They say things get better with age, and with Vivid, it most certainly holds true. This Festival keeps getting better because of how fast technology is changing. If you saw Vivid a few years ago, you’re in for a completely new experience this year. Not only are the displays bigger, they’re wayyyyy better!
From drone shows to 3D projection displays to live music and delicious food, the Vivid Festival of lights takes in all the things you love about other festivals and puts them together in a well choreographed display. So it’s no wonder why the Vivid Festival has won multiple awards from the International Festivals & Events Association.
This year, Sydney is wide open, and living its best life, so you have no excuse to miss out. If this is your first time in Sydney, or you’ve been living here for years like me, this is the best Festival to immerse yourself with the Sydney CBD and surrounding areas. Take in some of the art display walks, or head out on a Vivid boat cruise, but no matter what you do, make sure you don’t miss this event.
Here are our top 7 things you should… need to do this year during Sydney’s Vivid Festival of Lights in 2023.
The Harbour bridge is in the background of almost all the iconic Sydney pictures. We drive across it every day, but have you taken time lately to walk across it? Vivid Sydney is the best time for it! As you walk across the bridge, you’ll see the harbour in a new light. You’ll get an incredible panoramic view from above to see all the art displays at once. You’ll see boats lit up and parading across the water, the Sydney Opera house projection display, the light show in Circular Quay and more.
The best place to get started is Milsons point. Take a casual leisurely walk across the 1.149km bridge. Take photo stops along the way (hold on tight to your phone, so you don’t drop it!) and then enter the Rocks via the Bridge Stairs and start your journey through the magical light display.
The whole city lights up during Vivid. With these different art and light displays happening in different areas of the CBD, you’ll experience something completely different each time you take a different turn. You’ll always have a reason to come back night after night and always find something new.
The Rocks are my favourite spot in Sydney, and when it’s lit up during Vivid, it’s much better! Everywhere you look, there is something to see. Lights project across many of the buildings, pubs are open and heaving with activity, and you’ll see many art displays as you enjoy this awesome historical part of the city.
From the opera house to Wynyard, you’ll be treated to a new-looking city from what you may see during the day. Light and art shows illuminate your path. Then, heading towards the water and Barangaroo, you’ll get to enjoy the waterfront and restaurants that have been popping up over the past few years with the development of Barangaroo. More visual displays and music events will guide you as you make your way into Darling Harbour.
Most activities run from 6pm-11pm each night during the Festival. Darling Harbour puts on a technicolour water and light fountain display with Sydney Infinity. This choreographed light show blasts water up to 80 meters high to display a visual display that will make kids’ and adults’ jaws drop.
Plan your walks and schedule your walk through the city with this interactive Vivid map.
There is no better way to see Vivid than from the water. A Vivid boat cruise in Sydney is special as you’ll get to see Vivid in a way that many others do. The cruises give you a view of the landmarks and their art displays from a new angle. The lights and visual effects amplify the reflections off the water.
Your cruise will take off from a local CBD wharf, and you’ll easily be able to slip away from the crows on a peaceful boat cruise around the harbour. You’ll cruise past all your favourite landmarks, so get your camera ready to snap a picture of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Luna park, to name a few.
You can find boats of different sizes, so if you like a small group scene of under 30 or a bigger event-style group, the choice is yours.
Remember to visit Taronga Zoo this year during Vivid for a truly wild display. This zoo is a fantastic conservation facility that has been operating since 1916.
During Vivid, you’ll engage in a wild experience amongst the lights, trees, roars and calls of animals as you take in their visual display. You’ll also learn the impact humans can play in conservation along with the lights.
This family-friendly event can’t be missed and is a beautiful unison of art and nature.
I saw this live from the rocks last year, and it. Was. Epic! It’s a mind-blowing visual delicacy seeing 600 drones fly in patterns and light up to display moving shapes in the sky.
In 2022 Paramont+ sponsored the display created by Sky Magic. This drone display took everyone through a cinematic experience outside under the night sky. You saw characters and scenes play out from your favourite shows and movies.
This year will be bigger than ever. So I’m certainly marking my calendar when the schedule is announced.
With massive crowds making their way to the city, fuel will be available in the form of food trucks, stalls, and your favourite restaurant. Last year around 650,000 people grabbed a feed during Vivid, so you know they’re prepared to satisfy your hunger.
You’ll see an open venue where you can stop for food and drinks everywhere you turn. Line up for a snack at a food truck or food stall and keep moving on to the next one. There are so many great options to choose from, so grab a bite from one, take a walk, and try another! It’s a great way to take in the sights and keep your energy as you’ll want to take in all the visual installations.
From live outdoor music shows to great bands playing in your favourite clubs, you’ll have no problem keeping warm and moving to the beat. If you love music, this is your time to indulge.
Free live outdoor shows run throughout Vivid 2023 at Tumbalong park. You can find the full schedule here. So mark your dates and get there early to secure a good spot, and make sure to dress for the weather.
If a cozy indoor venue is more your style, Marry’s Underground is transformed into the Vivid Sydney Supper Club and cranks out music all festival long.
Get your walking boots ready, and plan your trip to Sydney for an experience you won’t forget. This Festival is one you don’t want to miss. But be quick, tickets for boat cruises and some paid concerts are limited, so make sure you get yours today.
Sydney Harbour Days has partnered with some of the best boats on the Harbour to bring you an incredible Vivid boat cruise experience.
Just because you’re on the water doesn’t mean the Festival stops. While on the water, you can enjoy a cheeky beverage with a cozy BYO Vivid cruise on a catamaran or find an all-inclusive cruise, including a drink, food, and a beautiful 360-degree glass boat. These Vivid boat cruises last 90 – 120 minutes, and tickets start as low as $29. There are various options to match your style so get your tickets to a Vivid 2023 boat cruise today!
If you want to make it even more special, we have boats available for a private Vivid boat cruise. Take your group out on the water for a magical night of lights and entertainment. BYO or all inclusive options are available. Contact your Sydney Harbour Days team to find out more.
We believe planning your event should be fun and above all easy. Don’t spend your precious time browsing the web trying to find the perfect boat for your event. We'll do that for you, at no extra cost!