Vivid Sydney is back with over 60 light shows displayed across the city

"For Sydney With Love" by Ken Done is projected onto Customs House for Vivid Sydney. Photo: Destination NSW.

Celebrating its 12th year, Vivid Sydney combines animation, installation art, music and storytelling in collaboration with some of the art world’s most acclaimed creatives. Arts and entertainment editor Tahli Blackman takes us on a tour of the main attractions of Vivid 2022. 

This year’s long-awaited festival of light, Vivid Sydney has one of the most impressive light walks to date. Eight kilometres of Sydney’s streets, significant buildings and public venues have been transformed into a circus of light after dark from 6pm to 11pm for 23 days. 

The first night of Vivid kicked off on Friday, 27 May with a bang. An impressive five-minute display of fireworks came off of the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and boats in the harbour. However, no need to worry if you missed this display on the first night – the Vivid light walk more than makes up for it. 

Vivid Sydney Light Program video showing some of this year’s best works. Video: Vivid Sydney/YouTube.

A guide for the best Vivid experience

There’s never any parking in the city and certainly not when Vivid is on. Catch the train into Circular Quay station and start there. As you exit you’ll notice Endless Love, an installation by Michaela Gleave is atop the Circular Quay train station. This is only the beginning of the vibrant works you’ll see on your adventurous night.

Enter through the gates and follow the arrows pointing towards the Sydney Opera House before lights on at 6pm, you’ll want to start there. 

Each year a new internationally-renowned artist is commissioned to create an original artwork to be projected onto the Sydney Opera House for Vivid. This year the Martumili Artists in collaboration with Sydney-based technologists Curiious were picked to exhibit their First Nations work Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground for the Lighting of the Sails. This artwork represents an intimate connection with the country and tells the stories of Martumili Artists. 

From this location in Bennelong Point, spectators will also be able to absorb the Vivid lights on Sydney Harbour, which becomes a part of the Sydney Opera House display. 

Many people stopped at First Fleet Park to take a photo with the Vivid Sydney sign on the first night of the light festival. Photo: Tahli Blackman.

Once you’ve spent enough time there, make your way down to Customs House on Alfred Street to witness the artwork For Sydney With Love by Ken Done in collaboration with musician James Morrison and the Spinifex Group. This work is projected onto the building, celebrating the city of Sydney as the artist’s muse. For Sydney With Love is a combination of colour and upbeat jazz music that is the perfect second stop for families with children.

Following the arrows, you’ll find yourself walking through First Fleet Park and wanting to stop at the lit-up Vivid Sydney sign for photos. Your eyes will be drawn to the multi-sensory work Gravitational Grid by Australian artists Jobe Williams and Tomas Kacerik of REELIZE.STUDIO. This sculpture explores the phenomenon of gravity as a force that binds us together. It uses lots of dramatic electronic sound and a lot of strobe light effects. 

Staying in Circular Quay and The Rocks, walk through the park and up to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) to witness New York Sunday by Helen Eager, Julian Reinhold and Rico Reinhold. This eight-minute visual journey shows colours and lines shape-shifting across the museum walls and is definitely a highlight of the Vivid light shows. Explore the MCA while you’re there if you’ve never been. 

The immersive sculptural form Gravitational Grid uses dramatic sound and strobe lighting to spark curiousness amongst audiences. Photo: Tahli Blackman.

After this point, you’ve probably seen the many food trucks lined up to feed the spectators of Vivid this year. Head over to Gods of Greek for a kebab or to Catch for some fish and chips. On the other hand, if you’re feeling something sweet, go to Joe’s Ice Cream or Waffle Popz for some delicious desserts that you can eat while continuing your walk. 

The journey continues

You may want to put your food down once you run into Earth Deities by Ramesh Nithiyendran. This large-scale contemporary sculpture instantly takes you back with its dramatic lighting and sound. The part-idol, part-monster figure towers over a corner of Hickson Road Reserve, strategically positioned between famous Sydney landmarks – the Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and the Luna Park entrance from afar. 

Artist Ramesh Nithiyendran will be speaking about this work and his artistic practice at the free Vivid Ideas X Australian Museum event Soul of the City on Wednesday, 15 June at 6:30pm. Try to attend if you’re dying to know more about the piece. 

Continue through The Rocks and you’re on your way to Walsh Bay. Here you’ll find instant joy coming from the installation Ephemeral Oceanic by Zara Pasfield and Renzo B. Larriviere, both from Sydney-based design studio Atelier Sisu. This experience encapsulates what Vivid is about. Spectators step onto a floating boardwalk that holds over 150 illuminated spheres in different sizes, transforming the wharf into a giant bubble bath for everyone to enjoy. 

Ephemeral Oceanic by Atelier Sisu turns Wharf Bay into a giant bubble bath that encourages audiences to think about the fragility of our earth. Photo: Destination NSW.

Ephemeral Oceanic truly creates an experience of childlike wonder for all audiences. The iridescent orbs which are lit from within change colour throughout the night. The artist encourages everyone to think about the world as a space of fragility, as delicate as bubbles floating on water. 

Don’t get stuck here, continue walking through Walsh Bay to view the other installations including Light Sentinels by Nick Athanasiou and Celestial by Studio John Fish

Where to now?

You’re now more than halfway through your light walk adventure and what’s left to explore are the light shows in Darling Harbour and Darling Quarter. The remainder of the eight-kilometre walk may be too much for you to complete in one night. You may want to visit Vivid again to explore more, or if you are on a mission to see it all, you’ll find some more amazing works up ahead. 

In Darling Harbour, you will see Macula by Julian Reinhold and Rico Reinhold, and the liquid and light show Sydney Infinity by Glenn Turner of Oracle Liquid. In Darling Quarter you will find the popular Bump In The Night in Tumbalong Park by James Dive and the walk through visual experience Vivid House by multiple collaborators on Harbour Street. 

Don’t miss out on experiencing this year’s Vivid light shows, plan your trip now. 

Vivid Sydney will run until Saturday, 18 June at multiple locations between Circular Quay and Central Station. For tickets to feature programs and further information, visit https://www.vividsydney.com.

Tahli Blackman is the arts and entertainment editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

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