Vivid is back, baby. Sydney’s Festival of Lights, Music and Ideas has just dropped its full 2022 schedule and, boy, does it live up to it, even after years of anticipation.
After a two-year hiatus, Vivid Sydney is set to land in the port city from Friday May 27 to Saturday June 18. Catching up with lost time and reviving the city, Vivid’s program has a ton of festival firsts on display, such as the continuous long walk of light, free tunes in Central Station, pop-up concerts in the gardens, intimate supper clubs and even a lively Dîner. And that’s on top of its usual light projections, concerts, outdoor raves, reflective panels and late-night parties. So buckle up in Sydney, we’re off on a wild ride.
Here are the main highlights of Vivid Sydney’s 2022 programme.
Vivid Sydney hits a lot of high notes, but the dazzling light projections are what sees people – tourists and Sydneysiders alike – flocking to the foreshore. This year, no less than 11 Sydney CBD sites light up with a kaleidoscopic display of lasers, art projections and lights.
Specifically, Vivid Sydney will launch with First Light: a welcome to the land and a celebration of First Nations peoples, culture and country. It takes place at 5.40pm on Vivid’s opening night on May 27 at Campbells Cove, and will feature screenings of Gadigal’s Tales on a Sydney Harbor Bridge pylon.
In other good news, the famous Light Walk has been extended and will now stretch 8 km from the Sydney Opera House to Central Station. The promenade features the works of 114 light artists and 62 collaborators, including street installations, large-scale immersive experiences and 200 LED sculptural birds as part of the Future natives installation.
One of Vivid’s biggest draw cards is the Opera House screenings, so you better bet this year’s light works will live up to the hype. Lighting the sails will be Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground, 2021 by artists Martu de Pilbara and Sydney-based creative technology company Curiious. The epic digital artwork will light up the sails with vibrant landscapes, energy and stories of the Martu people. Not only will the work light up the sky, but it will also be accompanied by First Nations electronic duo Electric Fields and Martu Artists. On the forecourt and monumental steps, you will be dazzled by Sydney-based artist Lauren Brincat. Tutti Presto fff– a half-hour live sculptural work involving sound, performance and choreography in a reimagining of Australia’s iconic landmark.
More lights in the big city include Mandylights Our connected city, which will illuminate the Harbor Bridge and Opera House as well as 200 floodlights across skyscrapers, the harbor and the Cahill Expressway; Australian artist Helen Eager’s impressive eight-minute moving projection New York Sunday on the MCA, soundtrack by Paul Mac; an immersive illuminated tunnel at Tumbalong Park called Smudges; Australia’s largest liquid and light show at Darling Harbour; and a 100m floating lightweight boardwalk at Walsh Bay as part of Ephemeral oceanicwhich features 150 gigantic bubble-shaped spheres.
Now on to the concerts, many of which take place at the Sydney Opera House. First, the House is bringing its concerts and parties back to the North Promenade, so you can dance under the stars while overlooking the harbor and the spectacular Vivid Lights. Particular highlights include Australian great Paul Kelly performing a one-off series with Thelma Plum; Hermitude ignites the boardwalk with their high-octane tunes; the always fun Club Kooky with LGBTQIA+ anthems; and local music collective Astral People hosting a 10+1 birthday party with a lineup of local artists including Hiatus Kaiyote, Briggs, Mildlife, BARKAA, Munasib and Youngn Lipz, alongside British jazz-funk drummer Yussef Dayes and British rapper Jay1.
Inside the sails of the Opera, you can watch a world premiere by German producer Nils Frahm as well as the highly anticipated show by Sampa The Great A future afro, which finally hits Sydney after Vivid Sydney was canceled last year. Other highlights include hip-hop powerhouse Tkay Maidza with Maina Doe; a jazzy improvisational performance by Tangents and GODTET; a feisty set from all-female indie band The Buoys; Miiesha, Anangu/Torres Strait Islander woman and ARIA Award-winning artist; Korean-Australian hip-hop outfit 1300; and wistful Ghanaian-American artist Moses Sumney who brings his wistful tunes home for one night only.
One of our biggest picks, however, is In The Mood – A love letter to Wong Kar-Wai and Hong Kong by Rainbow Chan, Eugene Choi and Marcus Whale, which is an ode to the film by the Cantonese director love mood and features ’60s-style costumes, sax-soaked versions of the film’s soundtrack, and elements of the award-winning film refracted on stage.
Want to cut out shapes on the dance floor after a few years on the couch? Then you’ll want to check out the Opera’s studio party series, featuring DJs such as Catalan electro producer John Talabot, Adi Toohey, Touch Sensitive, Ayebatonye, Simon Caldwell, Wax’o Paradiso, and many others.
Pre-sale tickets for Sydney Opera House x Vivid LIVE open at 12pm AEDT on Thursday 17 March – register here. Otherwise, general public tickets will go on sale at 9:00 a.m. AEDT on Monday, March 21. So browse the concerts here and get ready to buy tickets when they go on sale.
Outside of the Opera, Vivid LIVE’s schedule includes a series of pop-up concerts in Tumbalong Park; a series of supper clubs that will transform Mary’s Underground into an intimate cabaret; DJs spin nightly on a pop-up dance floor at Ultimo; and free concerts in Central Station’s Grand Concourse.
Rounding out the epic cultural festival, Vivid Sydney’s Ideas segment features a series of thought-provoking talks, artist talks and in-depth discussions. Vivid also introduced a new program into the mix, taking over the MCA, Powerhouse Museum, Maritime Museum and Australian Museum. Dubbed Vivid Ideas Up Late, the free program combines lectures, art and performance and will cover everything from drag and ballroom culture to fashion, food, movies and more. Discover more information here.
Vivid Ideas events of interest to us include this conversation with Troye Sivan and Patrick Abboud about beauty, artistry and fluidity; award-winning American screenwriter and director Aaron Sorkin discussing politics and drama with Australian journalist icon Leigh Sales; a two-night festival of ideas at the MCA; and the inaugural Vivid Sydney dinner at the ivy Ballroom, which will incorporate all the elements of Vivid with a multi-sensory feast that combines light, music, ideas and creative cuisine through celebrity chefs Dan Hong and Mike Eggert. Oh, and the epic stream also comes with paired wines.
It’s a lot, we know. Sit down, grab it all, and check the Vivid website for the full schedule, as well as the Sydney Opera House website for its epic lineup and to buy tickets once they go on sale.
Sydney, we’re back.
Vivid Sydney is taking over 11 Sydney locations from May 27 to June 18. For more information and the full program visit the Vivid Sydney website. For Sydney Opera House x Vivid LIVE, pre-sale tickets open at 12pm AEDT on Thursday March 17 – register here. General public tickets go on sale at 9:00 a.m. AEDT on Monday, March 21.
Image credit: Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Prudence Upton, Destination NSW