Where to go, eat and stay during Vivid Sydney
Winter is here, and with the advent of darker, colder nights also comes a beacon of hope. Vivid Sydney is the annual festival that’s undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Sydney during winter, never failing to bring some much-needed light and colour during the chillier months.
This year is better than ever, with a spectacular lineup of events and boundary-pushing installations, many of the highlights being centred around Darling Harbour. We’ve compiled some itineraries for families, social butterflies and cocktail aficionados so you can get the most out of your Vivid Sydney experience in this vibrant precinct.
Start your Vivid Sydney outing with a visit to WILD LIFE Zoo Sydney - ever wondered what your favourite animals at the zoo get up to after dark? Well now’s your rare chance to find out at with WILD NIGHTS Zoo Tours. Or surround yourself with majestic sea creatures at SEA LIFE Aquarium Sydney with the glow of a different using a combination of art and technology, you’re guaranteed show-stopping day or night out.
Then it’s time to venture out into the night and discover all the exciting 3D projections and light installations. Wander at your own pace and stop to explore the ones that catch your eye. There are a few to look out for!
Those bellies will be getting hungry by now... fill them up at one of the many kid-friendly eateries around Darling Harbour. Fratelli Fresh is sure to be a favourite, with views of the light installations nearby and their kids menu features simplified Italian classics, including spaghetti with butter and parmesan and a cheesy pizza with tomato and mozzarella.
At the southern end of Darling Harbour, you’ll find Night Walkers, the first of eight supersize wondrous amphibians scattered around the city representing an endangered species of frog; head to their nearby panels to hear their individual frog songs.
Then challenge wander down to Darling Quarter to find Spectrum of Happiness - a giant sized swingset with LED tubes and balls attached to each swing! Sway away and create a beaming rainbow, as your movement activates the lights, and expect instant and infectious happiness, no matter how young or old you are!
As you make your way from along the harbourfront, you won’t be able to walk past Elemental. It’s Australia’s largest ever choreographed liquid light show and combines 80 metre water shooters, flames, projection and pyro technics over Cockle Bay – this 10 minute water-show is an essential stop on the Vivid Light Walk.There are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the show – it’s visible all around the south end of Darling Harbour as well as Pyrmont Bridge.
No doubt all that exploring would leave you and the tribe exhausted, why not spend the night at Novotel Darling Square, which is offering a special Vivid Sydney package for families. The package includes a buffet breakfast for a Vivid cocktail or mocktail for two at PS Wine Cafe or Pumphouse Sydney, Vivid-themed gift and map, plus late check-out at 12:00pm
Break up your Vivid Sydney trail with a cocktail trail inspired by the festival’s lights and colours. Remember to drink responsibly and check out the installations in between each stop!
Don’t miss the $15 cocktails at these six Cockle Bay spots, all featuring a free glowing glass to take home after. There’s also a Purple Rain and more funky cocktails at Pumphouse, limited edition Vivid cocktails paired with at PS Wine Cafe and a Churrasco Smoked Raspberry cocktail at Braza Churrascaria that’s guaranteed to kick your night up a notch.
Feeling boujee? Head to Zephyr to taste their Vivid specials including Glow your mind, featuring lychee liquor - or visit Champagne Bar in the Sofitel and enjoy a collab between Bombay Sapphire and Australian Contemporary Artist, Elliott Routledge featuring original artworks, and one-off Vivid cocktails.
For the social butterflies...
Kick off your night at Pumphouse Sydney to dine at their exclusive Vivid Sydney Gin Dinners. Enjoy a three course shared seafood menu paired with award-winning gins from Beachtree Distilling Co. Or head to any of the restaurants and bars at Cockle Bay Wharf for stunning views of Elemental and $15 cocktails served in an illuminated glass that you get to take home.
Spend time exploring the many projections and installations then head over to Darling Quarter and discover the restaurants & bars offering delicious menu items, each highlighting a natural ingredient in line with this year's theme.
By now it’s time to go for a boogie at Tumbalong Park, where some of Australia’s hottest artists and up-and-coming acts will be playing free live shows embracing a range of genres. Rock up from 8pm on Wednesdays, 7pm Thursday-Friday and from 5pm on Saturdays.
If a DJ set is more up your alley, or you simply want to continue the party, head to The Goods Line for tunes that will perfectly accompany the lights around you.