If there’s one fixture on Sydney’s arts and cultural calendar you can’t afford to miss, it’s Vivid. This year in particular, the festival of light, music and ideas is more action-packed than ever before. If you’re into twinkling lights, vibey music, wintry treats and colourful artsy things, we can’t think of a better time than now to be out and about exploring the harbour city. There’s a giant drone show lighting up the skies over Circular Quay, a techno party taking over the long-forgotten tunnels under Wynyard Station, cosy markets with all the trimmings and a dozen other events to check out. In case you still haven’t experienced the magic yourself, we’ve scoured the best installations at Vivid Sydney that need to be on top of your list before the festival ends. Check them out below and start planning.
1. The Last Ocean
One of Vivid’s most thought-provoking installations is currently housed at the Stargazer Lawn in Barangaroo. It’s also the fest’s largest installation so far so it’s well worth a visit. Dubbed “The Last Ocean“, the installation is a massive tessellated ice sheet, made entirely out of reclaimed ocean plastic. The idea is to raise awareness about climate change and what we risk losing if immediate action is not taken. It also takes visitors on a surreal journey through Antarctica. The Last Ocean is free to visit, read more about it here.
Discover this dreamy and floating display projected onto water mist at Walsh Bay in one of Vivid’s best free events this year. The 3D installation is displayed mid-air evoking a sense of awe at our natural world and the universe at large. In Greek philosophy, Monad translates to an elementary body that reflects the order of the world, an “all-encompassing force.” Don’t miss it, get more information on the Vivid Sydney website.
Barerarerungar means ‘Country’ in Boonwurrung, a language from Kulin Nation, where artist Maree Clarke resides. The not-to-be-missed projection highlights river reeds — a symbol representing safe travels and friendship depicted onto the MCA façade. The giant projection is an ode to practices on Country at the very heart of all the Vivid Sydney action this year. Read more about it here.
Another stunning projection that’s completely free to visit is Elemental that takes place throughout Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay. Visitors can expect a massive water show complete with 80-metre water shooters, flames, pyrotechnics and some seriously impressive effects. Elemental is a 9-minute show that happens every 30 minutes from 6pm, with the final show at 10.30pm. Read more about it here.
One of the most striking installations you’ll find as you wander around Circular Quay and The Rocks is Dandelion — a 4,000kg steel construction that visitors can walk in, around and through. A steel recreation of the flower’s delicate calyx or pappus, this installation depicts the pappus’s strength which despite its dainty exterior is able to retain approximately 100 times its own weight in water. Check out this installation in Circular Quay and don’t forget to make a wish while you’re at it. Read more here.
One of Vivid Sydney’s most Instagrammable displays is hidden between the piers at Walsh Bay and it’s seriously pretty. Titled Ghosts, the display is a tribute to Japan’s origami culture where origami cranes are often gifted to loved ones as a symbol of health and vitality. Read more about it here.
7. Life Enlivened
To pay tribute to late Australian artist John Olsen, the Opera House is illuminating its sails with his vibrant artworks. The works of the celebrated artist and his six-decade career will shine bright every night from 6pm to 11pm for Lighting of the Sails: Life Enlivened until June 17. Olsen’s works prominently feature the Australian landscape and it’s a sight to see up close. Don’t miss out, click here for more info.