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Vivid Sydney

By Donna Demaio

It takes a certain confidence to extend a festival by five days to a total of twenty three. On the strength of massive crowds (1.7 million) last year, Vivid Sydney has done just that. The event attempts to encapsulate what it’s all about with the slogan – Light, Music, Ideas. The slogan is simply inadequate. There’s a lot to experience. Here are my top ten tips to checking out Vivid.

1/ Hug a tree. There’s a light installation (Tree hugger) that offers the chance to hug a tree, entwined with cable, that shines brighter solely when cuddled. You’ll find it at Circular Quay.

Vivid Sydney Harbour Bridge

2/ Listen to some great minds share their insights and knowledge. At the Sydney Town Hall (impossible to miss the dazzling chandelier in the foyer), Beau Willimon, the creator of  House of Cards had fans of the political drama spellbound on the first weekend. There are others to come including director Spike Jonze and Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan

3/ Enjoy the nostalgia of bands of yesteryear (Models, Machinations and Dave Mason of The Reels performed at the Enmore Theatre at the weekend) or tap into contemporary artists. Soul of Sydney at a secret location, hip hop artists at Luna Park and the legendary New Order are amongst them.

4/ Behold the greatly admired and quite superb projections that illuminate the sails of the Sydney Opera House. The indigenous artists gathered harbour side on opening night to speak of their passion for the work. The slithering snakes, cave paintings and an assortment of stunning depictions are wonderful and moving.


5/ Do not neglect The Royal Botanic Gardens –  joining Vivid for the first time, while celebrating 200 years. Walking through the Cathedral of Light is surreal, calming and beautiful. And a selfie frenzy. There are other illuminations along the way.

6/ Darling Harbour and Taronga Zoo are part of the show. The Harbour hosts an enormous water screen on a 13 metre robotic arm, fountains and 22 flame jets and lasers. It’s very wow. While giant light sculptures at the Zoo represent animals, naturally – including a massive elephant.

7/ Watch gnomes pogo across the grand sandstone façade of Customs House. The fantastical adventures of a blue-tongue lizard and his mates, including gnomes, as well as witches, wizards and cockatoos, are a punter’s favourite. It’s mesmerising.

8/ In the very heart of town, a four metre high geo-metric Mountain of Light greets passers-by in Martin Place. With 80 installations peppered across town and surrounds, it’s actually rather difficult to miss Vivid Sydney.

9/ “Vivid Sydney is not just a New South Wales experience. It’s a genuine Australian experience. It’s something every Australian should put on their bucket list. Those words from the local tourism minister Stuart Ayres as we watched the lights switch on.

Vivid Sydney Sydney Opera House

10/ “Most members of the general public hear the word art and they run screaming because it’s something they think they can never afford and never understand anyway,” says creative director Ignatious Jones. But he explains that combining art and technology has been very successful. “People have been voting with their feet and we must have been doing something right.”

The writer was hosted by Destination NSW


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