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The best things to see at Vivid Light

Take a moth's tour of Sydney and seek out these light artworks after dark
Artist's render of Andrew Thomas Huang's projection on the sails of Sydney Opera House
Image: Supplied Andrew Thomas Huang, 'Austral Floral Ballet'

Prepare for the streets to be flooded with tourists, Instagrammers and loved-up winter couples, becasue Vivid Sydney is back (shock) from May 24 to June 15. As has been the trend for a decade now, there will be luminous installations shining every night from 6-11pm, alongside a healthy itinerary of talks and gigs for the big winter V.

The glowing trails will stretch from the Botanic Gardens to Darling Harbour, once again take over Luna Park and Taronga Zoo, and also pop-up again at Chatswood with all kinds of interactive displays. If you're keen to get amongst it, make sure you stop in at one of Sydney's award-wining bars for booze-fuel and bar snacks that'll prepare you to face the Circular Quay crowds.

The top Vivid Light installations

Artists impression of Vivid light installation on the MCA.
Image: Supplied

Let Me Down

We always love to see one of Sydney’s most exciting artists get a chance to take over a major canvas at Vivid Sydney, and this year we’re most excited about Colombian-born, Sydney-based Claudia Nicholson’s projection on the façade of the Museum of Contemporary Art. She’s best known for her contemporary takes on Colombian traditions; she makes floral arrangements and the colourful ‘alfombra de aserrín’ a traditional carpet-like artwork created painstakingly over several days using sawdust, glitter and pigment. Four of these artworks will be adapted for a large-scale animation.

Firefly-like lights in the Royal Botanic Garden.
Image: Supplied

Firefly Field

There are only a few bugs that inspire a sense of romanticism – butterflies maybe, or ladybugs for their duds – but there’s something dreamy about fireflies and their glowing gracefulness. That’s probably why Dutch artist collective Toer created this delicate light installation simulating a family of 500 fireflies. It will appear to hover above the ground and show the blinking, light-up ritual of fireflies looking for love during mating season. In reality, it’ll be built on a superfine steel structure with flexing rods that give a mesmerising movement to the installation at the Royal Botanic Garden.

An artists impression of the Vivid light installation on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Image: Supplied
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Eora: Broken Spear

icon-location-pin Sydney Harbour, Sydney

The Sydney Opera House’s head of Indigenous programming Rhoda Roberts (one of our favourite artistic leaders in the city) is creating ‘Eora: Broken Spear’, a projection work that pays tribute to the country which we live upon and its original custodians. The title is a reflection on the actions of peace-seeking members of the Indigenous Australian community responding to First Contact and western invasion. While some raised spears in defense, a knowledge keeper carried a spear with a broken tip, which is a sign of peace and respect.

Image of the Opera House at Vivid.
Image: Supplied
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Austral Floral Ballet

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney

For 2019, the Opera House sails-lighting honour goes to Andrew Thomas Huang, a Los Angeles-based artist who directed several Björk videos. His work features native flora moving like a dancer performing across the sails. You’ll see kangaroo paws, red beard orchards, waratahs and other native species in a colour pallet of movement based on choreography by Toogie Barcelo, performed by dancer Genna Moroni. The fluid, arching movements are an ode to the architectural design of the Opera House.

An artists impression of a Vivid Sydney light installation.
Image: Supplied

Let it Snow

If you’re in the market for an internet-breaking Instagram post or a new DP, seek out this cascading waterfall of light by artists Jing Li and Lawrence Liang. The Circular Quay installation allows light-seekers to walk through a cloud of LED bulbs which replicate that pumping Thredbo snow machine. The tendrils of light will react to pedestrian movement and the weather, so you’ll really feel like you’re in the tundra once the crowds gather.

Eat famous Sydney dishes while you play tourist

Food at A1 Canteen
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Sydney’s new wave of cult menu items

From Quay’s Snow Egg and Golden Century’s pipis in XO sauce, to Black Star’s strawberry and watermelon cake, Sydney loves to love a cult dish. But what will we be eating again and again in 2019? 

More to explore