Vivid Sydney: Australia’s largest festival is back to illuminate New South Wales

Published May 25, 2023

3 min read

This article was produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Now in its 13th year, Vivid Sydney brings boundary-pushing artists, thinkers, musicians and chefs to New South Wales’s buzzing capital, with more than three weeks of exhibitions and live events honouring creativity, innovation and technology.

At the centre of the celebrations, which last year attracted 2.5 million festivalgoers, hundreds of art installations and 3D light projections will illuminate city landmarks including Circular Quay, The Rocks and Darling Harbour and, for the first time this year, The Royal Botanic Garden.

This year’s festival runs from 26 May to 17 June. It also takes in a new programme of culinary events and 23 nights of free live music, with First Nations voices at the forefront. Venues including Sydney Opera House will host performances from artists such as Yothu Yindi, Ziggy Ramo, Emma Donovan and Budjerah.

Vivid Sydney Light Walk

More than 60 light installations, some incorporating water fountains, kaleidoscopic design and superscale 3D projections, line a five-mile illuminated walk that connects the city’s buildings, public spaces and key landmarks. Artist John Olsen’s animated piece Lighting of the Sails: Life Enlivened will be unfurling across the sails of the Sydney Opera House, an artwork influenced by his enduring love of Australian nature and landscape.

The Last Ocean

US installation artist Jen Lewin brings The Last Ocean to Sydney’s Stargazer Lawn, following its 2022 debut at Burning Man. The artwork gives visitors the chance to explore her version of the Ross Sea, the Antarctic’s fragile icy landscape, hewn in reclaimed ocean plastics. Step onto it and see ‘sea ice’ shift beneath you, triggered by each foot fall.


This internationally acclaimed touring show arrives in Sydney for the festival, with an immersive, multisensory one-mile trail through The Royal Botanic Garden. Walk beneath the glowing tree canopies and larger-than-life flowers, visit fire gardens and explore towering illuminated tunnels.

Vivid Food

Culinary creativity makes a festival debut this year, with pop-up restaurants, residences from celebrity chefs and night markets across the Central Business District, celebrating Sydney’s highly diverse food culture. Highlights include the Vivid Fire Kitchen’s flame-fuelled food festivities with special grill menus and barbecue sessions, while the Vivid Chef Series pairs landmark Sydney restaurants with global chefs.

Published in the May 2023 issue ofNational Geographic Traveller (UK)

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