The ultimate Sydney Vivid Festival survival guide.

It’s been billed as the world’s largest “festival of light” but I won’t be going to Vivid this year. Instead I will be enjoying it from the confines of my bedroom, scrolling through other people’s social media feeds. “Why would you miss such an event?!” you say.

Let me break it down for those living outside of Sydney: the Vivid Festival is basically an annual chore that involves bundling your children out into the frigid weather at dusk, just at the point when they are tired, hungry, moody and on the edge… and unleashing them on the rest of Sydney.

This is what Vivid looked like in my dreams:

A photo posted by Vivid Sydney (@vividsydney) on Feb 22, 2016 at 6:18pm PST

This is what Vivid looks like IRL:


If you must insist on going this year, I’ve compiled a few pointers for you.

Families with young children

1. Toilet strategy – this seems like a strange tip but looking for bathrooms at Vivid will be your most time-consuming task. If you don’t plan this well you’ll spend most of the evening staring at someone’s backside rather than the lights. You need to map out exactly where you want to go. Where are the toilets? Mark them on the map. Don’t lose it. Memorize the map if you can. When junior suddenly decides he wants to go to the bathroom and the line at Maccas looks longer than the annual Aldi sale you’ll be thankful for the map.

Click through the gallery below for more pics of Vivid. Post continues after gallery. 

2. Avoid weekends – unless you enjoy people photobombing your family photo, having your foot run over constantly by passing prams, or tripping over small children (not yours).

What’s in the Vivid 2016 line-up you ask? Find out here. 


3. Pack snacks and drinks – I am not a snack-packer myself but I’ve seen it work. I’ve seen a packet of cheezels stop a full-blown tantrum. Food is expensive, restaurant and take away joints are packed to the gills and the lines are looooooooong. This is not the time to be instituting a healthy meal plan, it’s about survival.

 4. Keep it short – I know this is hard. You want to see the Cathedral of Lights at the Botanic Gardens AND the Art of Performance at Martin Place AND the Laser-Dragon Water-Theatre at Darling Harbour. Parenting is about sacrifice and you will have to lose one of those. Pick two highlights in close proximity and don’t improvise. And by improvise I mean dragging your children down the 2km nightmare that is currently George Street.

5. Take public transport – It’s hard to leave the comfortable interior of your car, I get it. But it’s either that or driving at a snail’s pace into the city where you end up paying $50 at a parking station then having to walk 1km to your destination anyway.


Couples and singles (basically anyone without children)

 1. Arrive after 9pm – the stroller crowd diminishes significantly after “bedtime”.

2. Wait for shit weather – anyone with children will drop out at this point and you will be wandering through the installations in a blissful, crowd-free zone.

3. Go on a boat – leave the plebs behind on the pavement and enjoy the spectacle by sea. There are numerous boat companies offering Vivid cruises.

A photo posted by Vivid Sydney (@vividsydney) on May 18, 2016 at 7:04pm PDT

(Feature image via Vivid Sydney, @vividsydney)

Any tips for visiting Vivid? Feel free to share below.

Vivid Sydney Festival runs from 27 May to 18 June 2016.

For more information, visit the Vivid Sydney website.

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