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Vivid Sydney Returns For A 10th Year - What Should You See?

Ben Hall

Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas, is back again for its 10th year beginning on May 25 featuring a stellar festival lineup set to wow and dazzle. Among the highlights will be ever popular Customs House, which will celebrate the 100th birthday of May Gibbs’ classic characters, Snugglepot & Cuddlepie, with a gorgeous animation, also Vivid’s Sydney’s Harbour footprint will be enhanced with Luna Park joining as a new precinct, and all eyes will turn to the Sydney Opera House thanks to an amazing projection across the sails for the 10th anniversary. Here’s a rundown of the best of what to see across the three key areas of Vivid.

The Light Festival 

For the first time in Luna Park will join the Vivid party and come alive with a large-scale projection on the façade of Coney Island, as well as the park’s iconic Ferris Wheel being lit for the festival following a refit. Vivid Sydney’s bright lights will illuminate the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney again in 2018, where visitors can follow a pathway through an exciting nocturnal environment inspired by nature. In addition to Sydney Opera House being at the centre of the Vivid Light Walk for Lighting of the Sails, created in 2018 by award-winning Australian artist Jonathan Zawada, a number of Sydney’s iconic buildings will also be transformed, including the façade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) with Virtual Vibration, a highly collaborative creative work produced in conjunction with MCA Collection artist Jonny Niesche and composer Mark Pritchard. Taronga Zoo’s Lights for the Wild will likely be another highlight, where visitors will discover some new spectacular animal light sculptures, and learn how Taronga is working to help save 10 species from extinction over the next 10 years. An art-meets-technology water fountain, light and laser experience takes visitors to Darling Harbour through a dream-like dive under the ocean, while the iconic rooftop of the Australian National Maritime Museum will be projected with BBC Earth and Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, exploring the fascinating world beneath the waves. Meanwhile in Chatswood, a pop-up market inspired by the colourful neighbourhood street markets of Brazil, and built from scaffold and recycled materials and lit by lasers, will transform the CBD.

Vivid Live

Live music has always been a key part of the Vivid Festival, and 2018 ups the ante with a lineup up acts from noise to jazz, and sonic experimentation to soul. Highlights include a performance by Grammy award winning rock-goddess St. Vincent, and the return of Curve Ball headlined by Alison Wonderland – a large-scale live music and art event created by the team behind Field Day, Harbourlife and Listen Out – both at Carriageworks. The City Recital Hall returns in 2018, tracking the rise in jazz with the Innovators In Jazz series featuring the undisputed king, triple Grammy award-winner saxophonist Branford Marsalis. And the world’s finest jazz vocalists, including Kurt Elling and chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux, will line up alongside Orange is the New Black star, Lea Delaria, in her musical comedy, jazz interpretation show. Meanwhile over at Sydney Opera House there is a stellar line-up of Australian exclusives, including several Opera House debuts. Highlights include American dream-pop icons Mazzy Star, the godfather of West Coast rap Ice Cube, acclaimed 90s indie rock singer/songwriter Cat Power, Grammy award-winning artist Solange, and the long-awaited collaboration between iconic Australian artists Daniel Johns and Luke Steele. Now in its 4th year as part of Vivid Sydney, Heaps Gay struts uptown to Sydney Town Hall for an unmissable experience, the inaugural Qween’s Ball. Other not-to-be missed events include Young Hearts Run Free and one of Australia’s most exciting breakthrough artists performing at the Enmore Theatre, Vera Blue. Also returning to Vivid Music in 2018 is X|Celerate, a partnership between Vivid Sydney and the City of Sydney to enliven music venues across town. 

Vivid Ideas 

Vivid Ideas provides a forum to workshop, collaborate and cultivate fresh thinking to drive the creative agenda across tech, design, entertainment and culture, and it returns in 2018 with some of the world’s greatest minds to explore futureshaping scenarios. Game changers and creative catalysts this year include film-maker, marine explorer and conservationist James Cameron, who will explore his passion for science and technology, and how it has influenced his work as a film director and environmentalist. Futurist and game developer, Jane McGonigal, can prove games have the power transform our real world lives, and along with Artificial Intelligence expert Kriti Sharma, she will join Vivid Ideas to explore the latest in AI, VR and gaming to ask what kind of society we can create with technology. Meanwhile the New Horizons series explores the mega-trends and micro-developments in technology and innovation, and shines a light on experts tackling the biggest issues with creativity in a bid to make our future brighter, with topics including Future Fashion, Algae is the New Black, Blockchain Decoded and Evolving Democracy. Over three successive Wednesdays, Vivid Sydney will take over the Art Gallery of NSW to create an intimate portrait of our better selves, with special guests daring to ask if we can improve dying, how we can find common ground when and where there’s conflict, and why we should nudge perceptions around female sexuality. And finally, the Vivid Ideas Exchange at the Museum of Contemporary Art also returns, with a diverse line-up of talks presented by creative experts covering topics including the future of work, the ethics of humanising technology and how to become agents for change.


For more information about Vivid Sydney visit



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