For its 9th consecutive year, Vivid Sydney is ready to light up Sydney in a two-week blinding display of light installations, talks, and music events. It is busy. It is full. It is unmissable. Here are the highlights, and how to tackle it like a pro.

First, download the Vivid app, and use it to plan and save your trip and adjust on the fly. A few of these installations are off the beaten path, so you may need the app to discover them or lead you to them.

Mobile photography

There’s no shortage of mobiles, selfie-sticks, and (sadly) tablets fighting for space amongst the Vivid crowds, but it’s too easy for images to turnout… lacklustre. Our friends at Huawei, official partners of Vivid Sydney 2017, know a thing or two about mobile photography, and kindly agreed to share some pro tips for capturing the festival in all its glory. We took some shots with the Huawei P10, making the most of the Leica dual camera, which captures 2x more light to transform low-light or nighttime photography. No matter which device you’re using, make sure you activate night mode, don’t zoom (edit later), and be sure to turn off you flash.


The most obvious destination on the Vivid line-up is the Darling Harbour walk. Snaking from Circular Quay to Milson’s Point, the walk of 60+ exhibits sees thousands of people over the two weeks walking down between light sculptures. Sydneyland might be the most Instagrammed installation of the event. A Hollywood-style lettering project designed to have maximum visibility in Sydney’s foreshore, each letter uses LEDs to project an array of colour. Like the Tunnel of Light last year, expect to see it crop up all over your feeds this Vivid. However, don’t forget the other parts of the city…

In the Botanic Gardens, dandelion-like installations for SPREADING LIFE use the garden setting to interact with people when they blow on it, lighting up into smaller seeds. Up the road off Loftus St, Tidal uses real-time tidal data and audio to tell stories of Australia’s origin and history, from the Dreamtime to the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Lights are on at 6pm every night. Don’t miss the MCA, where projections by Julia Gorman and Danny Rose are projection-mapped onto the building to create an undulating, organic mass that psychedelically shifts onto itself. Trapdoor, in Barangaroo, tells participants to jump onto the floor as the ground breaks apart and reveals subterranean worlds. And Taronga Zoo, on the north of the harbour, is a double threat with stunning views of the harbour and light sculptures of animals spotted around the park perfect for a photo.

Magicians of the Mist? More like Magicians of the Must!

The enormous production in Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, will throw 28 tonnes of water in the air every single minute to be manipulated by projections, lasers, jets of flame, fireworks, and searchlights. It’s a shining light of the overlap between art, technology, and what the two can accomplish together.

There’s more spaces than the CBD to explore, and some lie off the beaten track. To get away from the crowd, try Chatswood in Sydney’s northern suburbs. There’s six installations across the walk, from breaking bridges, to primordial pits that could be the perfect place to take children, as the crowds will be far less intense than on the foreshore.


There are a host of useful talks, workshops and shows at Vivid this year. The festival offers conferences and meetups like The Future of Work is Freelance to discuss the changing face of freelance work, the pro’s and cons, and how to use the latest tech to organise yourself. There’s also Redefining the Future of Freelance, which looks at the changing role of agencies and freelancers in the creative arts.

For the kids, Kids/Code/Create is a workshop to allow them to program their own Vivid installation using code, light, and music, and possibly put them down the programming path. Older tech heads will want to have a look at the 3D Printing and Future Technologies Shaping Design workshop which explores how rapid prototyping will influence design, manufacturing, and technology.

Creative types will want to attend Shepard Fairey’s presentation — his knack for producing culturally significant design pieces like the Barack Obama Hope campaign see him presenting the Game-Changer Talk, paint a public installation, and present a public exhibition displayed in the Darling Quarter. Finally, festival CURVY: Creative Women’s Conference showcases boundary-breaking women for the eleventh year straight.

While Vodafone is not an official partner of Vivid Sydney, we are passionate about new ideas and technology

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Tanya Phull

Head of Social Media

Tanya Phull,
Head of Social Media

As head of social media at Vodafone, Tanya is an expert in customer engagement and emerging platforms. As an American-born expat and wanderluster, Tanya is always equipped with the best tech tips for travellers.