Vivid Sydney 2016: The Best Bits

I’ve got to hand it to the people in charge of Sydney. Just as the days start to get a little cooler and you wonder what to do of a weekend now it’s too nippy for beach action, they put on an event as spectacular as Vivid Sydney.

Just when you think Sydney Harbour couldn't get any prettier...
Just when you think Sydney Harbour couldn’t get any prettier…

I’m a little biased but I think most of us would agree that Sydney’s harbour is one of the prettiest in the world. Well imagine its best bits dressed up in sparkles and that pretty much sums up Vivid Sydney.

When I approached Circular Quay for my first experience of Vivid this Saturday the air literally felt electric. In a matter of minutes staff had nimbly shut roads so that excited attendees could hurry towards the bright lights of the harbour. Not knowing how busy it might get Justin and I nipped around the back, cutting through The Rocks and popping out on the water’s edge near the Park Hyatt.

Even the boats get involved for Vivid Sydney
Even the boats get involved for Vivid Sydney

There are over 60 incredible installations dotted around Sydney for the festival. The walkway around the harbour is sprinkled with interactive exhibits – magical sculptures of light that react to touch, sound and even social media. I loved watching kids having fun free of charge but most of all I couldn’t take my eyes off the Opera House.

The city comes alive at 6pm every night during Vivid Sydney
The city comes alive at 6pm every night during Vivid Sydney

This year the iconic sails are alive with Aboriginal artwork. Songlines features the work of 6 indigenous artists who paint a picture of the land, sky and history.  It’s vibrant, educational and moving all at once. I could have watched it for hours.

Songlines Lighting The Sails for Vivid Sydney 2016
Songlines Lighting The Sails for Vivid Sydney 2016

Note: The animation is particularly impressive if you are near a speaker as the artwork is paired to indigenous music. Stand near the Opera House steps or at Dawes Point to hear it.

I was so enchanted that last night I went back to the Opera House, desperate to get a closer look.

Songlines Lighting The Sails for Vivid Sydney 2016
From here you can see the animation and hear the accompanying music

Shortly before lights on at 6pm I headed to the Botanic Gardens to marvel at the Cathedral Of Light. This exhibit is probably one of the most selfied sections of Vivid Sydney but that’s because it really is very pretty. A giant tunnel of light has been created along the waterfront. I parked myself just inside it at 5.45 so was in the middle when it turned on, which was pretty cool to see. It also meant I avoided the bottle neck of everyone trying to get in at 6 – a little bit of strategy that paid off for me!

Is this the most selfied section of Vivid Sydney 2016?
Is this the most selfied section of Vivid Sydney 2016?

The Harbour Bridge needs a special mention too. I recommend you get close to fully appreciate the Eora animation on the southern pylon. Created by one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies, Bangarra Dance Theatre, the giant dancing figures on the bridge gives visitors an insight into the Eora Aboriginal people and the ways that their deep spiritual and cultural connections with the land have sustained them over thousands of years. If you look really closely you may also be able to see bridge climbers ascending in flashing outfits.

Other top attractions (in my opinion) include Sydney’s Hidden Stories at Customs House and Be The Light For The Wild at Taronga Zoo. (Check out my friend Christine’s post about why Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo is great for kids.) To be honest there is so much to see you could discover something fantastic every night of the festival.

Sydney's Hidden Stories at Customs House
Sydney’s Hidden Stories at Customs House

I’d like to end with a special mention for the staff. From Martin Place to the gates of the Botanic Gardens I’ve encountered nothing but friendly staff who encourage you to enjoy the festival whilst managing the crowds with glow sticks (rather fittingly!). The whole set up of Vivid has really impressed me – from the abundance of portaloos at Circular Quay to the pop up coffee van near the Opera House steps. I’ve been on both a weekend and weeknight now and had no problems getting around at either time. So what are you waiting for?

Vivid Sydney runs until 18th June. For more information on what to see and do, including the talks and music events, check out my post on what to see, do and share on social media at Vivid Sydney 2016.

About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

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