Tips and Tricks to Make the Most of your Vivid Sydney Trip

Planning a visit to one of the most dazzling light shows on the planet? Check out our handy Vivid Sydney survival guide here.

What is Vivid Sydney? It’s only one of the most fabulous light installations and music events in this great city Down Under! Incredible 3D projection mapping on the iconic buildings and landmarks, cool light installations, upbeat music blasting from outdoor speakers, and A WHOLE LOT MORE! One of Sydney’s most anticipated annual festivals, the event usually takes place around the end of autumn and start of winter (May/June). If you’re planning a visit in time for Vivid Sydney, here’s how you can make the most of it!

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide 1

1. Download the Vivid Sydney app

This annual festival has more than 100 things to see and experience. Unless you’re a Sydneysider, it’s almost impossible to pack every single event in a short trip. So, make sure to study the program and see which installations or events you don’t want to miss. Though it’s natural to want to maximise your time and try to fit in everything that you want to see, do take your sweet time to enjoy every single one.

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

2. Grab a free map and brochures

Be sure to score the free Vivid Sydney illustrated maps and souvenir edition guide books that are available at some hotels and restaurants all over the city for additional info you can’t find on the app. If you arrive here via the Kingsford International Airport, grab the Official Sydney Guide and the Sydney Shopping Guide & Walking Tours to fill your days with interesting activities.

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

3. Plan your nights

How many days will you be in Sydney? We recommend a minimum of three nights to visit at least three of the main areas – Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Chatswood, and/or Central Park. Better if you can make it four or more nights, as there really is so much to see and experience!

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

4. Use public transportation

Make use of Sydney’s reliable public transport to get to your intended destination. Buses run regularly and it’s also pretty exciting to ride the city’s double decker trains! You can purchase the Opal card which can be used for buses, trains, and ferries easily at selected train stations and 7 Eleven stores. The card costs AUD 10 with preloaded credit and you can top up as you travel.

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

5. Prepare for rainy weather

Winter in Sydney sometimes comes with drizzles, so best to hold on to your umbrella or rain poncho just in case. And if you happen to get stuck on a rainy day, you can still make the most of it by indulging in a cup of delightful hot chocolate. We recommend Max Brenner’s, Lindt, and Guylian cafes.

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

6. Catch sunset at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

One of the best spots for sunset watching in Sydney. The sun goes down at 5pm during winter, so take a moment to enjoy Sydney’s truly gorgeous skyline as you wait for the first lights at Harbour Bridge to pop up at 6pm.

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

7. Catch a show

A show at Sydney Opera House is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but there are also lots of other truly cool shows all over the city, so do check out the event listings and see which ones you would like to catch. Plenty of big names come to perform during Vivid Sydney, and for 2016 these include Bjork, New Order, and Bon Iver.

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

8. Come early in the week

The weekend is always the busiest time during the festival. It’s best to plan a visit during the early days of the week so you won’t have to compete with other people for that amazing shot of the Sydney Opera House. Not that it doesn’t look great from any angle, by the way!

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

9. Watch the fireworks at Darling Harbour

The light, water, and sound show at Darling Harbour occurs every half an hour, but make a note to arrive here early as the nightly fireworks take place during its 8pm slot. Afterwards, you can still enjoy the show whilst enjoying crocodile patty burger at Blackbird Café, or head to Nick’s Seafood Restaurant which serves delicious seafood platter if you’re feeling fancy. Both restaurants offer great views of the show.

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

10. Take note of closing time

Most of the light installations shut down at 11pm sharp, so remember not to leave your visit to the very last minute!

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

11. Have late night supper at Pancakes on the Rocks

And then what else is there to do when the lights are turned off? Sink your teeth into delicious pancakes at Sydney’s legendary Pancakes on the Rocks. We highly recommend the Strawberry Patch, a sinfully filling plate of buttermilk pancakes, cream, vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries and strawberry coulis!

Vivid Sydney Survival Guide

Vivid Sydney is ongoing now till 15 June 2019. For full event listings and more info, visit

GETTING THERE: AirAsia X flies to Sydney from Kuala Lumpur. For lowest fares and flight info visit

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Written by Irvin Hanni

Irvin enjoys conversations with the trees and the stars. Sometimes they share recipes, sometimes they share jokes.

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