So you want to come to Vivid? Awesome! As the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas, good times are almost guaranteed. The other thing we can predict with near certainty is you won’t be the only one traipsing around the city enjoying the sights. Vivid attracted 2.3 million visitors last year, up more than 600,000 from 2015: suffice to say, it’s pretty popular. To help you navigate your way through your like-minded light enthusiasts we’ve compiled our top 10 tips on how to beat the crowds and have yourself the best Vivid ever.
1. Avoid weekends
We know, we know – Fridays and Saturdays seem like the most enticing nights to get out and enjoy the city at its sparkly best but if you’re someone who enjoys personal space, we strongly recommend heading out on a Monday or Tuesday instead.
2. Take public transport
An Uber might seem like a nice idea on a chilly night but after averaging a speed of one kilometre per hour through the CBD you – and your wallet – might be singing a different tune. So take the train and enjoy stress-free, traffic-free travel for the average price of $3.50 a pop.
3. Rug up
Sydney can be cold at this time of year and unless you somehow manage to plant yourself flat against the brightly lit Opera House sails, those millions of lights won’t be providing any heat.
4. Embrace watercraft
Catching the ferry over from Manly is the ideal way to arrive at Vivid. Not only do you get front row seats and picture-perfect angles to the biggest installations, you’re also guaranteed a certain amount of personal space thanks to legal passenger limits. The rules of buoyancy have never been more wonderful.
5. Set out later
The crowds tend to die down a little after 9pm when all the families head home for bedtime and the post-work crowd is done for the day, giving you around two hours of prime viewing opportunity.
6. Make friends with rain
Unlike our Melburnian friends, we Sydneysiders are a fickle bunch when it comes to the weather. If there are a few spots of rain or an icy wind, chances are we’re changing our plans and staying indoors, opening up a spot for you – with your thick jacket, crafty raincoat and sunny disposition – to enjoy the festivities hassle-free.
7. Venture beyond Circular Quay
Sure, the Opera House is the centrepiece of the festival but there are many other impressive zones sprinkled throughout the city. The Botanical Gardens acted as a fairy-like wonderland last year, Martin Place always offers some sort of sculptural genius and Darling Harbour boasts its own brand of on-the-water lightshow magic.
8. Secure a table
Because the Opera House and Circular Quay are photo-worthy year-round, there are a plethora of bars and restaurants designed to give their patrons uninterrupted views of the area. Book a table anywhere in the Overseas Passenger Terminal, on the rooftop at the MCA or get to the Opera Bar early to enjoy the show with a drink in hand.
9. Look for vantage points
The most obvious of these is of course the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You can take the train to Milson’s Point and make the easy stroll across it or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, book yourself in for a Vivid Bridge Climb, complete with flashing festive vest and open air dance floor where all your disco dreams can come together at once.
10. Remember the festival runs for 23 nights
This means you have 23 chances to enjoy what’s on offer and don’t need to do a one-night cram. In fact, sometimes the best way to see Vivid is to let it act as a spectacular backdrop to everyday Sydney activities, emerging from a delicious dinner or underground bar to discover yourself in a sea of lights. How wonderful.