16 VIVID Sydney Experiences You Have To See In 2023

16 VIVID Sydney Experiences You Have To See In 2023

If you’re visiting Sydney this winter, then prepare yourself to experience one of the most spectacular festivals in the world – VIVID Sydney. VIVID is an absolute must-see event, featuring incredible light shows, wicked music performances, interesting conversations, and much more. Running from Friday 26 May to Saturday 17 June 2023, the event takes over much of Sydney’s city – from Circular Quay, to Barangaroo, to Central Station and beyond. Trust us when we say, it is one of the best times to be in Sydney!

To help you make the most of VIVID Sydney, we’ve put together our top 16 experiences that we think you’ll love. A lot of these are free events, and some require paid tickets. Ready for an unforgettable winter in Sydney? Let’s dive in!

Top Picks: Light Installations & Experiences

1. Written In The Stars

Want to see the BIGGEST drone show that has ever happened in the Southern Hemisphere? You’ll need to add VIVID’s Written In The Stars to your list. This is an awe-inspiring journey through the natural world above us – exploring our solar system, from the Sun to Neptune, with plenty of surprising stops and visitors along the way.

  • Circular Quay (look up in the sky above)
  • 28 May, 31 May, 4 June, 7 June, 12 June, 14 June; from 9:00pm
  • Free

2. VIVID Light On Sydney Harbour

The ferries and boats in Sydney’s gorgeous harbour will light up in unison with not only the city’s skyscrapers, but with the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well! Take in the sights, which are just incredible, spanning sea, land and sky. We love nothing better than to find a spot to sit or stand in Circular Quay, and simply cast your eyes across Sydney Harbour – it is a colorful spectacle like no other!

  • Circular Quay and The Rocks
  • 26 May – 17 June; 6pm – 11pm
  • Free
Accommodation during Vivid Sydney 2023 Festival - Wake Up Hostel - Affordable, quality, best accommodation in central location.

3. Elemental

If the idea of 80 metre (260 foot) water shooters, flames and pyro technics sounds pretty cool to you, then Elemental is an essential stop on your VIVID journey. Elemental celebrates the four main elements – fire, air, water and earth – by mixing jaw-dropping effects with an original soundtrack.

  • Darling Harbour
  • 26 May – 17 June; 6pm – 11pm
  • Free

4. Dark Spectrum

Dark Spectrum is a world-first experience which is premiering at VIVID Sydney before touring the world. In this experience, you’ll enter abandoned railways tunnels underground the city (opened to the public for the very first time ever). Once inside, lose yourself across eight monochromatic rooms, in a transportive multi-sensory experience inspired by the euphoria found on underground dancefloors. Prepre yourself – this is like entering a completely new world!

  • Wynyard Station
  • 26 May – 17 June; 12pm – 9:15pm
  • $35

5. Vivid House

Welcome to Vivid House: an immersive 360° experience. Here, you’ll head on a hyper-real journey across Australia’s mountain peaks, you’ll take a psychadelic trip through Sydney’s hidden coves, and you’ll dive deep into our ocean floor with magical oceanic photography. This dream-like journey comes with only one warning: you might want to stay here forever!

  • Barangaroo, Vivid House
  • 26 May – 17 June; 6pm – 11pm
  • Free

6. The Last Ocean

The Last Ocean is a chance to step onto Antarctica’s icy wonderland without harming it. During the day, blue and whites swirl through the installation. At night, the artwork will splash and shift with your movements, highlighting what we risk losing if we don’t limit our impact on this Earth.

  • Barangaroo, Stargazer Lawn
  • 26 May – 17 June; 6pm – 11pm
  • Free

7. Waterfall

Inspired by the world-famous waterfalls in South America, Waterfall is a 20-metre cascade that sees “water” flow, with a digital spray and mist at the bottom. The waterfalls looks as if it is mysteriously hanging in mid-air, and the soundtrack transports you to somewhere far away. Waterfall is set to be a very cool experience!

  • The Rocks, ASN Clock Tower
  • 26 May – 17 June; 6pm – 11pm
  • Free
Sydney accommodation during VIVID Sydney - affordable quality award-winning hostel in Sydney's CBD

8. Dandelion

Just like the real thing, Dandelion is an installation which mimics the flower’s strength and beauty. You can take it in from a distance, or walk all the way into the centre of light dome, where hand sensors will cause your own movements to make light-shifting winds across the flower.

  • Circular Quay
  • 26 May – 17 June; 6pm – 11pm
  • Free

9. Lightscape

Lightscape is a 2.1km journey through the Royal Botanic Garden of Sydney. Here, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a spellbinding and multi-sensory world. Stroll beneath towering tree canopies illuminated in mesmerising colour, be awestruck by larger-than-life flowers and travel through gorgeous glowing tunnels. We recommend planning for a 90 minute visit, in order to experience everything Lightscape has to offer.

  • From 26 May
  • 5:30pm – 10:00pm
  • $30

11. City Gazing Sydney

In this light show, you’ll be able to see a view that we’re pretty sure you haven’t seen before: the Earth from space! The installation imagines looking down on Sydney from the stars over the last 100 years. You can watch as Sydney expands, and you can time-travel to some of the key moments in history that shaped the city, with an accompanying soundtrack.

  • The Rocks
  • 26 May – 17 June; 6pm – 11pm
  • Free

10. Wild Lights At Taronga

Head on an adventure through Taronga Zoo with Wild Lights. This experience transforms Australia’s wildlife into magical light sculptures. Prepare to be awe-struck by giant versions of native animals like koalas, dingos, kangaroos, emus, platypuses, rendered in intricate and illuminated designs.

  • Taronga Zoo
  • From 26 May
  • From $22.50

Our Picks: Music Performances

12. Yaeji

Yaeji is about to make it rain (gurl), at the Sydney Opera House. This Korean-American producer, DJ and singer-songwriter is bringing her bilingual blend of house beats to an grooving dancefloor for Vivid LIVE. Get your tickets before they sell out!

  • Sydney Opera House
  • 27 – 28 May; 8:30pm – 10:30pm
  • From $59

13. Triple J Celebrates 15 Years Of Unearthed High

You might’ve heard of ‘the world’s greatest music democracy’ – the Triple J Hottest 100. Well, Australia’s much-loved radio station Triple J are putting on a one-off live and free concert for VIVID, featuring previous winners and finalists of their Triple J Unearthed High music competition. Join in for a giant celebration!

  • Tumbalong Park
  • 2 June; 6pm – 10pm
  • Free

14. Yothu Yindi

Yothu Yindi is a band from Australia’s North East Arnhem Land that mixes indigenous music and tribal Yolngu beats with international popular styles (including electronica and rock n’ roll). They’ll be performing a free show in the heart of Vivid’s Light Walk along with with Solomon Island rapper Ziggy Ramo – don’t miss out for a cool night of music and dance!

  • Tumbalong Park
  • 27 May; 6pm – 10pm
  • Free

Our Recommendations: Talks and Ideas

15. Future Art Is Vivid

A party celebrating the world’s brightest digital and NFT crypto artists? Sign us up! At Future Art Is Vivid you can expect cutting-edge VR experiences, NFT displays and huge projections at an art party like no other. And to make it even better, there will be live music and DJs pumping dancefloor hits. Multi-sensory and ultra-immersive, you’ll get to experience digital art in its many forms, including motion art, AI, generative art, animation, 3D art and VR.

  • Sydney, Home The Venue
  • 16 June; 8pm – 3am
  • $60

16. Cli-mating

Ready to swipe right? No, not on Tinder or Hinge or Bumble… but on the planet! Cli-mating is a blind date panel about finding your sustainability match. There will be comedians and scientists talking about big eco questions around fast fashion, diet and how we live our lives. Don’t worry, you won’t actually be forced to speed date! But this fun and fresh twist on a dating show will help you to reconsider your everyday choices and leave you better informed on how you can decrease your carbon footprint.

  • Sydney CBD (Vivid Ideas Exchange)
  • 10 June; 7:30pm – 8:45pm
  • From $21.00

Where To Stay During VIVID Sydney?

Book your accommodation in the heart of the VIVID action. Wake Up! Sydney is located directly opposite Central Station, which will be pumping with light projections, installations and music events across the terminal building and along the walkway. Standing tall with both shared dorm rooms and private rooms, Wake Up is a favourite hostel destination from travellers around the world. Use Wake Up as a base for your own solo adventures, or make friends during our daily activities and experience the magic of VIVID festival together! Book direct on wakeup.com.au for best rates, free cancellation, no deposit and no booking fees.

  • Bondi Beach Walking Tours
  • Free Pizza Nights
  • Wine & Cheese Social Nights
  • City Orientation Tours
  • Karaoke
  • Meetups
  • Onsite cafe
  • Onsite bar with VIVID-themed parties
  • Central location
  • Travel desk

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