Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

The ultimate guide to Vivid Sydney 2024

The best things to do and installations to see for you to do Vivid right.

Vivid Sydney returns from 24 May to 15 June 2023 and will be brighter than ever before.

Expect 22 mammoth nights of ✨ light displays, 🎵 live music (Vivid Live and Vivid Music), 💡 inspiring talks (Vivid Ideas Exchange) and 😋 Vivid-inspired food (Vivid Food).

Then, let's not forget the extra stuff such as 🤳 unique experiences and 🚢 harbour cruises.

Vivid light displays: What is planned for 2024?

Vivid Sydney 2023 opening night - fireworks over Sydney Harbour

This year's Vivid Sydney is set to be a dazzling and unique affair. On top of its famous precincts such as Taronga Zoo and Circular Quay it's opened up some new and exclusive sights of Sydney.

One in particular that has made waves through the channels is the abandoned railway tunnels beneath Wynyard Station. Coined Dark Spectrum this installation transforms these underground rooms into something akin to a dance floor, filling them with light and sound.

In total there are 12 precincts to explore, each with their own unique installations and characteristics:

  1. Barangaroo
  2. Carriageworks
  3. Central Station and The Goods Line
  4. Circular Quay and The Rocks
  5. Darling Harbour
  6. Darling Quarter
  1. Darling Square
  2. Royal Botanic Gardens
  3. Sydney CBD and surrounds
  4. Sydney Opera House
  5. Taronga Zoo
  6. Walsh Bay

Dark Spectrum Wynyard Tunnels

Other Vivid Lights highlights include:

Vivid at Taronga Zoo - Wild Lights Tickets
Vivid at Taronga Zoo - Wild Lights Tickets

Ticketek

  • Love Is In The Air: This spectacular drone show is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere exploring themes of humanity, love and compassion. See it at Circular Quay on 8 June, 9 June and 15 June.
  • Lighting of the Sails. Always a highlight, this year the Sydney Opera House sails come to life dressed in the textural artworks of Julia Gutman.
  • Connection: Step into a technicolour, immersive forest of LED ropes and interactive posts designed by New Zealand artist Angus Muir. See it at Hickson Road Reserve.
  • Vivid Sydney Fire Kitchen: Featuring flame-seared street food from around the globe including First Nations tucker, this is a must-attend event for Vivid foodies. See it at The Cutaway.
  • Lightscape: Lightscape transforms the The Royal Botanic Garden into a wonderland of giant flowers, electrifying trees and glowing tunnels. This is a ticketed event that should take you 90 minutes to experience. See it at The Royal Botanic Garden.
  • The Last Ocean: This dynamic ice sheet shifts throughout the day, beginning as an iceberg of blue and white before being kicked up by your movements, stirring up the seas and changing its form. See it at Barangaroo.

Lightscape 2023: Is it worth it?

There's been a lot of chatter this year about Lightscape at The Royal Botanic Garden. It's the first year this precinct has been paid and the prices are eye-wateringly high: $40 per adult and $128 per family. The question is, is the cost worth the experience?

Finder's shopping editor Stephanie Yip went and this is what she thought.

Lit up tree at Vivid Sydney 2023

I went with my family of 3 and was completely in awe by the light displays and the musical accompaniments. Flowers bloomed above my head dancing to pop-music, a whale fluke up dived in a sea of mesmerising dots and neon lights drew a tree into reality.

As suggested, it took 90-minutes to complete the walk. This included a pit-stop for food.

On top of a unique experience, I loved how quiet the walk was. I never felt rushed or that I was clambouring to get a good angle on an installation. The walk was easy and pram and mobility-aid friendly.

With a toddler this made for a relaxing Vivid night-out.

As for the $40 price-tag? Considering the exhibit was free in previous years it's a hard pill to swallow.

To its credit it does feel as though there are more installations than usual, and they are to a larger scale. Then there's the musical curation, which is absolutely flawless.

It truly is a VIP and stress-free way to enjoy Vivid, particularly considering how crowded the event has become. If that's worth $40 to you, go for it.

Personally, I feel the cost is too steep when you consider you can hop on a cruise for $25 and visit Wild Lights at Taronga Zoo for $30 a pop.

Stephanie Yip attended Lightscape as a guest of Vivid Sydney.



Vivid experiences: Things to do at Vivid Sydney 2023

Want to do more at Vivid then the typical program of light walks and talks?

There are stacks of events and experiences from cruises and helicopter rides to feasts and tower walks so you can experience Vivid from a new perspective.

Our picks of things to do during Vivid 2023

Vivid Retro Party Cruise on Sydney Harbour
Vivid Retro Party Cruise on Sydney Harbour

RedBalloon

Vivid Sydney Harbour BYO Catamaran Cruise
Vivid Sydney Harbour BYO Catamaran Cruise

RedBalloon

Gourmet Multi-Course Dining Experience for Two Overlooking Vivid Sydney
Gourmet Multi-Course Dining Experience for Two Overlooking Vivid Sydney

Luxury Escapes

Vivid Sydney Cruise and Romantic Overnight Yacht Stay
Vivid Sydney Cruise and Romantic Overnight Yacht Stay

RedBalloon

Vivid Sydney Night Photography Workshop - 3 Hours
Vivid Sydney Night Photography Workshop - 3 Hours

Experience Oz

Sydney Harbour City Lights Night Kayak Tour
Sydney Harbour City Lights Night Kayak Tour

Experience Oz

Fully Guided Vivid Sydney BridgeClimb Experience
Fully Guided Vivid Sydney BridgeClimb Experience

Luxury Escapes

Looking for more? RedBalloon, Luxury Escapes and Experience Oz all sell Vivid experiences.

Vivid Ideas Exchange

Creators, public figures and industry leaders are booked to discuss ideas that matter.

To date 36 talks and workshops have been scheduled in for your pleasure.

A girl wearing red lipstick and red nail polish

Highlights include

  • Mike White and Jennifer Coolidge in Conversation. Meet the cretor, writer, director of the series The White Lotus Mike White and its star Jennifer Coolidge as they chat life in Hollywood.
  • New Tech: Reasons For Hope. The founders of Bardee, ULUU and Vow come together to talk food waste, plastic alternatives and meat alternatives for a more sustainable future.
  • Bloody Taboos. Sit down with a panel of award-winning female journalists and writers as they discuss physical, mental and social stigmas.
  • Queeries. More than a discussion this is a performance and celebration featuring 8 Australian LGBTQI+ writers, comedians and artists.
  • Skin Deep. Dive deeper into the cogworks of bio-hacking for the sake of beauty and self-care with a professor, a senior lecturer, author and beauty director.

Bookings can be made via the Vivid Sydney website.


Vivid Music

Over 70 live shows are set to reach our ears for Vivid Sydney 2023.

Under Vivid Music is the original Vivid Live series. This is centred around the Sydney Opera House and is packed with stars the likes of Yaeji, Budjerah, Thundercat, Kimbra, José González, Ethel Cain and Max Richter. All tickets can be purchased through Ticketek.

The wider Vivid Music explores Sydney, cropping everywhere, including Circular Quay, The Goods Line and Timbalong Park. Events can be ticketed or free.

Astral People

Other highlights of the 2023 Vivid Music line-up include:

  • Alfa Mist
  • triple j celebrates 15 Years of Unearthed High
  • Cornelius + Nice Biscuit
  • Rhys Nicholson
  • A Bend in the River: A Tribute to Archie Roach AC
  • Yothu Yindi + Ziggy Ramo
  • Christine Anu
  • Hatchie + Egoism

Vivid Sydney food


A visit to one of Australia's acclaimed festivals requires a pit stop for dining. On the plus side there's a plethora of top-notch restaurants, cafes and food trucks that pave the Vivid pathway.

Some even offer special Vivid menus and deals to make the journey that much brighter.

5 brightly coloured cocktails

Our picks of food options at Vivid

  • Vivid Sydney food stalls: Found at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay and Royal Botanic Gardens, these offer an affordable meal that's easy to eat while walking and are all part of the festival experience.
  • The American Express Light Lounge: Every year American Express cardholders (and one of their mates) are given a VIP space at Cruise Bar on level 3 of the Overseas Passenger Terminal. On top of sweeping harbour views they're treated to free live music. Available every night from 5:30–10:30pm. Details for 2023 have yet to be confirmed.
  • 6HEAD: Commanding one of the best harbourside views for a food outlet, this steakhouse is hosting a unique theatrical experience in 2 of its rooms. It also has a separate 7-course dinner offering which includes a bottle of champagne which can be booked through Luxury Escapes.
  • Sydney Harbour Cruise aboard MV Sydney 2000: While more than a handful cruises include meals the one to beat is the Penfolds Degustation dinner. Onboard you'll delight in a 6-course menu complete with Penfolds' gold collection of bin and vintage wines. Plus, you'll snag those stellar views from a premium spot. Book through RedBalloon.
  • Opera Bar: It's the best seat in the house, right under the lit-up sails and looks out overlooking the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park. Every year it serves up something colourful and this year is no different. For small bites pop by Bar Subterranean by The Midnight Special for Bob Dylan inspired music, mulled wine and truffled cheese toasties. Open from 6pm until late. For larger meals, visit the Taste and Sound of Sydney at Opera Bar for rock oysters, citrus and sea succulents and poached quince with pepperberry goat's cheese. Open from 11am until late.
  • Vivid Chef Series: Part of the new Vivid Food program, the Vivid Chef Series sees international chefs collaboate with local top chefs. The result? Unique and delicious fusion focused menus. Think baby popcorn with smoked misco and barbequed bamboo with Tascan kale. Seatings are available from 4-17 June 2023.
  • Golden Feast @ Sefa Kitchen: For something utterly opulant, head to Bondi first to dine at Sefa Kitchen. To celebrate its 10th birthday its hosting a 6-course degustation where gold is featured in every course. Running from 24-30 May while it's NOT part of Vivid it is timed and themed so perfectly that it may as well be. Consider heading here first then trekking into the city for the lights.

Where to stay during Vivid Sydney

Avoid the madness of Sydney transport and make the CBD your home base. There are some beautiful hotels in the city that usually have some great views of the lights too. Some, for example the Novotel Sydney Central is having a VIVID-themed package deal which includes a bottle of wine for the adults and soft drinks and glow sticks for the kids. Psst – it even has an illuminated ball pit in the lobby.


Hot tips to avoid the crowds and save money

  • Visit early on Mondays and Tuesdays: As they're working days they tend to be the quietest and there's a greater chance you'll have that installation all to yourself.
  • Avoid the weekends, including Friday night: They're the peak days and are often swamped with the after-work crowds, families and visitors.
  • Bring your own food: While the call of neon-lit specials is high, the price tag is also. Budget-savvy Vivid visitors can bring their own food to the festival.
  • Catch the free events: The light installations aren't the only freebies going around. There are stacks of ideas and music events strewn throughout the city that are free to attend. Tumbalong Park in particular is hosting Vivid nights throughout the show.
  • Spending the night? It's easy to have a Vivid staycation on a budget.

Vivid Sydney Walsh Bay Monad

Frequently asked questions about Vivid Sydney 2023

Is Vivid Sydney on in 2023? When is it?

Yes. After going on hiatus for 2 years due to the pandemic Vivid Sydney is returning in 2023. The festival is running from 26 May to 17 June 2023.

Is Vivid Sydney free?

Yes, Vivid Sydney's displays are completely free to access. However, events such as Vivid Live performances, Vivid Ideas talks and Wild Lights at Taronga Zoo are paid events. Extra experiences such as cruises and bridge climbs require an admission fee, too.

Can I get a refund?

No. Refunds are not available for purchased events.

Where is Vivid Sydney?

Vivid Sydney can be found in various precincts and locations across Sydney CBD. These are:

  • Barangaroo
  • Carriageworks
  • Central Station and The Goods Line
  • Circular Quay and The Rocks
  • Darling Harbour
  • Darling Quarter
  • Darling Square
  • Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Sydney CBD and surrounds
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Walsh Bay

What time does Vivid start?

The Vivid Sydney light displays turn on at 6pm each night during the festival and are turned off at midnight.

How long does Vivid last?

The festival runs for 23 days.

How does Vivid Sydney work?

Vivid Sydney is a free outdoor event held throughout the Sydney CBD. Essentially it's a giant open-air gallery. You can wander around and check out light-based displays and illuminations created by a range of artists between 6pm and midnight, when lights turn off.

There are guides available. Each attraction is signposted and explains what it is you're looking at and who created it.

Are there many road closures during Vivid?

Many roads leading towards 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. There will be increased services available during the event and the ferries will be illuminated each night from 6pm.

Can I do a Vivid Sydney Harbour Bridge climb?

Yes. The twilight and night-time bridge climbs are available during Vivid.

Do you have any tips on how to photograph Vivid?

If night photography isn't your forte, consider joining a night photography class prior to or even during the festival to capture the best images.

Where should I park?

These are the closest parking lots to the attractions. However, public transport is advised as select roads close due to the event.

For Darling Harbour and Barangaroo access:

  • Secure Parking Hilton Sydney Car Park
  • Secure Parking Kent Street
  • Wilson Parking on Sussex Street
  • Wilson Parking on Kent Street
  • Secure Parking – Allianz Centre Car Park
  • Secure Parking on Shelley Street
  • Divvy Parking on Shelley Street

For Circular Quay access:

  • Divvy Parking on Macquarie Street
  • Wilson Parking 37 Pitt Street
  • Secure Parking – Aurora Place Car Park
  • Wilson Parking George Street
  • Secure Parking – 20 Bond Street Car Park
  • Wilson Parking Quay West

Are drones allowed?

The use of drones is prohibited in many areas of Sydney Harbour. There is limited information for Vivid but we imagine the rules are the same.


Latest Vivid Sydney deals

Code exclusive

15% off every car, everyday

Code exclusive

10% off activities with code

Deal exclusive

10% off select activities

Deal

Up to 30% off last-minute escapes

Deal

Up to 60% off airport parking in Australia

Deal

Up to 65% off Sydney dining experiences

Deal

Up to 52% off Australia hotel getaways

Deal

Up to 33% off Australia holiday packages

Image: Supplied: Destination NSW / Vivid Sydney

More guides on Finder Shopping

Go to site