Vivid Sydney is well and truly underway and if you’re trying to figure out exactly what you need to see in the stacked 200+ line-up of events, we’ve got you covered. This year round, Vivid is truly bigger and better than ever and with the exception of some highlight events, namely Dark Spectrum and Lightscape, most installations and events are free to visit. Here are some of the very best free (or cheap) events you need to see at Vivid this year.
The first-ever Vivid Sydney drone show is the largest ever in the southern hemisphere with over a thousand drones lighting up the skies over Circular Quay. Better yet, it’s completely free to enjoy. Dubbed Written in the Stars, on a celestial journey through the natural world as it explores the solar system, from the Sun to Neptune, in line with Vivid’s 2023 theme “Vivid Sydney, Naturally.” The Vivid Sydney drone show will light up the sky above Circular Quay from 9pm on the following dates:
- Monday, June 12
- Wednesday, June 14
With throngs of visitors and hundreds of events, it’s no surprise that Vivid Sydney can be a little overwhelming. The best way to experience everything that the event has to offer is through the streamlined Light Walk which features all the light installations, artworks and dreamy projections you need to see this year. The 8.5km walk from the Sydney Opera House to Central Station covers a number of spectacular events like Sonder, Inside Out, Spirograph and Ghosts. Head here for all the highlights and start planning.
3. Vivid House
An immersive spectacle that perfectly encapsulates this year’s theme is taking place at The Cutaway in Barangaroo. Vivid House is an exhibition that features four incredible artworks that take guests on a hypnotic journey through Australia’s rich landscapes both above and underwater. From towering mountain peaks to striking corals, take a trip around the land down under like never before. Read all about it here.
The Opera House is paying tribute to the late John Olsen by projecting his vibrant artworks on its sails every night throughout Vivid. As an ode to the artist’s six-decade career and his endless fascination and love for Australian nature and landscape, visitors can enjoy some of his finest works up close. See the Opera House light up every night from 6pm to 11pm for Lighting of the Sails: Life Enlivened until June 17.
Entry to the Carriageworks’ Night Market will cost you $15 but any market enthusiast will tell you that it’s completely worth it. The market will be curated by Australia’s leading sustainable chef Matt Stone with a focus on local produce and brands with 50 of Sydney’s leading restaurants, bars and producers participating including Anason, Rockpool Bar and Grill, Porcine, Queen Chow and Cantina OK!. Plus there’s live music, food demonstrations and much more. Read all about it and grab your tickets here.
6. Tumbalong Nights
Music fans need not look any further than Darling Harbour’s Tumbalong Nights. The free and fun event is bringing 12 nights of live music, with artists from Africa to Arnhem Land, along with some of Sydney’s most exciting up-and-coming talent. The event is free for all and dancing is encouraged. If you’ve decided to discover Vivid Sydney through the Light Walk, you’ll find this buzzy event at the very heart of it all so take a little break and enjoy a boogie while you’re at it. Find the full program here.
7. Elemental, Vivid Lights
The Elemental light show occurs across Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay and is completely free to visit. Combining the elements of fire, air, water and earth, you’ll see 80-metre water shooters, flames, projection and pyro technics at the jaw-dropping show making it another must-see on the Light Walk. 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.
8. The Last Ocean
At the Stargazer Lawn in Barangaroo, you’ll find a massive stretch of reclaimed ocean plastic that resembles an ice sheet. This is Vivid Sydney’s biggest installation to date and aims to shed light on what we risk at losing due to climate change. It’s also a stunning ode to Antarctica and is free to visit. See more here.
9. Vivid Fire Kitchen
Vivid Fire Kitchen is a new addition to Vivid Sydney and brings together some of the city’s hottest dining concepts to the forefront. Expect NSW producers, curated drinks and fire-inspired cocktails until June 17. Even better, entry is free as are the live demos from guests. Get more info here.
Guests can go on an illuminated late-night walk in Taronga Zoo and see Australia’s wildlife up close through a number of light sculptures. See everything from koalas and dingos to kangaroos, emus and platypuses. There’s also a number of Instagrammable displays like fields of ‘fireflies’ and dramatic jellyfish blooms. Tickets will cost you $30 per person. Grab them here.
Don’t mind spending a little? There’s a silent disco at the Sydney Tower Eye for insane 360-degree views of the city, a Bob Dylan-inspired bar at the Opera House dishing out comfort food and stunning Vivid lights from one of the best vantage points in town, a glow-in-the-dark pottery class in Bondi and heaps more. Find the full line-up of events here and get planning.