Sydney – VIVID

Paris may very well be called the city of lights and that is all fine and good but move over Paris – there is a worthy contender for your title. Year on year the VIVID festival is bigger, better and adding new attractions, subtracting some others. My kids love it. If you are from out of town and been looking at an excuse to visit Sydney, this would be the excuse I would use.

It can be really crowded and as such careful planning is required. The organisers are well aware of the congestion and the bottlenecks of people. Each year they have been trialing new ways to spread people out and ensure maximum enjoyment for all. They are getting there.

2013 VIVID

we caught the ferry in, walked around Circular Quay and then caught the ferry home.

2014 VIVID

We stayed in a hotel in Darling Harbour and thought we could  view the lights and laser display from there. We had a 8 month old and a pram so we were trying to avoid the crowds. We actually parked at Kirribilli and caught the train in on the last night and went to see ‘the real lights’ upon request of my son. We got off at Wynyard and having seen Martin Place we walked to Circular Quay before getting back on the train and heading back to the car.

2015 VIVID

I caught the ferry in on a Tuesday night with the children and met my husband at Circular Quay. We walked from the Quay around under the bridge and through the Rocks. Back to Circular Quay and home.

2016 VIVID adds new locations

VIVID arrived at the Zoo. VIVID at the zoo is so less hectic with kids. The Royal Botanic Gardens have also been added to the locations. I split the locations and did one and then the other at a later date.

My then 8 year old had very defined ideas of what is ‘seeing VIVID’ and I think the buildings surrounding the quay are a must with the Martin place buildings being requested. We feed the children before dark and with jackets and scarfs on. (although being Sydney last year I carried all the jackets as it was so warm)

2017 VIVID

My husband was away and I just couldn’t cope alone with two kids, one quiet small. I had already trapsed around the zoo during rugby training one evening and it was greatly reputitious from the previous year. So, we made a last minute booking at The Inter-Continental Hotel and having walked from Martin Place down to Circular Quay we went back to the room and watched the boats and lights from the room. This is the way to do but a tad indulgent I must say.

2018 VIVID

Having battled through the crowds coming home from work I made the call not to bring the kids into the city. We went to the zoo and enjoyed the animals. I must say I was disspointed. The animals remain the same they were year on year previously. They have fixed the path and made it one way all the way round. They also have staggered gate times to help with the bottlenecks and crowds. If you want the kids to see Vivid, the zoo or a harbvour cruis is the best way.


Vivid now attracts 2 million people and it is hectic. Prams and smaller kids are to be honest scarey. There are so many people pushing and shoving. The showcase is and always will be the Opera House and Customs House. It is not a City of Sydney event so I can’t understand why they don’t shift the focus from here to Manly or Bondi where crowds are able to visit and there are heaps of spaces to walk around. Perhaps some other satelitte installations could help disperse the crowds.

Try to avoid the weekends if you have small kids and the suits (office workers) tend to go for a beverage after work and then stroll around. They expect 100,000 on a busy night. If you want to discover the best things each year, I recommend following the Facebook page as they tend to pick out the crowd favourites and post photos.

Frequently asked questions is worthy of a read if you haven’t previously been. You’ll love it but plan it carefully to avoid the worst of the crowds. Honestly, it’s a festival you will enjoy. If your planning to visit over a weekend, I recommend Sydney Harbour YHA -you can come and go as you please from here. If you prefer something a little more upmarket, I would pick the Mantra on Kent. An apartment is so much easier in my mind for families.


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