‘Sydney at its best’: your Vivid 2019 survival guide
From Friday, Vivid will light up Sydney for its eleventh year. Aside from the light shows and sculptures popping up around the city and beyond, there will also be a program of ideas and music throughout the festival's 23 nights.
Tourism minister Stuart Ayres boasts that Vivid is "Sydney at its best" – but with more than two million people expected to attend the vast program of events, it's also, potentially, Sydney at its most overwhelming. Here's everything you need to know to get the most out of your Vivid experience.
The Royal Botanic Gardens will light up with an array of sculptures. Credit:Wolter Peeters
Austral Flora Ballet (May 24-June 15, Sydney Opera House)
Watch the Sydney Opera House come to life with a unique Australian botanic display. The design, by Los Angeles artist Andrew Thomas Huang, draws on contemporary dance and motion-capture technology to light up the site with many floral favourites such as waratahs and kangaroo paws.
Taronga Zoo Sydney (May 24-June 15, Taronga Zoo)
This year, the zoo's display aims to shine a light on endangered animals with light sculptures of a Sumatran tiger and her cubs, a marine turtle, busy bees and a larger-than-life gorilla family.
Trumpet Flowers (May 24-June 15, Victoria Avenue, Chatswood)
A set of trumpet keys, that visitors will be able to play, are hidden amongst the 40 towering trumpet flowers in Chatswood. Between visitors’ melodies, scheduled animated musicals will play throughout the evening.
The city will light up for Vivid Sydney 2019.Credit:Wolter Peeters
This year's Vivid Ideas program focuses on "exchanging ideas and promoting fresh thinking by getting the experts to tackle the big issues, such as mental health and wellbeing with creativity," according to the show's curator, Tory Loudon. "We want audiences to get involved and be inspired to think beyond the status quo, and find new and meaningful ways of living in this ever-increasing digitalised online world," Loudon said.
Speakers include film director and writer Spike Lee, poet Omar Musa and Pulitzer prize-winning author Sebastian Smee.
Vivid Art After Hours: 'Other' Voices (June 5, 6:30pm-10pm, Art Gallery of New South Wales)
Poet and author Omar Musa and artist Abdul Abdullah discuss issues of identity and culture in modern Australia. Afterward, Musa will perform a selection of his poems and singer Okenyo will deliver a unique performance with her electronic soul and pop voice.
Stories with impact: Backtrack Boys (May 29, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Museum of Contemporary Art)
Documentary Australia (DA) shines a light on Catherine Scott's Backtrack Boys, an award-winning documentary on a program helping kids at risk change their lives around. Speakers include DA CEO Dr Mitzi Goldman, filmmaker Catherine Scott and BackTrack founder Bernie Shakeshaft.
Vivid Sydney offers a spectacular range of ideas, music and lights. Credit:Wolter Peeters
Creative Thinking and Inventing for Kids (June 1, 11am-1pm, Museum of Contemporary Art)
This two-hour workshop, aimed at kids between the ages of 9 and 12, will set them a problem and encourage them to invent a creative solution.
Music lovers have a diverse range of genres to sample, from cabaret to The Cure.
Kate Miller-Heidke and Iain Grandage (May 29, 7:30pm-9:30pm, City Recital Hall)
Join singer Kate Miller-Heidke and composer Iain Grandage for a performance that effortlessly combines indie, pop and opera.
Paul Kelly in Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds (June 1, 7:30pm, City Recital Hall)
Australian music legend Paul Kelly and leading Australian composer James Ledger will perform 13 new songs and soundscapes inspired by birds. They will be joined by celebrated piano trio Seraphim and singer-songwriter Alice Keath.
Herbie Hancock (June 10, 4:30pm – 7:30pm, Sydney Opera House Concert Hall)
Jazz legend Herbie Hancock will draw upon his innovative, influential six-decade career of jazz, fusion, funk, electro, hip-hop and beyond, for a one-night performance.
Many restaurants will offer themed dishes and special menus.
Chatswood: Glow in the dark fairy floss from Chatswood Mall; special dumplings, bao buns and noodles from Chinatown Noodle; and an exclusive Gelatissimo strawberry bubblegum gelato.
Sydney city: Giant Rainbow Dumplings from Din Tai Fung, Gelato Messina’s Blacklight Dessert Lab.
Almost 5,000 extra public transport services will be running to help get crowds to and from Vivid. The festival will be busiest on Friday and weekends, especially the long weekend, "so consider visiting on a weeknight to avoid peak crowds or plan your visit over a few days," a NSW transport spokesperson said.
Metro: With the new Northwest Metro line opening on May 26, services will take you quickly between Tallawong Station in Rouse Hill and Chatswood station.
With thousands of visitors heading to Vivid, people are encouraged to plan their trip. Credit:Wolter Peeters
Last services from Chatswood to Tallawong leave at 12:45am on Thursday nights and at 1:45am on Friday and Saturday nights. A late-night bus will run on Sunday to Wednesday while Sydney Metro grows to full operations. The first northwest night bus service departs Tallawong at 9:25pm and Chatswood at 10:10pm.
Trains: All Vivid Sydney light displays are a short walk from train stations.
From May 24 to June 15, trains will run frequently to the city on weekdays and every 10 to 15 minutes on the weekend. Due to large crowds, trains will not stop at Circular Quay between 6:30pm and 9:30pm on Saturday nights and the long weekend.
Bus: There will be extra bus services over the next 23 days, but some services will be using alternate routes and stops. Roads in the city are closed for the event from 6pm on Friday nights and 5pm on weekends (including June 10) until midnight.
Ferry: Vivid attendees catching ferries are encouraged to have a back-up plan as long queues and delays to services are likely to start to reach capacity from early afternoon.
Accessibility: This year, Tumbalong Park in Darling Harbour has been transformed into an inclusive playground, complete with activities and light displays by artists with disabilities. The western boardwalk at the Sydney Opera House (open from 6pm each night), Hickson Road Reserve at Dawes Point and viewing areas on the western promenade of Cockle Bay offer less obstructed views, away from the crowds.
For more information, visit https://www.vividsydney.com.
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