Events / Installation / Public Space

Vivid Sydney. Lights ON

Vivid Sydney 2017, Harbour Lights. 26/5/2017 Photo James Horan/Destination NSW

Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music, and ideas has been running for two weeks already with a seemingly endless program of visual arts and installations.

Where to begin?

Projections on Buildings (and Water!)

If you’re in the camp that large-scale light projections on buildings are like fireworks – it doesn’t get old no matter how many times you see it – then join us at one of these outdoor installations. BYO a warm coat as you may want to stay outdoors all night.


The ultimate canvas, the Sails of the Sydney Opera House feature Audio Creatures (left), an indescribable world of colour and light, featuring imaginary sea creatures lurking deep in the harbour and shimmering plant life.

The Museum of Contemporary Art features Organic Vibrations (middle). Abstract images drawn from the shapes and colours of the natural world appear to grow organically until they cover the severe and geometric art deco facade of the Museum.

Magicians of the Mist (right) is an extraordinary work blurring the line between art and technology, which now defines the digital era: 12 massive pumps throw 28 tonnes of water into the air every minute; huge projections shine on walls of water 60 metres wide and 40 metres high. Lasers, fountains, jets of flame (!), music, fireworks, fireballs (!!), LEDs and searchlights are all controlled through a computer interface in the hands of a master fountaineer and laser artist.

Bright Objects You Can Touch

Time to get involved with these stay-and-play installation highlights.

Kids and adults can jump on the playground horse Never Ends (top left) and something magical happens—everything changes and the lights on the platform spring into action.

The Sunflowers (bottom) welcomes each visitor with a bow. This joyous light sculpture assembles a harvest of potted sunflowers along a walkway with an east–west orientation, allowing maximum exposure to the sun. Solar panels harness energy from the sun during the day and store it in batteries embedded in the flowers: at night the stored energy is used to brighten LEDs in the petals and to facilitate the ‘bowing’ movement.

MUSICbox (top right) lets participants see their own musical compositions translated into unique displays of colour and fantasy. Individuals are invited to step into one of four themed 3D spaces, each acting as a ‘stage’ on which an interactive ‘keyboard’ is projected onto the ground. By playing the ‘instrument’, participants access a unique soundscape with every note represented both as an audio and visual element. Together they combine to produce a constantly changing performance to entertain spectators and engage those passing by.

Mailbox uses the traditional shape of a post box with an illuminated LED façade to recreate messages as an entertaining interactive experience.


More than 400 Vivid Music events will be held across the city alongside 280 Vivid Ideas events including the Game-Changers Talk Series with American contemporary artists Shephard Fairey, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti and Academy Award winning director Oliver Stone.

Special effects and animations are found at every turn, from the ground below visitors’ feet at Barangaroo (South), to Darling Harbour’s Magicians of the Mist. North of the harbour, a steampunk waterworld themed adventure awaits in Chatswood, while giant illuminated lanterns of endangered animals are sparking conversations about conservation at Taronga Zoo.

The festival is complete with an abundance of maps, apps, and guides to help you get around. Including a Vivid Sydney Audio Trail guide.

There’s still time to step out and catch one of the seven light precincts and more than 90 large scale installations and projections. Festival on until 17 June 2017.

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One thought on “Vivid Sydney. Lights ON

  1. Pingback: Good Reading: Public Art and its Feel-Good Hit | After the Splash

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