An A–Z of Vivid Sydney 2019

With so many sights, performances and events to get to this year, we put together a navigable list of things to do at the city’s most spectacular light festival.

Argyle Cut
Iconic walkway Argyle Cut gets the Pixar treatment with an exclusive work designed by Pixar Animation Studios in collaboration with Vivid Sydney. “Pixar: 30 Years of Art and Animation” takes audiences on a visual journey through three decades of beloved stories, from "Finding Nemo" to the upcoming “Toy Story 4”.

Played across 20 harbourside silhouettes, “Ballerina” by Italian artist Angelo Bonello features a mesmerising sequence of movements made up from dreamlike lightworks and a synchronised soundtrack. In this performance-slash-installation piece, the harbour becomes illuminated by reflected pirouettes and arabesques.

Celestial Pancake
“Celestial Pancake” is a suspended, fibre-optic light installation that mimics the night sky. The four-metre circular “ceiling”—which visitors can walk beneath—contains six hidden microphones that capture speech and transform it into spectacular waves of light that spiral into the work’s centre.

Dirty Three
For the first time ever, legendary Australian musical trio The Dirty Three will perform their acclaimed self-titled 1994 album in its entirety. The soaring melodies of band members Warren Ellis, Mick Turner and Jim White will find their perfect acoustic match in Sydney Opera House’s epic Concert Hall.

EORA: Broken Spear
The southern pylon of Sydney Harbour Bridge will be transformed with a projection design by artistic collective The Electric Canvas. “EORA: Broken Spear” is a moving homage to the First Nations people who lived and fished on Gadigal land before first contact. It is a reminder to reflect, to call Country, to read Country and to listen to Country.

Firefly Field
Glowing and darting throughout The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, “Firefly Field” lights up the night with a mesmerising installation of 500 flying light points that simulate the movement of fireflies.

Slime is getting a technological makeover. Everyone’s favourite toy from the 1970s and ‘80s will be oozing over the walls of Cadman’s Cottage in Circular Quay. Crafted software follows the real-time movement of participants and projects it across the walls in colourful blobs—a slime party without the mess. 

In Chatswood, “Cascading Harp”—a huge installation that calls to mind a colossal wind chime—invites visitors to weave in and out of its dangling ropes and create songs by running fingers along its jangling bells. In Circular Quay, “The Harp of the City” is a similarly large-scale and interactive installation; a 30-metre-long public instrument that produces sound and light in response to movement.

Not just a city-wide light show, Vivid is a festival that facilitates social and political engagement. This year, the Vivid Ideas program attracts some of the world’s leading thinkers, including “BlacKkKlansman” director Spike Lee and bestselling author Esther Perel.

Acclaimed artist and film director Arthur Jafa shares his seven-minute video work “Love is the message, the message is death”. The emotionally charged short film is a contemporary portrait of African-American identity, invoking everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Nina Simone to Beyoncé to Michael Jordan.

Kiddo Disco
Iconic Sydney club Home: The Venue becomes kid-friendly. Australia’s First Lady of House, DJ Kate Monroe, was at a loss for where to hear good music with her kids. “Kiddo Disco” was her solution: an energetic dance session with uplifting tunes for kids and adults alike.

Let It Snow
A collaboration between artists from China, Australia and the United States, “Let It Snow” is a super-scale immersive installation—made up of thousands of twinkling LED bulbs—that brings nothern snow to Sydney.

Marri Dyin
Marri Dyin, meaning “Great Woman” in the Eora language, is a beautiful female creature who will live in Sydney’s Barangaroo precinct during the festival. Each evening, Marri Dyin will transform the landscape into peaceful bushland, then raging bushfire, then torrential storm, representing the connection between First Nations women and the land.

Night-time Wandering
Explore the Art Gallery of New South Wales well after closing time. Over three consecutive Wednesday nights, the gallery will be used as an after-hours platform for free music, talks and art experiences.

Prominent Australian media personality Van Badham will be running an intensive workshop of how to write commentary and op-ed.

The Audiocraft Podcast Festival celebrates this influential yet underrated form with a series of masterclasses, workshops and talks.

Qween’s Ball
The insanely successful Qween’s Ball returns to Vivid this year, filling Sydney Town Hall with queer glamour for one night of sensory, glittery bliss.

Robot SPACELand
Sent to sow the seeds of a brighter tomorrow, Ecobot—a 16-metre-tall mechatronic unit who finds its home in  Cockle Bay—is an installation sent to repurpose industrial junk into an alternative landscape of organic beauty.

Hands down one of the most breathtaking spectacles on show this year, the behemoth light installation “City Sparkle” will turn the entire city skyline into a dazzling, kaleidoscopic halo.

Taronga Zoo
For a different view of the city, catch a ferry across to Taronga Zoo. The journey begins at the entrance, which is brought to life with a projection of moving animals, and continues throughout the zoo, which has been filled with awe-inspiring multimedia sculptures.

How we work is fast changing. While some are optimistic about artificial intelligence facilitating positive changes such as shorter work weeks, others are worried about rising unemployment. Luckily, Vivid Sydney has roped in a panel of experts to dive into the future of work: from workplace wellness, to new communications interfaces, to revolutionising the commute.

For the fourth year, Vogue Australia is hosting the Vogue Codes Summit. In this savvy event, entrepreneurs, creatives and tech representatives unpack the fast-changing technology industry.

Watch Your Chips!
A fascinating if not vaguely stressful installation, “Watch Your Chips!” by father-and-son artist duo Simon and Anton Grimes features a suspended installation of LED birds whose behaviour mimics that of seagulls at a beach. At rest, the wings of these birds beat softly above you—but if you touch the chips, a flocking algorithm compels them to speed up and fight for the prize.

A number of leading Sydney venues have jumped on the Vivid bandwagon to deliver a special series of music events as part of the X|Celebrate program. Favourite local haunts such as Surry Hills’ The Dolphin Hotel, Newtown’s The Vanguard, Chippendale’s The Lansdowne and Marrickville’s Camelot Lounge will host music-focused parties throughout the duration of the festival where you can dance the night away.

Yorta Yorta Briggs
Rapper and producer Yorta Yorta Briggs is throwing a house party alongside members of his Indigenous collective. The Bad Apples House Party will be a night of unbridled hip hop attitude within the unlikely (but spectacular) venue, Sydney Opera House’s Joan Sutherland Theatre.

The “twenty-finger orchestra”, ZOFO—comprised of solo pianists Eva-Maria Zimmerman and Keisuke Nakagoshi—presents an unforgettable multimedia concert experience: a dynamic, four-handed piano performance set against an ever-changing backdrop of contemporary paintings that have been especially chosen for the performance by composers around the world.

From May 24. Various locations around Sydney. Full program at