VIVID – Our Ultimate Guide

Everything you wanted to know!

VIVID is a three week long festival of light, music and ideas using the buildings and landscapes of Sydney as its canvas. It is now the largest festival of its kind in the world attracting over 1.7 million visitors. Most visitors are there for the light and sound shows but there are also debates and talks by leading creative thinkers. The Opera House and the Harbour feature heavily in the festival and this year are joined by new locations Taronga Zoo, The Galleries on George Street and The Royal Botanical Gardens. If you are planning on visiting Sydney at all during the year make sure you don’t miss the Vivid festival.


Our VIVID Tours

Sails of Sydney opera House Lit up during Vivid

2 Hour Cruise

Reserve your front row Vivid Festival seat! Sail around the harbour with a champagne cocktail and canapés! Take in the breathtaking sights of Sydney  Harbour while you soak up the ambience of the Vivid Sydney Light Show!

  • Delicious canapes
  • Complementary Glass of Champagne Cocktail or Softdrink
  • DJ Tunes – Party Hits
  • Multiple departures

6.00pm Cruise

The perfect time to see Vivid, the sun is setting and the light show is beginning. Cruising from Darling Harbour see the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge from the best vantage point, on the water!

  • Departs Darling Harbour
  • Complementary drink
  • Miss the crowds
  • Food and Drinks Available for Purchase

sydney Harbour bridge lit up for Vivid

Dinner Cruise

There is no better way to appreciate Vivid than a Sydney Harbour cruise with the Sydney Opera House and Harbour bridge as some of the key sights. Enjoy a delicious buffet dinner and dance the night away with the harbour lights as your background.

  • Delicious Hot and Cold Buffet
  • 2.5 Hour Cruise
  • DJ Playing Dance Hits
  • Cash Bar

Sydney Opera House with pink light painting her sails

7.30pm Cruise

Miss the crowds and see Vivid from the harbour. get a unique perspective as the Sails on the Sydney Opera House are transformed and watch the light spill off the Harbour Bridge. there is no better way to see Vivid.

  • Darling Harbour Departure
  • 75 Minute Cruise
  • Spectacular harbour vantage point.
  • Food and drinks available for purchase

Sails of Sydney Opera House bathed in light during Vivid

5.30pm Dinner Cruise

Watch the lights of Vivid as they cover Sydney Harbour as the sun sets. Where better to view Vivid than on the water and with this early departure dinner cruise you get the best view of the light show. Dine, enjoy the view or dance to the DJ.

  • Early Departure
  • 2.5 Hour Cruise
  • Buffet Dinner
  • Dance Hits DJ

The sails of the Sydney Opera house painted with faces during Vivid

6.30pm Dinner Cruise

Make Vivid a more memorable night with a Cocktail style dinner cruise. See the full 360 degree spectacle of Vivid that you can only get from a Sydney Harbour Cruise. Includes Access to the Aquatique Show in Darling Harbour.

  • Amazing photo opportunities
  • 2 to 3 Hour Cruise
  • cocktail style dinner
  • House Beer and SA Wines

Different coloured lights on the sails of Sydney Harbour bridge VIVID

VIVID Light Cruise

Enjoy prime views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as they are transformed into spectacular canvas boards of light, music and 3D projections. Enjoy a complimentary drink upon boarding. A licensed bar is available on board to keep you refreshed

  • Darling Harbour Departure (King St Wharf)
  • Dodge the crowds
  • Complementary drink
  • 75 Minute cruise

See all our Sydney tours

When is VIVID?

Vivid runs from 27 May – 18 June 2016, this is 23 nights of pure fantasy, wonderment and magic. Sydney comes alive and shows the world why everyone loves her!

In 2015 more than 1.7 million people attended the festival, I was one of them. Every year it gets bigger, better and reaches a larger audience. With the speed of developing technology, it is little wonder it gets better each year.


Museum of Contemporary Art during Vivid 2015

“Vivid is the largest festival of its kind in the world”

VIVID LIGHT – Where to see it?

There are so many places in Sydney to enjoy the visual spectacular of vivid, this is our top 10.



VIVID Ideas is titled “Game Changer” and features many well known creatives from all areas. The ideas events range from talks to open debates and the range of topics even wider. In additional to the music, light and arts topics, youth, sustainability and business ideas will all be discussed and debated. With almost 170 ideas events it is the largest part of the festival and has over 500 speakers to really get you thinking.

Trying to pick favourites is difficult as personal interest and taste play such a vital role but our top ten picks would be:-


A dress made out of light at Vivid Sydney 2015


Carriageworks, a fantastic venue for the arts, it will have a contemporary music program featuring domestic and international artists. The avant-guide artist Bjork will be a main feature.  Also at Carriageworks will be the inaugural Curve Ball, a large scale music and art event created by Fuzzy Music and featuring 8 hours of musical performances across 2 stages.

There are a total of 87 Vivid Music events over venues from the Sydney Opera House to smaller locations like the Captain Cook Hotel. Picking our top ten is another difficult task.

  • Bjork Digital Exhibition – A world premier at Carriageworks
  • Wayne Shorter Quartet – Classic Jazz with one of the best
  • Curve Ball – Featuring Zhu, Yuma X, Cosmo’s Midnight and more
  • Cosy Nook – Featuring Vanessa Wagner and Ben Drayton, definitely a left field event.
  • Urthboy – Supported by L-Fresh the LION’S at the Oxford Art Factory
  • Heaps Gay – When else but Queen’s birthday long weekend?
  • Primal Fear – In Australia for the very first time!
  • Bag Raiders – celebrating the release of their checkmate EP it is electronic pop at its best.
  • Don Walker – Illuminating the dark underbelly of you psyche, it is a country and music writer meets an Australian legend.
  • Vera Blue – In her first ever headline event, don’t miss this rising young artist.


Lifgt sculpture during Vivid 2015

Sydney Opera House

The Opera House takes a lead in this event, as the sun sinks over the harbour, the sails light up. This year it will be illuminated with the work of 6 indigenous artists celebrating the celestial songlines of Aboriginal astronomy. I can’t wait to see what the artists will create, their interpretation of their stories.

My little hint is to go somewhere to sit or have a drink as the sun sets over Sydney Harbour, nature actually starts the evening’s light show. It was magical watching the sails of the Opera House turn gold in the late afternoon sun and then the colourful show begins!

The fantastic light walk that winds its way around Circular Quay from the Sydney Opera House to Walsh Bay will have more than 60 projections and installations.  The walk is so much fun, it is interactive and the installations create a sense of wonder. I loved the Rocks Area because as you wander aimlessly around you are surprised around each corner, in old buildings, in laneways etc. I didn’t follow the actual walk or read what I was about to see, I wanted to be surprised and I certainly was!

I found it very hard to keep moving, I would stand in front of an installation and get lost in it for ages. I was so lucky because I was in Sydney for 5 nights so had the luxury of time. You have to drag yourself away from one in order to be mesmerized by the next one.  Some you watch in amazement, others will tickle your fancy and have you laughing and others let you play and that is so much fun. I loved watching the excitement and enjoyment on everyone’s face, irrelevant of age.


Sunsetting on the Sails of Sydney Harbour Bridge during Vivid 2015

Favourites 2015

My favourites, too hard to pick but I especially loved watching the moving light shows on the Museum of Contemporary Art’s building. They were so colourful I wonder what this year will bring! Custom’s House is another wonderful old building that will sure to delight with 3D projections.

As you wander down to the city centre you will get distracted along the way at Martin Place and again in front of Town Hall. I should mention near all these major works there are so many smaller installations and light shows happening all around you. Where to look is the biggest decision you will have to make!




'Light' Flowers on the wall of Customs house during Vivid 2016

New for 2016

This year there are three new precincts this year, they are Taronga Zoo, The Royal Botanical Garden and The Galleries on George Street. Imagine what they will create in these amazing locations, I know for certain they will be spectacular!

The main locations for the light walk are, Opera House, Circular Quay, Royal Botanical Garden, Custom’s House, Martin Place, Town Hall, Museum of Contemporary Art, The Rocks and Campbells Cove, Darling Harbour, Australian National Maritime Museum, Walsh Bay, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo, Central Park and Chatswood.  My suggestion is to wear comfortable shoes!




peacock feathers on the roof of the Argyle cut tunnel during Vivid 2015

Past Visions of Vivid

Nothing can really prepare you for the Vivid light show, here are some of the amazing lightscapes from prior Vivids.

The first two photos are both of Customs house, it is amazing how the perception of the building can be changed with just a little play of light!

colourful building Vivid 2015

building lit up in black and white at Vivid 2015

Museum of Contemporary Art 2014

Museum of contemporary Art Vivid 2014

Vivid Extras

As part of this guide, we will continue to expand the information to help you in planning your trip to Vivid.

Public Transport

Getting to Vivid

Vivid is a popular event across a variety of Sydney venues, why not leave the car at home and use public transport?

Known for its beautiful harbour the water is just one of the easiest ways to get around Sydney, you can also take the train, the bus or the light rail. The Transport authority has a fantastic website to help you plan your journey (

Paper tickets are currently being phased out and being replaced with an opal card (

Opal Card

The only paper tickets on sale from 1st January 2016 are single trip tickets for Ferries, Buses, Trains and the Light rail with return paper tickets not available for Buses.

You can buy and top up your Opal card throughout Sydney (, and you must tap on and tap off using the Opal card reader, except for the Manly ferry as it only has one stop. With an Opal card there is a Daily, Weekly and Sunday cap, excluding Sydney airport, so it makes a cost effective way to get around the city. (


If it is on the harbour then you can most likely catch a Ferry there. ( Circular Quay is the main Ferry terminal with ferries normally running from 6am to 1 am servicing Darling Harbour, Manly, Mosman Bay, Neutral Bay, Parramatta Taronga Zoo and Watson’s Bay. (


Most areas of Sydney are serviced by train, with connections to popular destinations including the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley. (

As with any large city trains can be congested in peak hours.


With frequent stops, connections with train and ferry services buses are an ideal way to get around Sydney. Buses are the only public transport option direct to Bondi Beach (

Light rail

The light rail network runs from Central station in the CBD through Wentworth Park, Rozelle Bay to Dulwich Hill ( The light rail operates from 6am to 11 pm or midnight on Fridays with 24 hour services from central to Star casino. (


Taxis are a convenient method for point to point travel in Sydney. Throughout Australia dialling 131008 will put you in touch with the nearest Taxi service. Taxis can also be pre-booked. Expect a few delays for taxis during Vivid


There is a range of apps for accessing Sydney public transport. There is Opal Travel (great for planning your trip and fare estimation), Real-Time transport apps (, Accessibility apps to make sure everyone can confidently access public transport ( and driving apps cover Real-Time road conditions ( and general traffic apps (



Vivid Weather

Vivid is on from the 27th May till 18th June here is what you can expect from the weather over that time.


Average Maximum Temperature 19.5 °C

Average Minimum Temperature 11.6°C

Average Rainfall 120mm

Average Number of Rainy Days 13


Average Maximum Temperature 17.0 °C

Average Minimum Temperature 9.3°C

Average Rainfall 132mm

Average Number of Rainy Days 12.5

Sydney Airport

Flying into Vivid (Sydney Airport)

If you are visiting Sydney from interstate or overseas here is a bit of information about getting to and from Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport

Kingsford Smith (SYD) is the main airport serving Sydney with separate Domestic and International terminals. It is just 8 klm from the city centre and holds the record for the longest running commercial airport in the world and Australia’s busiest airport. (


The Airport Link runs has stations at both the Domestic and International terminal and connects to Central Station, Circular Key, Town Hall as well as four other stations, with regular departures seven days a week. ( The trip takes approximately 15 minutes.

The domestic train station is between Terminals 2 and 3 and is accessed from the arrivals area.

The International terminal is also accessed from the arrivals area and is located at the northern end of the international terminal.

The train can also be used as a transfer service between the International and Domestic terminals.

An Opal card is the only way to access public transport in Sydney and can be purchased from the ticket windows at both the international and domestic stations. (

Public Buses    

Bus route 400 services both the Domestic (T3) and International terminals with regular busses to Bondi Junction and Burwood. (

An Opal card is the only way to access public transport in Sydney. (

T Bus

The T Bus is a regular transfer service between the domestic and international terminals and cost approx. $5.50. Look for the T Bus signs and purchase your ticket from the ticket machine near the T Bus stop.


This is a convenient way to get to and from the airport directly connecting with your destination. Under cover taxi ranks are located at each terminal with kerbside supervisors assisting in busy periods. Pre-booked taxis are advised if you have special needs and there is a special pre-booked taxi area at each terminal. (

Taxis are not permitted to pick up from outside these areas.


As an alternate to a taxi a pre-booked limousine service which must be arranged in advance with a pre-determined meeting point. For international arrivals there is a Limousine reservation counter in the arrivals area.

Car Rental

Six car rental companies have outlets located at Sydney Airport, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty and Redspot. ( There are rental car counters in the arrivals area of both terminals.


There are parking stations located adjacent to each terminal. For longer term domestic terminal parking there is a dedicated parking station. All these options are within walking distance of the terminals.

For domestic terminal long term parking from a minimum of one day use the Blue Emu parking station and catch the regular domestic terminal bus.

Valet parking options are available at each terminal



There are bicycle racks located throughout the airport and a publicly accessible shower at the International terminal.

Bed n Breakfasts

Accommodation during Vivid

As we discover interesting, unique or suitable accommodation options we will place them here so you can also research them and decide if they are suitable for you.

Street View of Forsyth B & BForsyth B & B

Situated just 3klm from the city Forsyth B & B makes an idea base while visiting Vivid. The spacious guest rooms have cable TV, reverse cycle air conditioning and free wifi.

A great base for Vivid or just visiting Sydney. See website

Street View of tara Guest house SydneyTara Guest House Sydney

Highly rated by everyone that stays there, Tara Guest House is steeped in history. Around 10 minutes from the CBD and with a great choice of nearby restaurants.

A great place to stay with free airport transfers. See website