Vivid Sydney 2018 Family Survival Guide

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Vivid Sydney is back for its 10th year and from 25 May to 16 June will be host to an exciting program of light installations, fantastic live music shows and ideas talks and panels. Launching in 2009, Vivid Sydney is now the largest festival in Australia—and this year’s event is set to be bigger than ever. But let’s face it – all we mums want to know is what are the best, most kid-friendly bits and how do we tackle them??

Vivid can get VERY crowded. At the best of times crowds + children is a stressful combination but add the fact that it will be dark, there may be water nearby depending on your location and the lights that will probably hype the kids up… it’s full on! But whilst those factors might make it tricky, there are ways to ensure it is a fun and enjoyable event. Here are our top tips for enjoying Vivid with your family!


Where to go

There are a number of precincts you can visit to get into the Vivid spirit – we’ve listed them in order of most family friendly to least (crowd-factor weighing heavily in the decision-making process!):

  • The Concourse at Chatswood is set to dazzle again this year with an unforgettable experience for kids and adults – READ OUR WRITE UP HERE.
  • Taronga Zoo has a spectacular display of light sculptures that showcase endangered wildlife from ocean, bush and forest habitats. While this event is not free, it is really special and well organised. READ OUR WRITE UP HERE.
  • The Royal Botanic Garden will feature a number of amazing light installations. Meander along the interactive pathway of Aqueous, explore the pulsating Nautilus Forest, and submerge yourself in the rolling waves of He’e Nalu.
  • Barangaroo will transform into an illuminated promenade inspired by water, earth and fire. Those who arrive before 9pm might also discover a huge, luminescent puppet ambling along the waterfront.
  • The Rocks will feature dozens of light installations and a range of events and conferences from the Vivid Sydney Ideas program. Swim, jump and move through thousands of virtual toy balls at BALLpit, and stand beneath a canopy of 1000 Cranes which light up as visitors gather beneath them.
  • At Darling Harbour, Fantastic Oceans will combine light projections, lasers and water fountains to transport spectators to a world of shimmering corals and bioluminescent jellyfish. On Sydney Harbour, cruise ships and vessels will also light up to become part of the colourful landscape.
  • The Sydney Opera House will show the Lighting of the Sails, which transforms the Opera House into a moving, multicoloured canvas each night.
  • In the CBD, Macquarie Place Park will light up with a number of beautiful displays, including the delicate, fluttering Chrysalis.


When to go

The very 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. 


Plan ahead

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 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!