Light up the Night at Vivid Sydney 2018

Vivid Sydney celebrates 10 years of creativity with a huge program of light, music and ideas.

The much-loved Vivid Sydney festival turns 10 in 2018. Over the past decade it has grown to be the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. From 25 May to 16 June, Vivid Sydney will take over the city, spreading colour, light and joy. With new Vivid Light precincts, extraordinary superstars performing for Vivid Music and some of the world’s foremost creatives on stage for Vivid Ideas, this year’s program is truly out of this world.


The hallmark of Vivid Light each year is the Lighting of the Sails at the Sydney Opera House. This year Australian artist Jonathan Zawada has designed a spectacle called “Metamathemagical,” The artist has created various scenes that evolve and dissolve as objects are introduced, removed or undergo metamorphosis. Zawada says, “I really wanted to take a big picture view of both what Vivid is about, but more importantly, how I feel about Australia as this kind of elemental, timeless place that is also completely new and full of energy.”

"Aqueous"  by artist Jen Lewin (Courtesy Vivid Sydney)

The beautiful Royal Botanic Garden Sydney comes alive with light works inspired by nature. “Aqueous” by Jen Lewin is an interactive landscape of meandering pathways of light. Reflection and shifting colour and light react to audience participants as they run and walk along the pathway. “Parrot Party” by Zara Pasfield features a cheerful flock of brightly coloured birds perched on the staggered tiers of an open pavilion. They chatter, they tweet, chirp and sing, sending out a warm and inviting welcome.

This year, Customs House lights up in celebration of two Australian icons who turn 100 this year, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. These two characters are the creation of Australian author May Gibbs, and are part of many Australian childhoods. Gibbs is one of Australia’s best loved classic childrens’ book illustrators and authors. Her love of the Australian bush was portrayed in her work, and “The Gumnut Babies,” May’s classic book about Australian bush fairies, was first published in 1916 followed by her most famous creations, “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” in 1918.

“Virtual Vibration” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) is a highly collaborative work produced by the Spinifex Group in conjunction with Australian artist Jonny Niesche and composer Mark Pritchard. The shifting sensory experience is accompanied by a beautiful soundscape.

“BALLpit” at The Rocks transforms historic Cadmans Cottage into a virtual space where visitors swim, jump, push and dance through rooms filled with tens of thousands of virtual, responsive toy balls. Movements and interactions by visitors constantly change the performance of the balls—children will love this one!

Darling Harbour will be showered in light again with “Fantastic Oceans”. Created by Oracle Liquid, this art-meets-technology water fountain, light and laser experience celebrates an environment where bioluminescent creatures live deep beneath the ocean.

Luna Park is a Vivid Light precinct for the first time, with large-scale projections on the façade of Coney Island, while the iconic Ferris Wheel will be all lit up.

Neil Finn


This year’s Vivid Music line-up is all-encompassing, and pushes boundaries across every genre imaginable.

Vivid LIVE once again takes over the Sydney Opera House with exclusive Australian performances and Opera House debuts. The visionary Solange plays four nights in the Concert Hall (sold out), while hip hop godfather Ice Cube performs three nights (25–28 May). In an Australian exclusive Cat Power performs a 20th anniversary show for her breakthrough album, “Moon Pix.” She’ll showcase the album in full with her original collaborators, Jim White and Mick Turner in the Concert Hall (31 May).

Neil Finn performs his new album “Out of Silence” alongside a full band and orchestra (30-31 May) while Sydney’s own breakthrough band Middle Kids play the Joan Sutherland Theatre (27 May). The hazy pop of Mazzy Star will be on full display in its long-awaited Australian debut (11-13 June). The '90s icons will be performing with a full band and we will finally get to hear the dreamy vocals of Hope Sandoval and the echo-drenched reverb of guitarist David Roback.

Australia’s own Daniel Johns (Silverchair) and Luke Steele (The Sleepy Jackson) team up together as Dreams (29–30 May). This electro-pop collaboration between two of the country’s quirkiest musical minds should make for a very interesting show, to say the least.
St Vincent (©Nedda Afsari)

St Vincent performs a one-night only show at Carriageworks (17 June). The Grammy Award-winning rock goddess will be playing tracks from her latest record, the incredible “MASSEDUCTION.” Curve Ball returns to Carriageworks for a huge live music and art event (16 June). The event features Alison Wonderland, Vera Blue, Poloshirt, Crooked Colours, Haiku Hands and many more.

The City Recital Hall presents the Innovators in Jazz series showcasing some fine jazz talents from around the world. You may know her character Big Boo in “Orange is the New Black,” but actor Lea DeLaria is also an accomplished jazz musician. This one-night only live show combines stand-up comedy and sultry vocals (9 June). The Grammy Award-winning Kurt Elling is one of the foremost jazz singers alive today (8 June), while songstress Madeleine Peyroux is also performing (13 June).

The inaugural Heaps Gay Qween’s Ball comes to the Sydney Town Hall (9 June). There’s a fancy-dress competition and with music by Electric Fields Music, HANDSOME, imbi the girl, Lorna Clarkson, SEZZO SNOT, Cunningpants, Nick Spurway, YO! MAFIA and more. It is sure to be one hell of a party.

One of the standout soundtracks of modern times, Baz Luhrmann’s "Romeo + Juliet,” gets its own live show “Young Hearts Run Free” at the Enmore Theatre (7 June). The show will feature an all-star cast of musicians and artists, including Ella Hooper (Killing Heidi), Hayley Mary (Jezabels), Jake Stone (Bluejuice) and Jordan Raskopoulos, who will bring the iconic soundtrack music of Radiohead, Everclear, Garbage, The Cardigans, Butthole Surfers, Des’ree, Rozall and Kym Mazelle to life.

James Cameron


Vivid Ideas brings some of the world’s most creative minds to Sydney for a series of talks, workshops, conferences and panels. The Vivid Ideas 2018 program showcases those who are leading the way in technology, creativity and science.

The Game Changers series features the iconic legend that is filmmaker, marine explorer and conservationist James Cameron. He will be in conversation with Australia’s own Adam Spencer. Dive deep into the creative genius of James Cameron when he talks about bridging science and art, documenting marine life forms and all that a lifetime of exploration has revealed (27 May). He will also open the new “James Cameron – Challenging the Deep” exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Australian Game Changer Dare Jennings is a global success story. He is the founder of Mambo Clothing, Phantom Records and Deus ex Machina and will be in conversation with radio personality James Valentine to discuss creating cult brands that cut across age and lifestyles as well the joys of throwing out the rule book (27 May). Game Changer's Dan Goods is an artist, creative director and visual strategist who runs The Studio at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This inspiring creative is not to be missed (3 June).
Vivid Art After Hours will be held at the Art Gallery of NSW. During three successive Wednesday nights (30 May, 6 June, 14 June). Vivid Art After Hours is a mix of music, talks and experiences. Hear some interesting talks, grab a drink and, of course, wander around the impressive Archibald Prize exhibition. There will also be curated live music from Goldheist (30 May), Air Land Sea (6 June) and Haiku Hands (13 June).

The Vivid Ideas Exchange at the Museum of Contemporary Art returns, boasting a diverse line-up of talks presented by creative experts covering topics including the future of work, the ethics of humanising technology and how to become agents for change.

Special events include Semi Permanent 2018 at Carriageworks (24–26 May). This three-day design conference focuses on those moments of positive and negative friction that come before a breakthrough. Speakers include Scott Dadich and Patrick Godfrey, co-founders and co-CEOs Godfrey Dadich Partners; Tinker Hatfield, legendary Nike sneaker designer; Paula Scher, New York graphic designer and principal at Pentagram; Alex Schleifer, vice president of design at Airbnb; and Ajaz Ahmed, founder and CEO of innovation behemoth AKQA.