Australia/ Sydney

My experience with Vivid Sydney 2018

My experience with Vivid Sydney 2018, an annual festival of lights, music and ideas held in Sydney. Pictures of the event, things that I enjoyed and a guideline for attending the festival.

If you are following me on instagram (if you aren’t, please do!) you must have seen quite a few pictures, videos and insta-stories of me attending a festival in Sydney. Well, that festival is Vivid Sydney, an annual event of lights, music and ideas held over the course of 3 weeks featuring light installations, projections, musical performances and other public events. In its 10th year now, it ran from 25th May – 16th June 2018 with the entire city being lit up after dark. Since its winter in Sydney, that meant either 5:30 pm or 6 pm and the lights would stay on till 11 pm.

Here are a couple of pictures from the event, and in case you plan to attend it next year, a couple of lessons I learnt from attending it this year.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up during Sydney Vivid 2018.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up during Sydney Vivid 2018.

Darling Harbour lit up with the installations fantastic oceans and skylark during Sydney Vivid 2018.

Darling Harbour lit up with the installations fantastic oceans and skylark during Sydney Vivid 2018.

The 1000 cranes exhibit at The Rocks during Vivid Sydney 2018.

The 1000 cranes exhibit at The Rocks during Vivid Sydney 2018.

Do your research on Vivid Sydney events:

The first step is of course reading up on what’s going to happen this time, but also read up on visitor reviews because they will give a personal viewpoint on what to avoid and what to definitely not miss! It was my first time so everything felt new and unique but the locals here thought the quality had gone down compared to earlier years.

The Liminal Hour is an exhibit at Barangaroo which transformed Wulugul Walk into a magical bushland with a stunning female creature named Marri Dyin – meaning “Great Woman” in the Eora language walking around.

The Liminal Hour is an exhibit at Barangaroo which transformed Wulugul Walk into a magical bushland with a stunning female creature named Marri Dyin – meaning “Great Woman” in the Eora language walking around.

The Liminal Hour is an exhibit at Barangaroo which transformed Wulugul Walk into a magical bushland with a stunning female creature named Marri Dyin – meaning “Great Woman” in the Eora language walking around.

Plan your trip:

Downloading the mobile app was a huge help in planning my trip because it had all the information regarding the installations, where they were in town, and even guides on how to best visit them. Once the day and time had been decided based on personal schedules, the next step was figuring out logistics and the travel itinerary. Based on how the city is laid out, quite a few areas were clustered together, and we would decide on one cluster then just move from one installation to another. There are volunteers and signs indicating where to go, along with designated areas for toilets, food and drink along the way. For instance, one day we explored the Darling Harbour area, and then another day we did the light walk from Circular Quay through the Botanical Gardens ending at the Rocks. Third time we met with friends and walked through the Rocks enjoying the Night Markets.  Fourth time we did the Harbour Bridge walk and then went to Barangaroo.

The installation Light Houses in the middle of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney.

The installation Light Houses in the middle of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney.

The installation Oasis in the middle of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney. We followed the light walk path starting from the opera house and ending at Circular Quay.

The installation Oasis in the middle of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney. We followed the light walk path starting from the opera house and ending at Circular Quay.

The installation Bower in the middle of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney.

The installation Bower in the middle of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney.

Wear appropriate clothing:

Comfortable shoes are a must during the event due to the amount of walking required. Certain stations like Circular Quay are closed on Saturday & Sunday, so will require a bit more walk than usual. Check the weather app before leaving the house, and make sure to dress in layers accordingly. Keep a muffler and hat in your bag as it can get chilly. Plus carry an umbrella or wear a parka if it’s supposed to rain. We forgot our umbrellas one day and had to head back home as a result.

Go on off-peak times:

Though the duration of the festival ensures the crowd is staggered across multiple days, however, certain times will be busier than others. For instance weekends, particularly Sunday when transport is cheap. If you have the option, go on off-peak times like weekdays over weekends, and earlier in the night (around 6 pm). We found Friday to be the best day for attending the festival since it was the weekend but not as crowded as Saturday & Sunday. We were even able to get a seat at one of the main restaurants at Darling Harbour (without a reservation) and catch the opening day fireworks. If you have kids and/or are taking a stroller around, best to go at a relatively less crowded time.

Pick and choose:

If you have the time, you can definitely check out each and every installation for Sydney Vivid. If you don’t, pick and choose based on your interests and logistics. The mobile app has information about the various exhibits, and their social media feed shares pictures of the various exhibits. But remember, certain items can look far grander on social media then they actually are.  So pick clusters of exhibits versus gong all the way across town for one exhibit only unless it’s the Sydney Opera House. Of course!

Looks like the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean but is actually a ship lit up for Vivid Sydney 2018.

Looks like the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean but is actually a ship lit up for Vivid Sydney 2018.

Have you been to Vivid Sydney? How was your experience with it? Do share in the comments below.

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