Vivid Sydney Guide: All About Sydney’s Biggest Festival

opera house sydney vivid

Vivid is Sydney’s biggest festival, and it’s known for its breathtaking Circular Quay light displays. But it’s far more than that: It’s also an ideas and events festival with talks, concerts, forums, and gatherings for people of all ages.

It’s actually huge, with the festivities and displays stretching from the Royal Botanical Gardens to the Opera House to Circular Quay to The Rocks to other parts of the city. Realistically, it takes two days to see everything, unless you don’t stop walking for about four hours. Luckily, you can see the highlights by just walking around Circular Quay.

When is Vivid Sydney?

In 2024 Vivid Sydney runs from 24 May until 15 June 2024. 

In 2019, it took place from Fri, 24 May 2019 – Sat, 15 June 2019. We decided to stop by and give you a flavor of the action. Our quick take:

Vivid is a must-visit for anyone in Sydney, and may be one of the best times for tourists to see the city.

vivid sydney harbour bridge circular quay
Getting there just before Vivid to see the sunset is a reminder of how beautiful Sydney is.
vivid sydney opera house

The Opera House, as always, is really the main attraction. Whoever did the lighting here is a pro–it looks fantastic. The building displays a movie which is bright, colorful, and abstract.

vivid sydney opera house

Seen from a distance, the Opera House is unambiguously the focal point of Vivid. But there are so many other amazing light installations and special foods available.

vivid sydney burger

There are many Vivid-themed items on display, but the most notable was the VIVID BURGER, which I am going to leave in ALL CAPS because it was that VIVID. Did I try one? No, because I’m vegetarian. But if I weren’t, I definitely would’ve been there.

vivid sydney food truck

Surprisingly short lines for what appears to be one of the coolest things on offer here.

vivid sydney food court food carts

There are multiple food courts at Vivid, and many of them sell alcohol. This food court, near The Rocks, mostly featured ice cream, donuts, and other desserts.

There are ample couple photo opportunities at Vivid, seen here by this cute photo.

vivid sydney aboriginal harbor bridge

Vivid has several installations that celebrate and remember aboriginal Australians. The aboriginal flag also flies on the Sydney harbor bridge during vivid, but seemingly not during any other times of the year.

vivid sydney opera house
The Opera House is stunning during Vivid. Sadly, only this half of it is actually lit up!
vivid sydney house

This colonial building at Circular Quay near the light rail station was lit up and displayed an entire story featuring whales and a swimming explorer. Very, very well done.

vivid sydney the rocks

The market at The Rocks, seen here on Saturday, was beautiful and had a collection of small-business and crafts-type items. It was, however, nearly identical to the year-round weekend markets that take place at The Rocks,

vivid sydney lights

Some of the smaller installations are the best in terms of photo-taking. It’s hard to really capture the Opera House unless you have a professional-grade camera.


Budget at least two hours for Vivid, and that’s if you only want to walk around Circular Quay.

Vivid is a good time to see Circular Quay by boat. Consider boarding the Circular Quay ferry, or perhaps the ferry to Manly, around 6. The ferry ride back into Circular Quay is very impressive.

Last but not least, get there early if you want to take professional photos, particularly at the start of vivid. Here’s why:

And if you do have a professional camera, get ready to deal with scenes like this. Vivid is fun, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful. And it can get crowded. So if you want to get a great seat or camera shot, you’ll want to arrive an hour before the lights come on at 6.

Last but not least, have fun!

While we’re talking about Australia, why not check out this interview we did with Jason Lowe, a fantastic Australian musician.

For more travel content, check out Seoul’s 12 must-visit destinations, as well as the best vegetarian restaurants in Seoul.

Have you been to Vivid? Got any questions? Let us know in the comments.


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