Vivid Sydney: Eat, Stay, Play
Vivid Sydney starts on 25 May and runs until 16 June. With activity in almost every city precinct, visitors will be treated to visual displays from the Harbour foreshore to Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo and beyond! There are incredible light installations throughout the streets and some of the world’s best live music, performance art and workshops at venues around the city.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian says, “Each Vivid Sydney Program continues to outshine the last,” and promises that this year’s festival “will be no different with special designs to celebrate a decade of what has turned into Australia’s most visited major event.”
Kicking off its 10th year this May, Vivid Sydney can be overwhelming to a newbie. At Travelzoo, we have a few insider tips on how best to enjoy yourself. And we’ve collated a list of the best hotels, local tips, last minute ideas and things to do in Sydney during the festival.
Know where to eat Luckily for visitors to Sydney, world-class restaurants, bars and cafes abound! Some of our top foodie areas are close to the CBD. Whether you want a luxury dining experience, a quick bite or one of Australia’s famous smashed avocado brekkies, the options are endless. For a luxury dining experience in the city, we suggest indulging at the Four Season's Mode Kitchen and Bar with a 2 -course Vivid dinner or trying the New York Fusion style dining at Surry Hill's Eastside Kitchen. If you're after something a little different, we can recommend the South Indian Tapas feast at Dhakshin (a little out of the mainstream activity) and loved the unique twist on traditional Indian dishes, the London trained chef brings to the menu. Just a few of our go-to foodie suburbs are Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Surry Hills and Newtown.
With Sydney's benign weather we suggest you maximise outdoor activity. A picnic in the Botanic gardens or fish and chips under the Harbour Bridge make for an inexpensive dining option. And, outside dining allows the kids an opportunity to run around while the grown-ups take in the mesmerising light spectacular.
Be In the thick of it Sydney’s sprawling geography can make booking a hotel a totally overwhelming experience if you’re new to it. There's nothing worse than realising your accommodation is booked miles from anywhere - add exhausted kids to the mix and you’ll be heading home before you’ve checked in.
As Sydneysiders, we suggest booking accommodation in the heart of Vivid and surrounding suburbs. Try searching the Sydney CBD, Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Potts Point or even Surry Hills for hotels where the activity is on your doorstep. We found the Ibis Darling Harbour one of the most convenient and best hotels deals for Vivid. The Ibis Sydney Airport is perfect if you need accommodation close to the airport.
It may be harder to organise time off during the week, but you won’t regret it. From better restaurant deals and midweek happy hours to cheaper hotel rates and less of a crowd, booking a midweek trip will be better on the pocket and a far more relaxing experience for the whole family.
Find a good vantage point Every evening at 6pm, Vivid Sydney turns the Harbour into a massive light installation, with both the Harbour Bridge and the famous sails of the Opera House transformed into a colourful, moving light display that will impress kids of all ages.
Some of the best vantage points for the evening light show include The Rocks, Circular Quay, Milsons Park in Kirribilli and Dawes Point just under the Harbour Bridge. Or, view the lights harbour-side with a Vivid cruise from either Circular Quay or Darling Harbour.
If you’re looking for somewhere easily accessible, Circular Quay is a central location with great views of the light show. A range of other nightly installations, performances and dining options dotted the whole way along the waterfront. We love Sir Stamford's High Tea at Circular Quay for a leisurely afternoon treat. For a full list of easily accessible installations, activities and performances take a look at Vivid Sydney's website here.
Vivid Sydney can be "light" on the pocket
It’s no secret that Sydney is an expensive city at times - and one of the best things about Vivid Sydney is that it’s free, allowing you to enjoy spending your hard-earned holiday dollars on fun things like fancy dinners, cocktails and unforgettable experiences.
For other great free (or cheap) things to enjoy in the city why not…
Catch a ferry
A ferry ride not only provides a little escape from the hustle of Sydney, but time it right and you’ll be heading back to your hotel as the lights of Vivid Sydney illuminate the Harbour and cityscape. The kids will love being out on the water and as far as day trips go, it won’t break the bank.
Enjoy a coastal walk
While it may be a bit cold to take a dip, you can still enjoy Sydney's famous beaches on one of the city's many great coastal walks. Bondi to Coogee and the Manly to Spit Bridge walk are easily accessible options that combine scenic views of the Pacific Ocean with Australia’s beautiful national parks.