Vivid is back. No really, we mean it this time! Sydney’s ill-fated flagship winter festival of lights, entertainment and ideas has had a rough couple of years, with its 2020 iteration cancelled due to the first lockdown, and then its 2021 program, which had been billed as its triumphant return with a line-up bigger than any previous outing, was derailed by the Delta surge that thrust the city into another large scale lockdown for more than quarter of a year.
After such a long hiatus, the return of this familiar stalwart of Sydney’s cultural calendar is ready to make up for lost time, with a program on a scale never before attempted by Vivid. Which stands to reason, given that this is the debut program from Vivid’s latest director Gill Minervini, who clearly hopes to make a good first impression on the Sydneysiders who have been fangin’ for the fest for more than two years.
The festivities commence on May 27 through to June 18, with mesmerising art displays, 3D light projections, uplifting live music performances and deep-dive discussions lighting up 11 locations over 23 nights.
The longest continuous light walk in Vivid history will illuminate the Sydney foreshore, stretching over eight kilometres, linking the Sydney Opera House to Central Station, with more than 200 LED sculptural birds guiding the way as part of the Future Natives installation. “Vivid Sydney’s Light collection features work from a vast array of artists, from the renowned Ken Done and Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, to Luca French, an 11-year-old boy and the youngest artist ever to participate in the Light Walk. It’s very exciting to deliver a refreshed and surprising program that will enthral audiences,” says Minervini.
Never-before-lit buildings will add new sparkle to the city skyline this year; and an epic water sculpture in a scale never seen before in Australia will rise from the waters of Cockle Bay in Darling Harbour, the show stopping Sydney Infinity by Oracle Liquid, incorporating 12 80-metre high water shooters and dramatic lighting supported by a Sydney
inspired soundtrack from DJ Pee Wee Ferris. At Walsh Bay, Sydneysiders can experience one of the most daring installations in Vivid’s 12-year history. Ephemeral, created by Sydney-based artist Atelier Sisu, will allow visitors to walk out over the harbour waters on a specially constructed jetty. More than 200 giant bubble-like spheres, hovering eight-metres above this floating walkway, will pulse with hypnotic, otherworldly patterns.
The star of the Lights program is, unsurprisingly, the installation shone onto the most instantly recognisable projector screen in the world, the Sydney Opera House. In 2022, those distinctive sails will be drenched in colour as the vibrant Aboriginal artwork Yarrkalpa (Hunting Ground) by the Martu Artists of the Pilbara region is translated into a digital format by Curiios, set to a thrilling soundtrack by Electric Fields in collaboration with the Martu Artists.
But even this Opera House-sized masterpiece is dwarfed by this year’s largest installation, one of the largest ever staged by Vivid. Mandylights’ Our Connected City will light up the entire city skyline along Circular Quay and the Cahill Expressway as well as the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. More than 200 carefully choreographed searchlights will turn this vast swathe of the city into a kaleidoscope of shifting colours and patterns stretching from Bennelong Point all the way across the water to Milsons Point.
Of course, Vivid isn’t just about beautiful lights. The Vivid Ideas and Vivid Music programs bring big conversations and major music acts to the fore, and the Vivid Live program will transform the Sydney Opera House inside and out, celebrating artists at the forefront of their genres.
Time Out Sydney will be bringing you more festival highlights and inspiration, and you can find out more at vividsydney.com.