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Vivid Sydney self guided walking tour - light walk - central station to circular quay - darling harbour - barangaroo

Ultimate Self-Guided Vivid Sydney Walking Tour – From Central Station to Circular Quay (2024)

Last updated: April 2024

There really is nothing quite like Vivid Sydney. This event lights up the city of Sydney and the Sydney Harbour in the most outstanding of colours and bright, neon hues. Running during winter, from Friday 24 May 2024 to Saturday 15 June 2024, this year’s unmissable festival is going to be brilliant! While there are so many different events within Vivid to check out, one of the best things to do is a self-guided Light Walk through some of the coolest light installations.

Below, we’ve put together a self-guided Vivid Sydney walking tour, taking you from Central Station to Circular Quay. Enjoy!

Vivid Sydney Light Walk – Self Guided Tour Instructions

CENTRAL STATION

Starting at Wake Up! Sydney, look out towards Central Station from Pitt Street. The western facade of Central Station (the side that directly faces Wake Up!) and the Clock Tower, will be lit up with vivid colours and transportive artwork. Walk to The Goods Line by walking right onto Quay Street, then left onto Thomas Street.

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THE GOODS LINE

Turn right onto The Goods Line, and along this walkway there will be many light projections, installations and music events as part of Vivid Sydney. Keep your eyes out for:

  • Window Dressing – walls of illuminated windows that indulges our inner crypto-scopo-philia (the desire to look through windows of homes as you pass by). Performers will be living strange and curious lives within each window frame, against a festival of technological wonder and curated music.
  • Vivid Fire Kitchen – refuel with flame-seared street food from around the globe. Some of the best local and international pitmasters will be using charcoal to fire-cook dishes like tandoor, teppanyaki, First Nations food, tender brisket, charred veggies, and aromatic satay. Plus, cult-gelato favourite Messina will serve nostalgic favourites at Messina Milk Bar (don’t miss the warm Milo fudge sundae!).
  • Fireplaces – giant fire pits, wicked fire sculptures, flame throwers, and fire barrels are just some of what to expect in this hypnotic display.
  • Future Natives – keep your eye out for this series of 13 light sculptures, inspired by Australian native birds. They’ll act as way finders as you do the walk to Circular Quay.

When you reach the end of The Goods Line, turn right onto Steam Mill Lane, which will take you to Darling Square and then Darling Quarter.

DARLING SQUARE & DARLING QUARTER

Continue walking up the Boulevard, to Tumbalong Park and the Chinese Garden of Friendship Forecourt. Here, look out for Neuron: a motion-triggered light structure that represents your very own brain. Watch as the LED light ‘neurons’ and branches react in the exact same pattern that electrical and chemical signals are triggered in your own brain. You won’t miss Neolithic. This super large installation is a nod to both Neolithic-era architecture and our fascination with the cosmos.

Finally, settle into Tumbalong Park for a non-stop dance party (one of our must-see Vivid Sydney experiences for 2024)! There will be 12 nights in a row of live music and epic DJs, including artists like Mallrat and a street party by radio show turned block party, Bare Necessities, bringing high energy, big band brass and African drumming and dancing to the night.

Finally, Omnivisu is an uber cool interactive project. Step up to the Omnivisu viewfinder in Tumbalong Park, where two cameras will film your eyes. Your eyes will then be projected in larger-than-life scale onto a towering building in the distance!

DARLING HARBOUR

Continue walking along the path towards the water’s edge at Darling Harbour. Turn right, for the start of your Darling Harbour foreshore walk. Along the way, you’ll see:

  • Hika Rakuyo: an eight-minute spectacular laser and light show shooting across the water;
  • Barani: where modern, digital illustration is combined with First Nations iconography, to tell the story of Sydney Cove 500 years ago (ps. ‘Barani’ is a Gadigal word meaning ‘yesterday’);

Walk north towards Barangaroo.

BARANGAROO

Just before reaching Barangaroo, stroll past Chairwave and get ready to take a seat. As you approach, the Chairwave lights respond and will make a seat available for you by lighting up. Once you sit down, it will then light up the seats next to you, inviting a stranger to sit down next to you and encouraging real conversations with people we don’t know.

You’ll know you’ve reached Barangaroo once you see lights galore! What Vivid Sydney light shows should you see once you’re in Barangaroo? Here are our suggestions:

  • Take a moment to pause and just ‘be’ at Stateless, with 4,000 solar-powered LED candles placed by the water.
  • Look into the Horizon, for a hypnotic, full-body experience. Expect trance-like sound and strobing lights.
  • See giant cranes appear to float in the air at Nest
  • At Encounters Before the Tree, the trees above you will transform into geometric shapes. This display is pretty mind-bending!
  • Step into the towering 15 metre tall installation of PORTAL. Once you’re in, a soundscape will start up and dramatic lights will pulse in time to the beat.

Continue walking through the installations in Barangaroo Reserve, before wrapping around into Walsh Bay.

WALSH BAY

You’ve made it to the Piers at Walsh Bay. A true highlight is the mirror-maze at Shifting Perspectives. 24 mirrored plinths, light swirls, dancers and sound all pulsate to make for a real reality-bending creation. Don’t miss it!

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THE ROCKS & CIRCULAR QUAY

Wrap around to The Rocks and enter Circular Quay. You’ve made it the heart of Vivid Sydney’s light show! This is your place to be! Pick a spot to sit or stand, and simply cast your eyes out across Sydney Harbour and be dazzled by Love Is In The Air – it is a colourful spectacle like no other. The ferries and boats will light up in unison with the city’s skyscrapers, as well as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. There is no shortage of things to look at here, but some of our suggestions include:

  • Connection – take in the colourful sight at Hickson Road Reserve from a distance (or walk all the way into its centre for an interactive and sensory experience).
  • Walk past the Museum of Contemporary Art to see its facade totally transformed
  • Go to First Fleet Park for a life-sized equivalent of a kid’s paper chain, at Embrace. Wait to see what happens once the silhouettes are all connected through human touch!
  • At the eastern end of Circular Quay, gaze at Customs House where Australian national icon Reg Mombassa’s artwork of retro-furistic robots, one-eyed koalas and other strange creatures light up the night.

FAQs

What is Vivid Sydney?

  • Vivid Sydney is an insanely cool festival that happens every year. It celebrates creativity, innovation and technology, through huge light installations, music performances, public talks, and much more. Essentially, it’s a time that totally transforms Sydney for 23 days and nights and is one of the best times of the year to visit the city! In 2024, Vivid Sydney will run in winter from Friday 24 May to Saturday 15 June.

How long will this Self Guided Light Walk Tour take me?

  • We suggest at least 2 hours for this Vivid Sydney Self Guided Light Walk.

Can I start the walk at Circular Quay and finish at Central Station?

  • Of course. You can also do this Light Walk in reverse, beginning at Circular Quay and ending at Central Station. This is a good idea if you want to end the night with an electric night and Vivid-themed cocktail at Side Bar!

Is there a quicker way to get to Circular Quay from Central Station?

  • You can catch the train or tram directly from Central to Circular Quay. The train will take you 10 minutes, and the tram will take you 15 minutes.

Is there a shorter light walk? Can I just do part of the Self Guided Walk?

  • You can split this walk up, so that you don’t have to do it all in one go. For example, you could just do:
    • Central Station to Darling Harbour
    • Barangaroo to Circular Quay

Can I eat along the Vivid Sydney Light Walk?

  • There are heaps of eateries along the walk. Darling Square, King Street Wharf, Barangaroo, The Rocks and Circular Quay all have plenty of restaurants and food stalls. There is also the ‘Vivid Fire Kitchen’ along The Goods Line. There you can refuel by the fire pit with food from some of Sydney’s best eateries.

Are there guided walking tours I can join?

  • Watch this space! ? At Wake Up! Sydney, we will have special edition guided walking tours during Vivid for our hostel guests.

How do I get back to Central Station from Circular Quay?

  • From Circular Quay, you can take the train or tram back to Central Station. Both the train and tram run at regular intervals, and will take you around 10 minutes (train) or 15 minutes (tram).

Can I enter the Royal Botanic Gardens?

  • There are more amazing Vivid Sydney lights to see in the Royal Botanic Gardens, but you’ll need to purchase a ticket to access this area. Tickets are from $30.

Is the Light Walk free?

  • It is totally free to do this self-guided light walk, and all of the light installations detailed below are free for you to enjoy! There are also heaps more paid events you might like to check out. See our Must-See Vivid Sydney Experiences for more ideas, or check out the Vivid Sydney website.

Where is the best place to stay during Vivid Sydney?

  • Call us biased, but Wake Up! Sydney Central is an ideal place to stay during the festival. Our award-winning hotel is located directly opposite Central Station, which means you’ll have lights literally outside your door, as well as being in the best spot for public transport to see so many of the Vivid events. Even better, we will be running special edition Vivid events for our guests, including guided light-walk tours, Vivid night parties, a vivid-themed pub crawl, and more! Affordable accommodation, convenient, and a whole lotta fun!

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