The days may be getting shorter, but Sydney’s turning the lights on to keep the city shining bright during Vivid Sydney 2015.
The Vivid 2015 season has begun here in Sydney, bringing its biggest program yet with an abundance of festival firsts. Over the next 12 days, the festival of light, music and ideas will splash the city in colour, spin a lively soundtrack and spark the minds of Sydneysiders and visitors alike. All will be ablaze with colourful light installations and projections featured across the city. See the glowing Opera House Sails, morphing MCA façade, the luminescent water theatre in Darling Harbour and even the boats that dot the waters surrounding Sydney Town. While Sydney is illuminated, its residents and visitors will be enlightened. The festival’s Vivid LIVE brings a massive program of contemporary music for its seventh year in a row, while Vivid Ideas hosts a slew of seminars to discuss innovation, challenge thinking and bring new ideas to the table. And though the festival has already begun, there is still a ton on offer to see, hear and do.
Only have a day to discover Vivid Sydney 2015? Here’s your one night guide of places and events to hit while you paint the town red (and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ocher and peach and…)
Sydney’s new ‘urban village’, Central Park makes its Vivid debut this year as street art comes to life, markets light up the night and interactive entertainment keeps you coming back for more.
5:30pm aMBUSH Gallery, L3 Central Park, 28 Broadway, Chippendale
Head up to the aMBUSH gallery space to check out Streets Ahead and immerse yourself in the world of street art and streetwear through a one-off exhibit and Vivid Ideas talks with artists, designers and brands at the forefront of street culture. The exhibit displays works by all of the specially invited international speakers including Tony Arcabascio, jeffstable, Mishka, 123KLAN and L’Amour Supreme.
6pm aMBUSH Gallery, L3 Central Park, 28 Broadway, Chippendale
After the exhibit, find your way to the Newtown Hotel pop-up bar in the gallery’s event space for a drink and front-row view of the Streets Ahead light show, sparking up at 6pm. Watch as works by indigenous artist, Reko Rennie and multidisciplinary artist, Beastman dance across the heritage-listed CUB Brewery façade. The pop-up is also hosting an eclectic music program chock full of DJs and bands from all over the music spectrum. See the schedule here.
Grab a train from Central to Circular Quay to the literally beating heart of Vivid. Expect crowds, but also expect to be in total awe. Explore your surrounds as you step into a vibrant playground where light installations abound, set to a unique score of musical soundtracks and excited festivalgoers. Across from the station, Customs House enchants as its façade blossoms with Sydney’s flora and fauna, while next door, the New Zealand-Japan made Light Origami creates a kaleidoscopic world of over 320 origami shapes reflecting and refracting spectrums of light throughout a mirrored dome. But don’t go too far from the wharf though because you’ve got a boat to catch at 8pm.
8pm Vivid Sydney Harbour Tour, Wharf 4, Circular Quay
Grab yet another spectacular front-row view of the lights aboard one of the city’s iconic yellow and green ferries during a Vivid Sydney Harbour Tour. This festival first gives you an exclusive, beyond-breathtaking show of Vivid Sydney’s Harbour Lights precinct set to an original Vivid Music soundtrack with commentary providing the behind-the-scenes scoop on the mesmerizing light displays to be seen. Starting at the Opera House Sails designed this year by Universal Everything, and the Museum of Contemporary Art’s electric Merchandised Colour Assemblage projection, the ferry – only at half-capacity so everyone can experience the dramatic views – putt-putts along under the dazzling Harbour Bridge covered in 100,000 LEDs. Next you’re taken to Antarctica on an exploration of the Polar Lights as they bounce and reflect atop the Maritime Museum’s roof. Continuing on towards Pyrmont Bay Park, the night is set ablaze with an interactive digital fireworks display, just one part of this multisensory urban playground. Finally, as the ferry chugs its way back to Circular Quay, you’re taken past the Light Walk from The Rocks to the Walsh Bay Tree of Light for a finale bursting with even more colour and glimmering lights.
As a breakout favourite last year, this busy daytime stomping ground for Sydney’s corporates transforms into an luminous evening precinct, appealing to all five senses. With delicious smells wafting from some of the city’s tastiest food joints, interactive installations to see and hear, plus the chance to battle in out in a game of drones, the Vivid party here carries on until midnight.
9:45pm Transcendence, Martin Place
At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering if any food is involved during this night out, and of course! I was just making sure you worked up a good appetite before approaching the foodie wonderland of Transcendence. This architectural media sculpture by UK designer Joseph Crossley features mesmerizing scenes using new media art from projection mapping to a computer-coded light show. Every night will see a different team of hand-selected artists working alongside Crossley to create an ever-changing visual feast. So as the lights dazzle and dance above, your mouth will begin to water at the treats below. Delight in a selection of Sydney’s trendiest food and drink hawkers. Here’s just a preview of the nosh and tipples on offer:
- Porteño (Argentinian): Roast pork sandwiches & Spicy lamb sausages
- Thievery (Lebanese): Wagyu kebab & Lebanese fried chicken
- Tsuru (Asian Street Food): Hot & spicy BBQ pork belly buns
- Cow & The Moon (Award-Winning Gelato & Coffee): Affogato
- Rocks Brewing Company (Brewery): Local beers & Local spirits by Sydney’s Archie Rose distillery
‘til Midnight Martin Place
After indulging in the menu at Transendence, digest a bit and have a wander of the other light shows in Martin Place. Enter inside the 1920s celluloid filmmaking techniques and workings of a zoetrope at Phase Frames. Remember the importance of switching off your technology and tuning into the world around you with Robotantic’s interactive botanical garden of light and sound. Feel the beat Drum Circle by Australian duo Kate & Marty where the rhythm you drum out connects to the changing lights throughout the installation.
Now if you find yourself with more time on your hands to fulfill your Vivid needs, continue reading to discover my quinntessential hit list for the festival (barring the installations already mentioned above).
You can also check out my themed Vivid trails here.
The Quinntessential Vivid Sydney 2015 Guide
Barney & Bligh Reserves, The Rocks – 22 May to 08 July, 6pm ‘til midnight
Australian artist Amanda Parer, whose Intrude giant glowing rabbits invaded Sydney Harbour at last year’s Vivid, is back again, this year bringing to light the Rococo period and all its frivolity and opulence. Parer’s illuminated pig constructed using traditional Chinese lantern techniques and in the 18th–century art period’s whimsical style, questions the cost of overindulgence and plays on themes around greed, entitlement and excess.
Opera House Concert Hall Northern Foyer – 22 May to 31 May, 6pm ‘til late
Named after the memorable purple carpeting in the Opera House’s Northern Foyer, The Deep Purple Pool Hall has cleared out all stuffiness associated with private functions and decadent nights at the opera, and set up residence as a craft-focused bar. The duo behind the bars of Sydney’s The Cliff Dive and Tio’s bring a menu of winter warmer cocktails and Aussie beers, whites and reds to pair perfectly with a pre– or post-gig night of live DJs and free pool. Just follow the neon eight ball leading you to this pop-up bar with a view to boot.
Campbell’s Cove – 22 May to 08 July, 6pm ‘til midnight
Handcrafted entirely out of cotton rope and LED strip-lights, this giant Dolly sits three-meter high waiting for visitors to give her a hug and grab a selfie. The installation plays on childhood memories of dolls, nightlights and cuddly teddy bears, which the artist illuminates on the grand scale. As an architect and artist, Tina Fox is always on the look out for ways to incorporate craft into sculpture. I’m looking forward to admiring her craftsmanship, as I have recently taken to knitting, crochet and all that comes with a good crafternoon – more on that later.
6/8 Atherden St, The Rocks – 06 June, 10am ‘til 10:30pm
Speaking of crafternoons, Etsy is joining up with Vivid Sydney to present a daylong celebration of craft; complete with music and markets featuring locally made products and wares. This is Etsy’s fifth year of hosting craft parties around the world, and first time joining up with Vivid. And this year’s collaboration is very fitting as the global party’s theme is Kaleidoscope: Paper Taking Shape, perfectly paired with the many kaleidoscopic installations lighting up in the surrounding area. The event is free and goes for the entire day with night markets kicking off at 6:30pm. Find out more on the event and RSVP here.
Corner of George St & Alfred St, Circular Quay – 22 May to 08 July, 6pm ‘til midnight
This cylindrical morphing light installation takes shape, colour and pattern to real-time flight data from Sydney’s airspace. Each sequence of light and sound is augmented by the flights embarking, landing and passing overhead. Put on a headset to listen to the data-driven soundtrack in real-time, and watch as these never repeating, unique sequences appear and change to the music of travel.
East Circular Quay – 22 May to 08 June, 6pm ‘til midnight
Discover the pulse of the city as this heart-shaped installation keeps the Vivid vibes circulating, pumping out vital red lights to its own heartbeat. Take a seat and illuminate what’s in your heart-of-hearts as the pulse sensor emits your own thump-thump for all to see.
Campbell’s Cove – 22 May to 08 June, 6pm ‘til midnight
But first, let me take a selfie… Presenting a twist on your typical tourist map telling you ‘you are here’, grab the perfect selfie at this Light Art installation set against the ultimate Vivid backdrop of the glowing Opera House Sails. Don’t forget to # to share. #vividsydney #HowSelfiesWork
140 George St, The Rocks – 23 May to 08 June, 6 ‘til 9pm, Thursdays to Sundays
Drink up all of Vivid’s light and colour, literally, at the MCA. The café on top of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art has specially crafted two Vivid-inspired cocktails, The Sapphire and Ruby Red. Not only are they deliciously colourful, but rumour has it they also glow just like the lights surrounding you. You’ll also have one of the best vantage points of the festival on the rooftop terrace with views of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and all the bright lights of Circular Quay below.
47 George St, corner of George St and Playfair St – 22 May to 08 June, 6pm ‘til midnight
Australia’s national gemstone comes to light, sparkling across Sydney sandstone and showcasing the glints and flickers that live in opals. See the vibrant play of colour and light in the various opal patterns with curious names like Chinese Writing, Harlequin or Broad Flash. These incredible splashes and swirls of colour particularly pay tribute to the mysterious patterns found in the rare black opal of Lighting Ridge, NSW.
My Ethereal Vivid Trail
BONUS: Piano Stairs by Reuben Young, Andrew Handmer, Jessica Chalker, Annalie Killian & Tim Carr, Australia
AMP Building, Circular Quay – 22 May to 08 June, 6pm ‘til midnight