounds host the displays and become integrated into colourful artworks around the streets. Each year the displays and images are unique creations, therefore providing a fresh experience every time. This year, in 2018, Sydney celebrates the 10th anniversary of the festival, which has grown annually with increasing popularity.
The route for the light walk stretches for more than 2 km. From the Royal Botanic Gardens, past the Sydney Opera House, around Circular Quay, and up into the Rocks. There are major projections on the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Customs House. I think my favourite projections are on the Sydney Opera House (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!) and Customs House. Here are some photos of Customs House projections from previous years. You can see the historic sandstone building transformed with new paint schemes for the evening, like Cinderella in her ball gown.
How to get to Vivid Sydney
Using public transport is the best way to see the festival if you are travelling into the city. This is because major road closures occur starting at 6 pm each night, as the lights are turned on. Most displays remain active from 6 pm to 11 pm, consequently, the road closures make driving inconvenient. The streets come alive with food stalls, and markets to accompany the light and music shows. Meanwhile, a steady stream of people flows through illuminated events, sustained by exotic street food. Infusing buoyancy into every step is the novelty of experiencing an outdoor art gallery made of light, which comes to life after dark.
Staying the night in town for Vivid Sydney?
For those of you who want to stopover in Sydney for the night after seeing the displays, I can highly recommend the Holiday Inn Old Sydney, as a fantastic place to stay. The hotel is located in the Rocks, where you will find many of the featured light installations. Moreover, it also has a roof terrace and pool. The terrace is the perfect spot to set up a tripod for some great photos and videos of the light show on the sails of the Sydney Opera House. Here are my photos from a few years ago, that were taken from that rooftop.
There is an iPhone app available which provides details of the installations, and the music events for the festival. Best of all, it provides a map that you can follow on the Light Walk, which takes you around the major installations and projections of the festival. For more information visit the Vivid Sydney website.
Make sure you have a jacket, because if the wind comes up around the harbour areas it can be a bit chilly at night, and of course, take your camera! Enjoy.
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