The Ultimate Guide To The Controlled Mayhem That Is Vivid 2018


Welcome to your guide to Vivid 2018, where we’ve compiled a list of hot spots to help ease the difficult task of navigating your way around this hectic cultural phenomenon. Forewarning: prepare to lose wallets, phones, dignity and yourselves in a sea of lights, music and mad vibes.

Spanning over the course of three weeks (25 May – 16 Jun), Vivid takes over Sydney in a spectacle like no other, with last year’s festival racking up 2.3 million people in attendance. To put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of the entire population of Botswana (and then some) chilling out in Sydney. Holy hell.

With so much going on for 23 nights, it’s easy enough to become overwhelmed by choice, cry for a bit, hold your dog and then decide to shut the curtains and wait for the shenanigans to blow over. While this is indeed an option, you’d be doing yourselves a serious disservice by opting out completely, so we’ve rounded up some primo things to see and do to ensure you experience this unparalleled event IRL.

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We’ve scoped out some neat bars that have a perfect view of the light shows (or happen to be a light show themselves), so you can indulge in a drop while taking in the insane view.

The Bombay Sapphire X MCA Pop-Up Bar
Museum of Contemporary Art, The Rocks, 26, 30 May, 2, 8, 9, 13, 15, 16 Jun.

Bombay Sapphire and MCA have partnered up to bring you an interactive pop-up bar. Wait, whaaaat?

While being served Premium London Dry Gin in a variety of different ways – Lemon Myrtle and Thyme, Karkalla Sprig and Orange Segment or Finger Lime and Sage to name a few – you can dive head-first into the three-story art installations. One of the cocktails also happens to be served in an LED glass as a little head nod to the festival. Just dandy.

To cap it all off, there’s a ripper rooftop bar where you can take your drop of gin and marinate in the glorious views.

Side note: MCA will be transformed by a large-scale projection installation, Virtual Vibration, developed specifically by MCA Collection artist Jonny Niesche in conjunction with the Spinifex Group and composer Mark Pritchard. The work explores the art of Jonny Niesche, whose enchanting compositions offer shifting, sensory experiences produced by subtle acts of reflection, transparency and movement.

The Theatre Bar At The End Of The Wharf
Dawes Point

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Oddly specific name aside, The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf isn’t exclusively for theatre buffs. Hell, you don’t even have to like theatre to get the most out of this insane building.

Direct your gaze towards the view out the windows and you’ll come across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You genuinely can’t miss it, it takes up the entire backdrop – perfect for a front-row position to lights.

The Glenmore Hotel
The Rocks

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While not directly on the water, The Glenmore Hotel is spread over three stories with a rooftop ideal for peeping the light show. Mingle with the best of ’em while you all try your best to make sophisticated commentary on Vivid’s cultural impact while guzzling down one too many cocktails.

Bombay Sapphire


There’s an insane amount of talent flocking to Vivid this year and naturally you should see them all, however if that’s physically impossible (which, given timing and location, it actually is), we’ve rounded up some must-sees.

The Lair @ Metro Theatre, 9 Jun

Off the back of their latest single, Labrador, punk five-piece Waax are hellbent on infiltrating the earphones of every alternative music fan Australia-wide.

The Brisbane rockers have been copping some serious airplay on triple j for a while now, so best get on the Waax train now so you can be as hip as the rest of us. If you do happen to be late to the uptake, a couple of tunes to listen to are Same Same and Holy Sick.

St. Vincent
Carriageworks, 17 Jun

Photo cred: Nedda Afsari

Raking in literal millions of views on YouTube (per song), American export St. Vincent is a certified rockstar. I mean, she has the Grammy to prove it. The singer-songwriter has been making waves since 2007 after the release of her debut album, Marry Me.

While tickets are a *tad* exxy, it’ll be well worth forking out for as she’s consistently set the bar higher and higher. Grab a pint, grab your m8s and set yourselves in for a night filled with banger after banger.

Ice Cube
Sydney Opera House, 25-28 May

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Ice Cube and the Sydney Opera House are teaming up for the duet you never knew you needed. The NCIS veteran will undoubtedly be schooling everyone on numerous socio-political topics over the course of four days, so put down your cameras and pick up a pen.

The rapper is all but guaranteed to perform the ol’ classics like It Was a Good Day and No Vaseline, but for legal and security reasons let’s just say it’s merely a possibility at this point. The last thing we need is 500,000 angry Ice Cube fans protesting in the streets with pitchforks and torches because he failed to carry out a promise we made on his behalf.

The Main Attraction(s)

We’re all well aware of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Museum of Contemporary Art transforming into large-scale projections in celebration of light and design, so it’s about time that a few of the lesser-known installations copped some love. These installations run throughout the entire festival.

I Have Feelings Too
Chatswood, 17:30 – 22:30

Sydney University will be transforming public benches throughout the city into (semi) living beings with actual emotions. Sit down on one of the benches and be prepared for it to unload its deepest, darkest fears on you.

Who would have ever thought you’d relate so much to an inanimate object? The future is now.

Nice To Meet You
Circular Quay, 17:30 – 22:30

Shidi Luo, Tong Jia and Renjie Teoh have collaborated to bring you this interactive, LED ‘telephone booths’. Hop on into one of the booths, start ranting into the cup attached to the wall, and your rants will transform into a dazzling light signal in the centre of the installation.

The installation’s made sure it’s accessible for kids, adults and the disabled. Groovy.

The Rocks, 18:00 – 23:00

Inspired by the prehistoric Deinonychus, the Illuminosaurus isn’t as deadly as its extinct counterpart but it is far prettier.

Adrienn Lord‘s awe-inspiring statue is sure to get a strong reaction from the littl’uns. If you’re that type of parent who likes pulling a fast one over your kids, tell them that it can come to life and eat them if they start to misbehave. I’m all for that ‘threaten your kids with fake death threats’ type of parenting.

Thought Provokers

Vivid is the gift that keeps on giving. Aside from the captivating lights and the decent tunes, workshops and shows are being held across Sydney for all of the thinkers out there, with Vivid ideas.

The Vivid World Of Virtual Reality
University of Sydney Campus, 25 May, 7 Jun

This workshop’s designed to get you up to date with everything Virtual Reality. If you’re a VR noob like the majority of us (it scares me half to death just quietly), you may want to get your asses down to the University of Sydney campus pronto.

According to people in the know, VR will soon be commonplace in businesses across the globe, so it’d be wise to keep up before you get left behind.

Keeping It Real In An Age Of Curated Perfection
Museum of Contemporary Art, 6 Jun

We’ve officially entered the age of the ‘influencer’, a world where people construct the perfect life for themselves under the guise of filters, angles and good lighting.

This workshop is designed to get people questioning our current obsession with perfection. Get your questions ready, pals.

Algae Is The New Black
Museum of Contemporary Art, 9 Jun

Have you ever had a keen interest in algae? No? Well, you will once you find out that it provides 50% of the world’s oxygen. Algae is the unsung heroe of nature, often getting lumped in and ridiculed for being pretty foul, tbf.

Learn everything there is to know about the substance that’s essentially keeping us alive straight from the mouths of profesh scientists.

If you’re keen to check out what else Vivid has to offer, head over to their website here.