One of Sydney’s most awaited cultural offerings has unveiled its 2023 program and it’s seriously stacked. Vivid Sydney returns this winter from May 26 to June 17 with an array of exciting events and activations. As always, there’s vibrant installations, dazzling light shows, a number of immersive experiences and lots of foodie events to look forward to. This year’s theme, ‘Vivid Sydney, Naturally ‘, will be reflected throughout the 300+ events across the 23-day program.
Signature events like Lighting of the Sails and the Vivid Light Walk will return along with a number of culinary events and more than 50 luminous light installations. A 2023 highlight is the previously announced Lightscape which is set to take over the Royal Botanic Garden with glowing tunnels and vibrant flowers. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Drone shows, art installations, dance events, markets, 3D projection artworks, concerts and a lot more are also on the menu. Check out some of the best events coming to town this year.
Vivid Sydney highlights
To kick things off in style, the Opera House will be illuminated for Lighting of the Sails with the vibrant works of one of Australia’s most famed artists, John Olsen. In terms of lights, get excited for Written in the Stars — a jaw-dropping light display over the harbour featuring a thousand drones (pictured in the feature image). Dance Together is another trippy light installation taking over Tumbalong Park which will get you out of your seats and dancing under huge floating rings above your head.
First Light, curated by Vivid Sydney’s First Nations Advisor Rhoda Roberts AO, returns after its dazzling debut in 2022. The festival also opens with a performance from Yolngu supergroup Yothu Yindi. Wild Lights at Taronga Zoo returns for another edition of lights, late-night walks in the zoo and furry animals. Other installations worth a visit include The Last Ocean by American artist and engineer Jen Lewin which is set to be Vivid’s largest-ever installation. Plus the Light Walk returns with more than 49 light installations and 3D projections lighting up the 8.5-kilometre illuminated walk from Central Station to the Sydney Opera House. It will highlight the works of 100+ light collaborators and 26 international light artists from 13 countries. A lovely 3D light display by First Nations artist Maree Clarke will also light up the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the program.
Vivid Sydney 2023 also premieres its first-ever food program with everything from street food to high-end dining experiences lined up. The popular Ivy Ballroom returns for an unforgettable night of music and lights and a feast by acclaimed Sydney chefs Ben Greeno and Danielle Alvarez.
The Vivid Fire Kitchen is bringing barbecues and mouthwatering menus to The Cutaway in Barangaroo while the popular Carriageworks Night Markets will make a return for one night only, showcasing Sydney’s leading restaurants, bars and producers.
Wine and dine at the most coveted spot in town on the pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge thanks to chef Luke Mangan. Vivid Chef Series will bring together local and global chefs for a series of unique collaborative meals that you can’t miss. House of Naturalia will take over Barangaroo House and feature a custom menu by head chef Tara Chua and a party that goes on from day to night.
Music buffs should start clearing out their calendars now because there’s heaps on in Vivid Sydney’s 2023 live music line-up, with a spotlight on First Nations artists.
A Bend in the River: A Celebration of the Life & Music of Archie Roach at the Sydney Town hall will feature performances by Paul Kelly, Emma Donovan, Dan Sultan, Kutcha Edwards, Sally Dastey, Becca Hatch, Dobby, Deline Briscoe, Radical Son, Tenzin Choegyal and Tamala Shelton. The Opera House features an excellent line-up of events and performers including Devonté Hynes with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Cat Power, Budjerah, Weyes Blood, Thundercat and more. The Opera House’s studio parties will also make a return, with party collectives Mad Racket, Picnic, Future Classic and House of Mince bringing the party vibes to town.
Tumbalong Park in Darling Harbour will host 12 nights of free music featuring Yothu Yindi, Hatchie, Kaiit, A.Girl, Ziggy Ramo, Cornelius and a celebration of 15 years of triple j’s Unearthed High competition, bringing together previous winners and finalists. Plus expect nightly DJ programming at The Goods Line and thrilling musical experiences at Carriageworks featuring a line-up including South African artist Desire Marea, Flying Lotus, Floodlights and many more.
And finally, for the curious minds, Vivid Ideas will be back with 60 talks and workshops which will explore the ideas of community, authenticity, respect, love and lessons learnt from the natural world.
The program features British author Jeanette Winterson, for her talk LIFE AND MARS: The Future of Human; Could the Ocean be the Solution? Nocturne is an immersive experience that will take over The Rocks while Coming to our Senses is a multi-sensory mindfulness workshop at the Royal Botanic Garden.
The Up Late program will once again take over the Powerhouse Museum and Australian Museum for an after-hours party.
“We are truly proud of this year’s program. We have raised the bar on the size and scale of the events and activated new parts of the city. Our line-up features more diverse talent across more industries,” Vivid Sydney Festival Director Gill Minervini said in a statement.
“There are world-firsts and festival-firsts, and both free and ticketed events to make the festival accessible to everyone. Audiences should be prepared to be blown away by the calibre of talent and a program that has been inspired by the beauty and diversity of nature.”
Last year, Vivid Sydney welcomed a staggering 2.58 million visitors to the city and by the sound of it, this year promises to be bigger and better than anything we’ve seen before. There’s a lot more on the horizon, check out the website for the full program lineup.