Using Sydney as its enormous canvas, Vivid takes place over 22 days from 27 May to 17 June. The festival’s incredible light installations turn the city of Sydney into a glowing hub of light art, music and food. Wander the Vivid Trails to see the festival’s highlights and stop off along the way at one of the restaurants offering Vivid-inspired menus and specials.
The lights aren’t just sticking to dry land – across Sydney Harbour, vessels including ferries, water taxis and cruises will be aglow with brilliant LED lighting to create a moving light festival crisscrossing around the harbour.
Dinner with lights at Fort Denison
To see the city up in lights from a whole new perspective, catch Vivid from Fort Denison restaurant. It’s the only island restaurant in Sydney Harbour and the view from here will take in the illumination of the Harbour Bridge plus loads of other light sights around Circular Quay. Over the course of Vivid, the restaurant is offering Dinner De-Lights, which includes a two-course meal, a private return water taxi out to the island, park entry fee and a tour of the fort’s Martello tower, the last of its kind ever built in the British Empire. Water-taxi pick-up from Man O’War Steps.
Circular Quay as been the Vivid hub since the festival’s first outing, and this year is no exception. The Vivid Light Walk is back with more than 60 light installations, and there are some excellent spots to stop for a drink or a meal along the way.
Vividly Australian at Bennelong
The menu at Bennelong for the Vivid festival takes as its inspiration the incredible Songlines work being projected onto the Opera House. The Australian theme is best demonstrated in chef Peter Gilmore’s red claw yabbies from Mandandanji country in Queensland served with buckwheat pancakes and lemon jam. Pair it with the Bennelong Billy – rum, river mint and strawberry gum poured over crushed ice. Bennelong Point, Circular Quay.
Image: Stefanie Miocic
SEE ALSO: Our review of Bennelong
Light and fine dining
The elegant restaurant in the heritage-listed InterContinental Hotel is offering a three-course dinner over the course of Vivid, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 5:30pm. The menu focuses on local and seasonal produce and modern Australian dishes. 117 Macquarie Street, Sydney.
Glow on show
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is keeping its Café and Sculpture Terrace open late for its Vivid Glow Bar. And why not? The MCA has arguably the best view of the show in town. There are Vivid-inspired cocktails as well as a brand new menu. 140 George St, Sydney.
French feasting at Café Ananas
French bistro-style Café Ananas will open from 5pm throughout the festival to offer a pre-Vivid dinner. Those who choose to explore first can pop in to the newly relocated brasserie for a post-Vivid cocktail and bar meal. 2 Phillip Street, Sydney.
A night at the museum
Take a seat at The Governor’s Table and you’re in prime position to check out some of the incredible installations around Circular Quay. The Museum of Sydney restaurant is offering a Vivid Prix Fixe menu from Tuesday to Saturday that starts at $29 for one course with wine. Corner Phillip and Bridge streets, Sydney.
Head north of the Harbour Bridge for a plethora of great restaurants. The crowds will thin but the views of the harbour lights from here are still spectacular.
Under the bridge at Aqua
Serving up modern Italian from its perch beneath the Harbour Bridge, Aqua offers a view over the glittering North Sydney Olympic Pool and beyond to the Opera House. If you’re not already sold on the lovely outlook, Aqua is serving a four-course dégustation designed by head chef Davide Rebeccato with optional matching wines on Vivid’s opening and closing nights. A third Vivid dégustation takes place for the June long weekend on Monday 13 June. Aqua is also offering a Cruise through Vivid event that starts with two courses at the restaurant then takes to the sea. Guests board a boat at Milsons Point and cruise around the harbour to see the light show before arriving at the amazing Ripples Chowder Bay for mains and dessert. Corner Paul and Northcliff streets, Milsons Point.
Ferries and the Ferris wheel at The Deck
The view from The Deck at Luna Park allows diners to see the Harbour Bridge up-close, not to mention panoramic views of the CBD. Try a two-course or three-course menu, and add a return ferry ticket to your bill if you want to head over to Circular Quay to get a closer look at the lights after dinner. Included in the price of dinner is a free ride on the Luna Park Ferris wheel for a bird’s-eye view of the lightshow from above. 1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point.
For the third year running Darling Harbour is a venue for Vivid, and the highlight has got to be Laser-Dragon Water-Theatre installation. Lingering over dinner, you can enjoy the sight of colourful images projected onto water screens created by 40 vertical and 15 moving fountains.
Family dinner aglow
To celebrate Vivid’s third year in Darling Harbour, Novotel’s The Ternery restaurant is hosting Vivid-inspired two- or three-course dinners, plus a drink, Monday to Friday. Also included is a Vivid Sydney map and available for purchase is a Glow Fun Pack for kids. 100 Murray Street, Pyrmont.
Snag a table at the rooftop Café del Mar to enjoy one course and a glass of Chandon or a Peroni with a top-notch view of the proceedings. The menu combines flavours from Spain, such as chorizo and jamón ibérico with fresh local ingredients such as Sydney rock oysters. Cockle Bay Wharf, 35 Wheat Road, Darling Harbour.
The CBD thoroughfare is the site of the amazing Explore Fountain, a stunning four-metre-high “living sculpture” and several other awe-inspiring Vivid works.
A feast for the eyes – and the stomach – 8Bits+Bytes is a collaboration between production houses Paper Moose and Motti+Smith. The latter has coaxed five of Sydney’s best burger joints to create Vivid “battle burgers”, while Paper Moose has created an animated vintage gaming arcade on a very large scale. Marvel at the spectacle while sampling the burgers and cast your vote for the winner of the burger battle online to see the tally on the live action scoreboard. Martin Place, Sydney.
Just around the corner from Vivid hub The Rocks is the Walsh Bay performing arts precinct. It’s an excellent place from which to view Vivid proceedings in the harbour and is playing host to several amazing light works this year including Elantica and Scales of Production.
Join the club
The Walsh Bay Kitchen Supper Club will be open late throughout Vivid, making it the perfect spot to stop for a drink and a bite after walking one or more of the Vivid Trails through the city. There will be bar snacks, desserts and drinks on offer. 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, Sydney.
Right to the end
No reservations are taken at The Bar at the End of the Wharf so just pop in when you’re ready to take a load off after exploring Vivid. The bar is open late throughout the festival serving dinner and drinks from Monday to Saturday. Pier 4, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, Sydney.
Top secret laneway dinners
The big secret here is that the location of Lime&Tonic’s dinner parties won’t be revealed until 24 hours before the events take place. At the as-yet unknown laneway locations, guests will enjoy a three-course dinner with matched wines and live music.
SEE ALSO: The best vantage points to see Vivid