For 23 spectacular nights, Sydney will welcome over two million guests eager to experience the city’s award-winning festival of lights. This year the displays are spread out over seven precincts, with feature installations at the Opera House, Taronga Zoo, Martin Place, Darling Harbour, Chatswood, Kings Cross and for the first time the newly renovated Barangaroo. Keep a watchful eye out for our friends from the animal kingdom, who are rumoured to make a guest appearance at each location.
The Sydney Opera House
Must Experience: The iconic Sydney Opera House is one of the most popular places to be during Vivid Sydney. It’s home to the stunning Lighting the Sails, behind-the-scenes tours, a fantastic selection of bars and restaurants and the Vivid LIVE contemporary music program.
Must Eat: Q Dining serves a delicious Vivid inspired menu that you can enjoy whilst overlooking Sydney Harbour. Executive Chef Stefan Brademann has also created a Vivid kids menu, making it perfect for a family outing away from the crowds.
Must Drink: Hacienda Sydney is the place to be to be seen during Vivid. The team is serving up two signature Vivid cocktails - Isla de Ligero (Spanish for Island Light) and Arco Iris (Spanish for Rainbow) for $20 a pop. Sip on colourful concoctions while sharing a selection of Cuban inspired dishes and taking in the panoramic harbour and city views.
Must See: Opera Bar is perfectly positioned for prime views of the Sails and Sydney Harbour. Snag yourself a seat under an outdoor heater and soak up the Vivid atmosphere.
Must Experience: First Fleet Park, next to the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), has some great installations for children and families, like Never Ends - which features a magic horse that kids can ride into the light - and electric hopscotch!
Must Eat: In the heart of The Rocks, Scarlet Restaurant is serving up a prix menu that will have you wined and dined and ready to enjoy the lights. Enjoy one of four delicious dishes, including a delicious beef ragu pappardelle and their signature club burger, plus a glass of wine for only $25.
Must Snack: Those already on the Vivid trail needing a sugar hit can pick up a hot chocolate and an authentic French crepe from Creperie Suzette - the hardest decision will be choosing a topping!
Must See: The Rocks will give you prime views of the major projections and interactive installations - you'll be able to see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and you're a stone's throw from the MCA and Cadman’s Cottage.
Must Experience: Shooting 28 tonnes of water into the air every minute, Darling Harbour’s floating installation, Magicians of the Mist. will be one of the festivals main attractions. Among the lasers, fountains, jets of flame, music, fireworks and searchlights, keep your eyes peeled for a mystical figure that appears through the mist.
Must Eat: The Ternary’s two or three-course Vivid menu starts from just $55 and comes with a complimentary glass of wine or 150 lashes Pale Ale - plus prime views of the Darling Harbour lights! The family-friendly venue also caters for little ones, with a $16* kids meal including a main dish, unlimited soft drink or juice and a glow pack to help guide them through the Vivid trail.
Must Drink: The Ternary’s signature 100's and 1000's Vivid cocktail is a sell-out sensation worthy of your Instagram! Inst Sip on the colourful concoction while enjoying the Darling Harbour views.
Must Hear: On the 8th June, Colourblast Full Moon Party will take over Bungalow 8. With an all-star electronic DJ line-up, Colourblast promises to showcase the essence of Vivid Sydney in a nightclub environment, in a venue with great views of Darling Harbour's light displays.
Must Experience: Back by popular demand, the UrbanTree installation returns to Martin Place as 'UrbanTree 2.0'. The installation will transform the Commercial Travellers Association (CTA) building in Martin Place into a giant luminous mushroom-shaped tree, teeming with exotic creatures.
Must Eat: The installation 'Lux Populi' soars 10 metres above the forest floor, a ‘tree of light’ that shelters a tasty surprise. Beneath the tree, famed Argentinian restaurant Porteño will be barbecuing delicious bites using a fire pit, which will keep you toasty in the nearby bar and dining area. There will be collaborations with some of NSW's best chefs, who's delicious concoctions are best enjoyed with some locally sourced wine.
Must Drink: Soiree Bar is offering complimentary canapés from 6-8pm for all Vivid wanderers to enjoy as they sip on their signature Belvedere based Vivid cocktail.
The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Must Experience: A spectacular light trail will take you through the heart of the harbour-side gardens. ‘Birds of Lumos’, inspired by the rare Rowi species of the New Zealand kiwi, come to life as they glow and pulse with colour. The wonderful ‘Dipping Birds’ - three metre illuminated sculptures - change colour as they dip back and forth into a pond. Quirky installation ‘You lookin’ at me?’ will have you looking over your shoulder - at 5 eyeballs, watching you from their grassy bed.
Must Eat: Windows on the Park Restaurant is serving up a yummy two-course early-bird dinner from $39* per person - and that includes a glass of wine!
Must Drink: Kick things up a notch with a Vivid inspired Pineapple Sunset cocktail served from 3pm at Bar Rendezvous. The concoction includes vodka, pineapple juice, raspberry grenadine, and a splash of sparkling water, topped with Maraschino cherries to replicate the festival colours.