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Vivid - Ken Done - For Sydney With Love
Photograph: Supplied/Vivid Sydney | Ken Done stands with his Vivid artwork 'For Sydney With Love'

The six best things to see during Vivid 2022

Here’s Time Out Sydney’s hit list of the best illuminations to see this Vivid

Alannah Maher
Written by
Alannah Maher
Contributor
Maya Skidmore
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This year’s Vivid festivities boast the biggest light walk ever, so big in fact, that light lookers are encouraged to tackle it over multiple nights. With such a mind boggling imprint of glowing marvels, it can be difficult to figure out where to start! Don't fret though, we’re here to help with our Vivid 2022 hit list. So layer up warmly, wear comfy walking shoes, and get ready to light up the night! Vivid is on every night until Saturday, June 18.

For a deeper look, read our chat with artists Ken Done and Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran about giving Vivid a glow up.

Prefer your art indoors? Here's our picks of the best exhibitions to see in Sydney this month.

For Sydney With Love
Photograph: Supplied/Spinifex Group | 'For Sydney With Love', Ken Done and Spinifex Group

For Sydney With Love

Where is it: Circular Quay

What is it: In a match so on point that we can’t believe it hasn’t happened before, legendary Australian artist Ken Done presents his first contribution to Vivid this year, For Sydney With Love, and it’s a love letter to Sydney as big as a building – the Customs House building, to be exact. The animated presentation begins with Done’s arm appearing to reach across the building’s facade before drifting and transforming into a series of moving paintings, including a lot of the work he created for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, set to the music of Australian jazz musician James Morrison. It is well worth sitting through the whole thing.

While you’re in the area: Of course, at Circular Quay you are in the vicinity of some other iconic Vivid illuminations – the Sydney Opera House, the MCA building, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Hidden next door to Customs House in the Gateway (that building full of restaurants) is a cool interactive work called Brainlight from local artist Laura Jade, which allows you to see your unique “neural signature” in real time. Another good hidden work in the area is Temple, a “temple to nature” composed of superscale visuals of birds in flight and a reflection pool. From Customs House, walk halfway up Loftus Street (away from the water) to find it. 

Vivid Reflections
Photograph: Supplied/Destination NSW

Vivid Reflections

Where is it: Central Station

What is it: As part of this year’s biggest ever Vivid light walk, the heritage facade of Sydney’s Central Station is being illuminated for the first time with an interactive display, Vivid Reflections, from Aussie collective The Electric Canvas. Set in the western forecourt of Central Station (on the Railway Square side), you can bust a groove and motion capture technology will turn your movements into animated action, which then beams your dance moves onto the landmark clock tower. The projections here are designed to take you on a journey through all the things that make Sydney unique, from the hot sands of Bondi Beach to the city’s colourful nightlife.

While you’re in the area: From Central Station, wander down the Goods Line to discover illuminated delights along another path that has previously never been touched by the lights of Vivid. Below the station, the Goods Line Tunnel, a nearly forgotten landmark, is transformed into an immersive environment spliced by over 100 custom moving lasers for Convergence. Continue your stroll up the Goods Line and you’ll come across many intriguing works, including the rather endearing A Mirrored City, featuring miniature vignettes of Sydney life. Will you recognise Oxford Street, the Northern Beaches, a game of backyard cricket, and the late-night allure of Kings Cross?

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Earth Deities
Photograph: Supplied

Earth Deities

Where is it: The Rocks/Walsh Bay

What is it: A seven-metre-tall, hand-painted, multi-limbed sculpture with four faces, 98 lighting channels and smoke machines towers over a corner of Hickson Road Reserve during this year’s Vivid festivities, and it demands our devotion. Created by radical ceramic artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Earth Deities is flanked by three Sydney icons: the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and Luna Park. The artist wanted to “create a dialogue around what an iconic figurative sculpture could be in a place like Sydney”, and it's unlike anything you’d usually see at Vivid. 

While you’re in the area: You’ll find some reimagined traffic lights in the Rocks. Crosswalk This Way takes the familiar ‘don’t walk/walk’ instructions of pedestrian crosswalks and introduces fun new suggestions such as stand/dance, hold hands/kiss and different symbolic actions.

Wild Lights at Taronga Zoo
Photograph: Supplied/Destination NSW

Wild Lights at Taronga Zoo

Where is it: Taronga Zoo, duh

What is it: An incredible and massive interactive light walk has taken over Sydney’s oldest zoo. At Wild Lights at Taronga Zoo you'll discover neon lions, a skytrain lit up with red light and countless giant interactive glowing sculptures. Wander through the marked out light path and stumble across hundreds of glow-in-the-dark treasures, while gazing out across a Sydney Harbour doused in Vivid’s many rainbows.

While you’re in the area: If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the curious elephants after dark, right by the iridescent jellyfish that light up with crazy colours the faster you twirl. 

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Sydney Infinity
Photograph: Supplied/Vivid

Sydney Infinity

Where is it: Darling Harbour

What is it: This is probably the closest you’ll get to the bright and aquatic lights of the Bellagio in Las Vegas without your passport. Designed and purpose built for Vivid Sydney, hundreds of multi-textured jets and nozzles fan water into shifting shapes and expressive fountains, all set to a soundtrack that delves into the soul of Sydney. That’s right, 48 nozzles will shoot nine tonnes of water per second, all while illuminated and dancing across the harbour.

While you’re in the area: Wander up to Darling Quarter to discover Bump in the Night. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you’ve stumbled into a peaceful campsite, with muffled snores heard from within the tents. But as you walk through and start to make noise, the campers begin to wake up and flashlights are waved about. 

Ephemeral Oceanic
Photograph: Supplied/Destination NSW

Ephemeral Oceanic

Where is it: Walsh Bay

What is it: Bubbles! Gigantic, iridescent bubbles! Down between the wharves that home Sydney’s finest performing arts companies, you can walk out over the harbour waters on a specially constructed floating boardwalk that weaves between 150 larger-than-life illuminated spheres. The orbs change colour throughout the night and also illuminate the surface of the water. Ephemeral Oceanic is one of the few Vivid installations that looks beautiful during daylight hours too. 

While you’re in the area: Your exploration of Ephemeral Oceanic can be easily tacked on to a parambulation around the lights of Circular Quay and Walsh Bay. Just follow the Quay around to Hickson Road Reserve, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge (which is being lit up on both sides for the first time this year, and you’ll get a vantage point of both) and continue up Hickson Road. Make sure you have comfy walking shoes on! Be prepared for steep stairs and you can circle back through the Rocks for a night cap. 

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