Returning for its eleventh year from 24 May – 15 June 2019, Vivid Sydney is Australia’s largest and most awarded festival, bringing together light artists, music makers and brilliant minds to share their creativity with us.
Each night from 6pm each evening the Vivid lights illuminate the Sydney Opera House, the Light Walk around the harbour front and the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and all the way up to Sydney Harbour, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Luna Park Sydney, The Rocks, Chatswood and Taronga Zoo to brighten up the winter nights.
With so much to see across nine precincts, what we mums want to know is what are the best, most kid-friendly bits and how do we tackle them??
As you’re no doubt aware by now, Vivid can get VERY crowded. At the best of times, crowds + children is a stressful combination but add flashing lights, a nighttime event and possibly proximity to water…it can get a little full on. Having said that, there are ways to ensure it is a fun and enjoyable event for everyone. Here are our top tips for enjoying Vivid with your family!
Where to go
There are 9 precincts you can visit to get into the Vivid spirit:
Victoria Ave, Chatswood 5:30pm – 10:30pm
Vivid Sydney at Chatswood is a family favourite (read our full write up here). The Concourse will be transformed with cutting-edge 3D projection mapping artwork.
Immerse yourself in stunning installations, create your own joyful songs sending positivity and hope, weave in and out of the ropes, run your fingers along the jangling bells among beautiful lights and soothing music.
Wednesday – Sunday | 5:30pm – 9:30pm
You’re in for a wild night at Vivid Taronga (read our full write up here). Meet a star-spangled Asian Elephant, a radiant Sumatran Tiger, the iridescent Marine Turtle and a cast of technicolour creatures – that glow and move. Opening from 5:30pm, Lights for the Wild is ideal for families, children and all animal lovers.
Session Times: 5.30pm and 7.30pm (start times only, approx. 2-hour experience)
Ticket prices (AUD): Adult $26.95, Child (4-15 yrs) $19.95, Under 4 free.
Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
6pm – 11pm
The Royal Botanic Garden will once again be luminated with glowing artistic work for Vivid Sydney, with 15 light designs woven throughout our space. Inspired by nature, Firefly Field by Dutch artist collective Toer is set to be a big drawcard for visitors. The installation simulates a family of 500 fireflies hovering above the ground, recreating the mesmerising display of their natural movement.
Entry to Vivid Sydney at the Garden is through the Queen Elizabeth ll Gate via the Sydney Opera House Forecourt only.
6pm – 11pm
Vivid Sydney at Barangaroo is a feast for the senses where Exchange Place becomes a wondrous Winter Camp.
On Thursday–Sunday evening performances, meet the six-metre tall Marri Dyin (until 9pm) who honours the spirit of First Nations women.
Enjoy light-inspired fare at all price- points from over 40 restaurants, bars and cafes.
Exchange Place and Wulugul Walk, Barangaroo. Next to Barangaroo Wharf and only minutes from Wynyard station via Wynyard Walk
6pm – 10pm
The iconic Luna Park will come alive with brilliant shapes, patterns and colours that light the Midway promenade and enhance high-octane rides such as the new family thrill ride – Volaré.
Spirit of Fun is a dramatic and emotive son et lumière celebrating the history and magic of Luna Park. A grand projection on Coney Island brings to life the artworks, characters and soul of the park and opens a window to its future of fun.
Experience an explosion of colour, light and music as A Kaleidoscopic Tale illuminates more than 3,000 LED lights on the Ferris Wheel every night to reveal the many facets of Luna Park. It is a tale woven into the fabric of Sydney’s psyche; perhaps even part of your story was written here.
The Midway will come to life with Street Performers roving throughout the night, complete with LED-lit costumes exclusive to Vivid Sydney!
6pm – 11pm
Darling Harbour is hosting all kinds of thrilling events. Think lasers and fountains, dancing lights and spectacular projections. Plus sensory rich installations to explore!
All that excitement is bound to leave you hungry and thirsty. But your luck is in, you won’t have to budge one inch from Darling Harbour. With a wide range of restaurants and bars to choose from, you can enjoy dinner, drinks and entertainment at Cockle Bay, Harbourside or Darling Quarter.
6pm – 11pm
From 6pm every night during the festival, the darkening skies and skyscrapers become the backdrop for City Sparkle, a symphony of light that plays across the skyline. This spectacle is orchestrated by 32 Hundred Lighting and features 62 pillars of light beaming from the tops of buildings along with 15 giant aqua beams and hundreds of ‘sparkle points’ that illuminate the arch and road deck of Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The world-famous Light Walk is a vast outdoor gallery of light art that stretches three kilometres from the southern end of Sydney Harbour Bridge passed the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Cadman’s Cottage and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and then along the waterfront before tracking behind the train station to Customs House and winding back along the eastern fringe toward Sydney Opera House and into the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
6pm – 11pm
Harbour Lights turns the waters of Sydney Harbour into a Vivid Sydney precinct, with many vessels moving across the water in a gentle, synchronised lighting display.
The work is designed by 32 Hundred Lighting and uses a satellite-navigational grid to coordinate lighting changes; as vessels adorned with brilliant LED lighting pass through parts of the grid, colours change simultaneously – and each little vessel becomes part of a coordinated display that moves across the colour spectrum as they move across the harbour.
Many commercial operators participate in the installation, enabling their passengers to enjoy Vivid while offering an additional perspective: the stunning light reflections that dance upon the water.
Price: harbour cruise prices vary
6pm – 11pm
In The Rocks discover playful, thought-provoking installations along the Vivid Light Walk, witness the spectacular lighting of the Opera House sails, or immerse yourself in invigorating talks at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA).
Take time out for refreshments in one of The Rocks’ renowned cafes, restaurants or bars. Then, shop under the stars for eclectic, speciality wares at The Rocks Night Markets.
When to go
The best idea is to go during the first 10 days between Monday and Thursday. The festival’s busiest nights are expected to be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and every night of the June long weekend. With a young family, it’s best to go around 5.30pm – in most locations, the lights will turn on at 6pm, however Chatswood Chase and Taronga Zoo will be turning lights on from 5.30pm.
Feeding the tribe
Obviously the fancy-restaurant-with-a-view thing won’t be happening for at least a few more years, so in the interim, your best bet is to either eat before you come, bring substantial snacks or attempt to squeeze in somewhere for a quick bite. Food outlets at all locations will be really busy, although luckily not too bad at the child-friendly dinner time of 5pm…!
How to get there
Yes, the car is warm and cosy but you’re really better off taking public transport as parking is likely to be expensive and packed! We are lucky in the Ryde area as we have access to trains, buses AND ferries (check the time of the last one home!). The added bonus of the ferry is being able to take in the breathtaking views of a lit up Circular Quay.
Labelling your kids
As a precaution, label your kids with your name and number so that if in the unlikely event you get separated you can be contacted. ID wristbands are available at Vivid Sydney Information Booths.
View maps, find attractions, plan your itinerary and stay up to date with the latest information through the Vivid Sydney app. Visit the official website at www.vividsydney.com or download the app before you head out. Although you might want to see it all, perhaps focus on 1 or 2 attractions unless you don’t mind carrying tired, cranky kids around for hours. You can always come back another night…
What if it rains?
Don’t let a drizzle turn you off – get out the raincoats, boots and umbrellas – the crowds will be less (bonus!) and the kids will think it’s a great adventure!