VIVID Sydney 2017: Bigger, Bolder and Brighter

Kate Young
19th Mar 2017

Get ready Sydney because it’s almost that time of year again when Sydney’s foreshore becomes one giant illuminated canvas. Over 23 nights from Friday the 26th of May until Saturday 17th of June, VIVID will transform the city into a thriving hub of light, music and ideas. VIVID returns bigger, bolder and brighter in 2017, with a new precinct at Barangaroo, an expanded light walk through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and program that is set to electrify the city. Focusing on three main elements Light, Music and Ideas. Vivid is on a mission, to bring art and technology together and change the way we see and experience the world.

VIVID Lights

For the first time in VIVID Sydney’s history, the vibrant kaleidoscope will stream into a new precinct at Barangaroo, with a trail of installations winding through intimate laneways, past waterfront vistas and into a foodie paradise. Here, visitors will be immersed in A Day in the Light, an outdoor theatre of light and sound that lets them become part of the artwork, and treated to optical illusions like Trapdoor, where participants will have to hold on for dear life as the ground opens up to reveal a mysterious subterranean world, with floor murals of light bringing spectacular changing scenes to life.

The festival’s bright lights shall return again this year to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney with an expanded trail that will take visitors through the heart of the beautiful harbour-side oasis. Here, Birds of Lumos, inspired by the rare Rowi species of the New Zealand kiwi, will come to life. Set to make a few walkers uncomfortable is the quirky installation You Lookin' at Me? Watch heads turn as big glaring eyes follow those that pass by.

The heart of VIVID Sydney light walk, hands down, has to be the sails of the Sydney Opera house. This year the honour has been placed in creative hands of acclaimed cinematographer, editor, and graphic designer Ash Bolland. In Audio Creatures, Bolland’s aim is to have the viewer questioning and looking at nature in a different way, the sails will be brought to life by a series of imaginary creatures interacting with the environment, morphing and moving between each other.

Popular precincts Chatswood, Taronga Zoo, Martin Place and Darling Harbour will return in 2017.

Chatswood CBD will be reinvented as a retro- futuristic smart city called Future City, where the whimsical world of manga goes head to head with 19th centry steampunk machinery. Lights for the Wild at Taronga Zoo, will return after such a successful run last year and will feature favorites and a few new friends including a swarm of buzzing bees, and a giant interactive Port Jackson shark.

Martin Place will become a food hub with Deep Forest, an urban jungle for feasting. Featuring an open flame fire-pit, the boys from Porteño will be firing up some tasty BBQ treats.

Darling Harbour will be turned into a spectacular water theatre as twenty-eight tonnes of water is thrown into the air , whilst lasers, flame jets, music and fireworks combine in a celebration of power of creativity. Magicians of the Mist, is set to define the digital era.


The beat of the Vivid Music program is stronger than ever with over 250 events in this year’s line-up. International highlights include UK electronic pop duo Goldfrapp, American folk-rock band Fleet Foxes, French electronic superheroes AIR, British sirens of singer and Beth Orton and Laura Marling.

Aussie offerings this year will see Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker) in his first headline concert since dropping his former alas and entering an exciting new chapter of music, mixing past and present influences of heavy beats and soulful jams.  The Avalanches will bring their hybrid of colourful electronic and revolutionary energy to the forecourt the Opera House. Playing their classic Since I Left You in its entirety and pulling in a few friends along the way - such as fellow sample maniac DJ Shadow! This will be the block party of the century.

If dance is your thing be sure not to miss events being run by Heaps Gay, Soul of Sydney, Purple Sneakers and The Argyle’s Tokyo Disco, these events are set to sell out so get in early. Woman in Electronic Music at Oxford Art Factory, will showcase those pioneering producers, beat-makers and DJs from Sydney and beyond. Plan for a late one cause these ladies plan to party until the wee hours of the morning.

Last but not least, for one night only, Paul Mac is set to transform the City Recital Hall into a unique sound and light, club experience. At the hub is Sound Bubble, a mad-professor style art installation and performance platform in the form of a three metre square, clear inflatable cube. Inside, the line-up features brand new experimental multimedia performances by electronic music guru Paul Mac with artist Damian Barbeler, and DJ sets from Sydney club scene legends Ben Drayton (Bad Dog) and Club Kooky. Staged over three levels, each with its own vibe, beat and theme, come and listen, immerse or dance at Sydney’s first ever Sound Bubble Sound Party.


The VIVID Ideas program will continue to challenge and inspire with more than 200 events exploring the changing face of the creative industries. Iconic American artist Shepard Fairey, who blurs the boundaries of art and design, headlines the VIVID Ideas line-up. His body of work includes his Barack Obama HOPE campaign, the OBEY GIANT art project, and this year’s ubiquitous ‘We The People’ initiative.

In a VIVID Sydney exclusive, Fairey will share his do-it-yourself approach, career highlights and how he managed to turn his creativity into an authentic voice about street culture. He will also create a large scale public mural live on a wall in Sydney’s CBD, and some of his most famous works to date will be part of a pop-up exhibition at the Darling Quarter.

Throughout the city, a series of conferences will connect start-ups, emerging talent, practitioners and entrepreneurs with world-class creators and thought-leaders. Highlights include The Sunrise, which connects start-ups with successful founders; Semi Permanent, returning with a series of interactive, immersive experiences featuring leaders from Getty Images, NIKE, Google and more, Clipped music video festival will include an exciting interactive music video exhibition, screenings, premieres, food, drinks, workshops and industry discussion panels featuring international guest speakers. High caliber work by Australian and New Zealand filmmakers will be showcased in our prestigious music video competition, with prizes and awards up for grabs: and family-favourite, Robowars, where some of the country’s best engineers and robotic experts put their self-built robots to battle.

The VIVID Ideas Exchange at the Museum of Contemporary Art also boasts a diverse line-up of talks presented by Creative Practitioners covering topics from fashion to placemaking, storytelling, ageism, marketing pitching, health, innovation, big data and mixed reality.

I hope you're ready Sydney, because the entire program looks insane and the hardest job now is going to be trying to pack in us much as you can. So start planning!

You can now find all program and ticketing information online at the VIVID Sydney website