It’s a festival on an epic scale: a three-week extravaganza of dazzling lights, music and ideas that turns Sydney into an enormous outdoor gallery. Vivid returns for its eighth year in 2017 and the program is the biggest yet. What began as a projection onto the Sydney Opera House in 2009 now takes place over 23 days and draws millions of people to Sydney. The schedule includes musical performances, public ideas programs, creative industry workshops and conferences. And Vivid is taking up more real estate this year, expanding into Kings Cross and Barangaroo. Here’s what to expect from Vivid Sydney 2017.

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The Precincts

For the first time, Barangaroo and Kings Cross will light up as part of Vivid Sydney, joining Chatswood and Taronga Zoo and a host of city spots.


Expect an illuminated trail of light installations through the laneways and past the waterfront restaurants of Barangaroo with a Day in the Light by French/Italian creative collective Danny Rose. Don’t miss the vertigo-inducing Trapdoor by Spinifex Group in which the ground appears to open up beneath your feet to a fiery subterranean world.

What’s Happening at Vivid Sydney 2017

Campbell’s Cove

This small bay is a stop along the Vivid Light Walk and can be accessed via Hickson Road or Circular Quay Wharf.


Built-up Chatswood is becoming a steampunk wonderland with retro-futuristic installations and light sculptures taking over the malls, alleyways and the train station.

What’s Happening at Vivid Sydney 2017

Darling Harbour

An installation called Magicians of the Mist hovers over Cockle Bay for Vivid, a collaboration between engineers, pyrotechnicians and composers. The result is an arresting work involving 12 pumps throwing 28 tonnes of water into the air every minute, projections on 60-metre-wide walls of water and lasers, flames, fireworks and fireballs. 

What’s Happening at Vivid Sydney 2017

Kings Cross

Vivid KX is the debut festival program for Kings Cross and celebrates the storied past of the area with performance art, cult film screenings, talking heads and music. And the iconic Coke sign is getting its own Vivid makeover with a Characters of Kings Cross photography series by Katherine Williams to be emblazoned across its surface.

What’s Happening at Vivid Sydney 2017

Martin Place

By day it’s suit-city but by night during Vivid, Martin Place becomes an illuminated wonderland with giant glowing frogs and flowing rivers, food by Porteno and more.

Sydney Harbour 

Harbour Lights uses vessels affixed with brilliant LED lights to create a coordinated display across the harbour, making the water itself a Vivid precinct.

What’s Happening at Vivid Sydney 2017

Sydney Opera House

The sails of Jørn Utzon’s masterpiece are lit each year for Vivid; this year the Opera House becomes Audio Creatures, a collaboration between Ash Bolland and Amon Tobin that sees the Opera House become a writhing, living, breathing mass of fantastical animals and plant life accompanied by soundscapes.

What’s Happening at Vivid Sydney 2017

Taronga Zoo

The zoo is decidedly different at night… Lights for the Wild at Taronga Zoo will enable visitors to interact with light sculptures including a Sumatran tiger, a swarm of buzzing bees and a Port Jackson shark.

The Rocks

The cobbled laneways of old Sydney come alive with projections and installations at The Rocks’ sites including Cadman’s Cottage, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

The Royal Botanic Garden

The incredible collection of flora that lives in the Royal Botanic Garden becomes a canvas for projections and installations including the Birds of Lumos (a Kiwi and her chick with light-globe bodies and night goggles) and You Lookin’ at Me?: five huge, unblinking eyeballs that watch visitors warily from tufts of grass.

The Lights

More than 65 works make up this year’s Vivid display.

The Music

The musical line-up this year is stellar. Sydney is being visited by such luminaries as Evan Dando of Lemonheads, Laura Marling, Bill Callahan (aka Smog) Fleet Foxes and Air, to name a few. Local legends include Dustin Tebbutt and Lisa Mitchell, the Avalanches and Dappled Cities.

What’s Happening at Vivid Sydney 2017

British artist Laura Marling

The Ideas Program

Makers, hackers, entrepreneurs and dilettantes from all over the globe will gather to explore music-making, virtual reality, smart fashion, robotics, culture and commerce. This year’s Vivid Ideas program comprises more than 200 events over Vivid’s 23 days. Conceived as a global forum for ingenuity and innovation, the program seeks out both creative luminaries and emerging talents. American artist Shepard Fairey, best known for his Barack Obama Hope campaign, is headlining the Game-Changer Talks Series with director Oliver Stone and Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti also featuring.

What’s Happening at Vivid Sydney 2017

Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti

The Walk

Visitors wandering the Light Walk will journey through secret coves, little-known byways and new city precincts. This year the journey has expanded further along the waterfront and takes in secret harbour coves, the cobbled streets of The Rocks and illuminated landmarks such as the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The walk takes in the fun and the fantastical: compose a tune by dancing on piano keys, touch a picture frame to reveal a whole galaxy of worlds and see EORA, a projection that pays tribute to Eora man Bennelong.

What’s Happening at Vivid Sydney 2017

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