Get thrifty: Here are our 6 favourite free things to do at Vivid Sydney this year

We've put together a guide to the best free events and experiences at Vivid Sydney 2024

Winnie Stubbs
Written by
Winnie Stubbs
Lifestyle Writer
Vivid Sydney 2023
Photograph: Supplied | Destination NSW | Ben SavageCrowds at Tumbalong Nights at Darling Harbour for Vivid Music during Vivid Sydney 2023

Sydney’s sparkliest time of year is almost over – with only two nights left to experience all that glitters at Vivid Sydney 2024. and now we’ve had the chance to explore this year’s luminous set-up, we thought we’d put together a round-up of the very best free things we’ve experienced this year at Vivid – because sometimes splashing out on tickets to the best parties in town just isn’t gonna happen. Thankfully, more than 60 per cent of this year’s Vivid program is free to attend – here’s our pick of the best bits.

Start your night at a panel discussion with some of the country’s leading thinkers

Popping up at Barangaroo House’s contemporary Japanese vinyl bar Rekodo, this (almost) daily event series brings together some of the country’s leading thinkers to discuss the matters of the day. Drawing on this year’s theme of Humanity, After the Fact gives you the chance to connect with and learn from your fellow humans before heading out into the night. Entry is free, but it’s hard to resist splashing out on a drink or two while you’re there (opt for the $10 mini Martini if you’re sticking to a strict budget). You can learn more about After the Fact here.

Wander around the Light Walk

The 8.5 kilometre Light Walk through the streets of Sydney is illuminated by a total of 30 light installations and 3D projections, and the majority (minus most notably Dark Spectrum in the Wynyard Tunnels and Lightscape in the Botanic Gardens) being entirely free. We’d suggest starting at Circular Quay for the most impressive intro (the Opera House is looking truly breathtaking this year), then working your way through the city to The Goods Line where you’ll find a pop-up food market serving up all sorts of (relatively affordable) flame-licked street food.

People walking during Vivid Sydney 2024
Photograph: Supplied | Destination NSW | Vivid Sydney 2024

Score a free gig at Tumbalong Park

As part of the Vivid music program, Tumbalong Park is playing host to twelve nights of free music at Sydney’s brand new $10 million live music venue. Upcoming headliners include Wildfire Manwurrk and Battlesnake (Thursday, June 6), Teenage Joans and Lola Scott (Thursday, June 13) and Budjerah and Jem Cassar-Daley (Saturday, June 15). You can learn more about Tumbalong Nights and plan your musical evening over here.

Catch a free jazz show in The Rocks

If you time your visit for a Thursday, you’ll be treated to a free alfresco jazz show in The Rocks – part of their delightful series which is running every Thursday throughout winter. While you’re there, you can see some of the very best light shows of this year’s Vivid, including an incredible moving artwork by Chinese-Australian artist Guan Wei which is playing across the eastern face of the MCA, and a striking artwork exploring the human relationship to artificial intelligence which is lighting up the ASN Clock Tower in the heart of The Rocks.

jazz in The Rocks
Photograph: Supplied | Anna Kucera

Take it all in from Sydney’s best lookouts

Though the parties and interactive experiences taking over venues across the city are pretty impressive, it’s entirely possible to experience the magic of Vivid without setting foot in the CBD. Adding to the various light shows changing the colour of the city’s skyline, there’s one artwork that’s having a particularly profound effect on our night time views this sparkly season. From Sydney Tower in the heart of the city, Yvette Mattern’s Global Rainbow is sending beams of light across the city, and it’s visible across a 40-kilometre stretch of central city. The best places to catch the views include our harbour beaches, Observatory Hill at Millers Point and the harbour-facing stretch of coastline north of the city. 

See Vivid from the water

While there are dedicated Vivid boat tours taking place throughout the sparkly season, catching one of Transport for NSW’s iconic green and yellow ferries will set you back around $7 – not quite free, but you’re scoring stellar Vivid views for less than you’d pay for a sandwich. (Plus, if you travel on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday you won’t pay more than $8.90 for a whole day of travel, so you can could theoretically spend all evening sailing around the harbour without breaking a $10 note).

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