Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney

Circular Quay during Vivid 2015
Genre Exhibition
Frequency Annual
Location(s) Sydney
Years active 8
Inaugurated 2009
Most recent 27 May-18 June 2016
Attendance 2.3 million (2016)

Vivid Sydney is an annual outdoor lighting festival with immersive light installations and projections in Sydney. Part of the lighting festival also includes performances from local and international musicians and an ideas exchange forum featuring public talks and debates from leading creative thinkers.

This winter event takes place in central Sydney over the course of three weeks in May and June. The centrepiece of Vivid Sydney is the light sculptures, multimedia interactive work and building projections that transform various buildings and landmarks such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in and around the Sydney central business district into an outdoor night time canvas of art.[1]

During the 2015 festival, sites of interest were Central Park, Chatswood and the University of Sydney as well as around the CBD, Darling Harbour and The Rocks.


Customs House, Vivid Sydney 2015
Visitors at Vivid Sydney 2015

Vivid began as a Smart light festival in 2009 for energy efficiency curated by Lighting Designer Mary-Anne Kyriakou and headlined by Brian Eno.[2] Eno, in collaboration with lighting designer Bruce Ramus,[3] projected Light Painting onto both sides of the Opera House. The Festival was championed by Mary-Anne Kyriakou,[2] Anthony Bastic,[2] Mike Day, Davina Jackson, Carolyn Grant and Barry Webb.

Commercial success for Destination NSW

The Sydney skyline during Vivid Sydney, 2013

According to New South Wales Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, Vivid 2012 attracted more than 500,000 visitors to the outdoor exhibition and events,[4] generating around $10 million in income for the state,[5] whereas Vivid 2013 attracted more than 800,000 visitors, contributing more than $20 million to the NSW economy.[6]

In 2014, the festival involved the Opera House, Walsh Bay, Circular Quay, The Rocks, North Sydney, Darling Harbour, and, joining in for the first time, Harbour Lights, The Star and Carriageworks. A new projected work by London based creative team 59 Productions illuminated the sails of the Sydney Opera House.[7]

In 2015, Vivid Sydney attracted more than 1.7 million visitors to the city.[8] The 2016 Vivid event included an expanded program of multi-genre music, stimulating presentations and Vivid Talks from global presenters and dazzling light projections across the city.[9][10] In 2016, a display was added at Taronga Zoo.[11]

In 2016, Vivid Sydney was extended to 23 nights from 27 May to 18 June and was attended by more than 2.3 million people.[12]

Interactive Activities

At Vivid Sydney, there are many opportunities for individuals to interact with the unique technology that is offered. Exhibits at Vivid Sydney are all numbered based on their location and these numbers are all displayed on a map. While there are multiple larger light shows such as the ones displayed on the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, there are also multiple smaller exhibits located around the harbour.

Musical Cubes

One of the interactive activities in the harbor was called Musical cubes. In this activity, a group of 6 individuals would take part in a musical experiment. Each member would be given a three dimensional cube. Each cube represented a different instrument (Guitar, Piano, Synths, etc.) and each side of the cube would represent a different pace (measured in beats per minute). Every member of the group would take their cube, select a side, and place the cube on a table. A computer program would then interpret all the information from the cubes and play the resulting musical beat over loud speakers that surrounded the table. Participants would be allowed to change the tempo of their instrument and as they changed them, the program would react to reflect the change and play the new tune.

Heart of the City

Another activity located in the harbor was called the Heart of the City. This was one of the more popular activities at Vivid Sydney 2015 due to its immersive nature. The Heart of the City resembled a large, solid beanbag chair and was located near the Sydney Opera House. Upon reaching the front of the line, participants would be asked to seat themselves in the middle of the chair. Once seated, they would be instructed by a Vivid Sydney volunteer to insert their finger into a small hole located near the chair. If your finger was inserted right, the chair would begin to light up red to match your heartbeat. As participants began to notice this, their heart rate would increase causing the chair to light up very quickly.[13]

See also


  1. Willis, Kimberley (17 February 2012). "Top 10 ideas festivals". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Gallasch, Keith (April 2009). "Designs on light". RealTime Arts (90): 12–13. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  3. "Profile/ Sydney Opera House (2009)". Ramus Illumination Pty Ltd. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  4. Boulton, Martin (27 May 2012). "A vivid idea of a festival". The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  5. Taylor, Andrew (21 March 2013). "Vivid Sydney up in lights". The Canberra Times. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014.
  6. "One Week until Sydney goes Wild". Destination NSW. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  7. "Vivid Live - Lighting the Sails 2014". 59 Productions. May 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  8. "Vivid Sydney". Destination New South Wales. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  9. "Vivid Sydney". Destination New South Wales. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  10. "Vivid Sydney Programme". Vivid Sydney. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  11. Vivid Sydney will light Taronga Zoo for the first time Taronga Zoo
  12. Vivid Sydney 2016 smashes visitor record with 2.3 million Destination NSW 27 June 2016

Media related to Vivid Sydney at Wikimedia Commons

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