3 Jun 2024 By AK

The Must-See Gems of Vivid Sydney 2024

As the Asia-Pacific’s leading multi-artform festival casts its glow across Sydney for 23 nights, the curators behind the spectacle share their not-to-be-missed highlights. With a diverse and packed program of installations, experiences and performances to choose from, these are the must-see moments to add to your calendar.

Gill Minervini, Vivid Sydney Festival Director and Light and Food Curator Gill’s top Vivid Light and Vivid Food picks:

First Light, curated by Vivid Sydney’s First Nations Advisor Rhoda Roberts AO, next to Campbells Cove, Circular Quay

“Our opening ritual celebrating our First Nations culture and welcoming us to Country, First Light, is back for the third year and is again curated by Rhoda Roberts. This year, the Gadigal clan are inviting neighbouring nations to pay homage to the often-overlooked voices of the ancestral women of the Sydney Basin with song, dance and performance.”

Global Rainbow by Yvette Mattern, Sydney Tower

“Global Rainbow’s beams of rainbow lasers will fan out across the city from Sydney Tower for up to 40km. A beacon of unity and hope radiating across Vivid Sydney, all festival long.”

Gumscape with Road and Creatures by Reg Mombassa, Customs House

“Reg Mombassa is one of Australia’s most iconic and loved artists and musicians and I’m delighted to welcome him to the Vivid Sydney family. Come and see retro-futuristic style robots, one-eyed koalas and more weird and wonderful creatures in his iconic style on Customs House. Plus, we’ve got Reg and his band, Dog Trumpet, performing live in a free concert right in front of his projection on Saturday the 25th of May.”

Nest by Leila Jeffreys and Melvin J Montalban, Stargazer Lawn

“I’m beyond excited to have Leila Jeffreys and Melvin J Montalban back at Vivid Sydney with Nest after their enormously impactful work Temple from Vivid Sydney 2022. Nest explores our relationship with nature, showcasing the ritualistic mating dance of the brolga. It’s beautiful and it will stay with you long after the festival. Catch it on Stargazer Lawn at Barangaroo Reserve.”

Sea, Sand and Stars by Guan Wei, Museum of Contemporary Art

“Celebrated Chinese-Australian artist Guan Wei will take you on a journey. This is the first time his work has been transformed into a light projection, and it’s a spectacularly magical result. As you stand in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art, you’ll zoom from a day at Bondi Beach to the outer reaches of space.”

Omnivisu by GreenEyl, North Village Greens, Darling Quarter

“Imagine seeing your own eyes projected onto a building behind Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour. That’s Omnivisu for you. It’s fantastically fun and our way of making you feel a part of the Vivid Sydney all festival long. Step up and see yourself as part of the cityscape.”

Fireplaces, Vivid Fire Kitchen and Tumbalong Park

“Who doesn’t love a good fire? Hypnotic, mesmerising, and a place to gather and tell a good story. This year, at Tumbalong Park and the Vivid Fire Kitchen, we’re celebrating with fire sculptures, flame throwers and other fiery installations. Come soak in the warmth and spectacle of the flames with us.”

Horizon by Playmodes, Harbour Park, Barangaroo

“Get ready for a full-bodied, mind-blowing experience! Horizon is 80 metres long and plays with your spatial perception using hypnotic light and sound. It’s transformative, it’s mind-bending, and it will take you on a journey beyond the horizon to test the limits of human potential.”

Vivid Fire Kitchen, The Goods Line

“There’s nothing quite like fire-cooked food and every culture around the world agrees! At Vivid Fire Kitchen you’ll find food trucks, markets stalls and barbecue stands serving wood-fired pizza, Sudanese BBQ sandwiches, Greek street food, Malaysian bites and much, much more. Plus, local pit master Lennox Hastie, Australian culinary legend Christine Manfield and Michelin-starred Swede Niklas Ekstedt, amongst lots of others, will also be doing live cooking demos.”

Vivid Residence, Ploós

“The incredible, trailblazing Manoella Buffara from globally revered Manu in Brazil is heading down under for this special residency. She’ll step behind the pans at waterfront Greek restaurant Ploos, smack bang in the middle of the glittering Light Walk, to cook her award-winning sustainable fine dining in Australia for the first time. You can savour a nine-course dinner menu or seven-course lunch – don’t miss this chance to enjoy the work of one of South America’s best chefs.”

Vivid Chef Series, various locations

“Something special happens when two cultures and cuisines meet, especially in the kitchen. At this fabulous series of dinners, several international chefs are coming Sydney to collaborate with leading local restaurants. Sally Abé is teaming up with her former colleague Billy Hannigan, head chef at Charles Grand Brasserie. Ivan Brehm, chef-owner of Nouri, the beloved Michelin-starred Singapore restaurant, will join AALIA executive chef Paul Farag and Fred’s executive chef Ben Greeno will host Max Coen of Dorian, the London hotspot.”

Taste, See, Connect, House Canteen, Bennelong Point Lower Concourse, Sydney Opera House

“For a delicious feast, stunning views and excellent price point, you can’t go past Taste, See, Connect. You’ll be sat right below the Sydney Opera House sails enjoying a pan-Asian feast of dumplings, sushi, share plates and dessert. All for $49! Amazing value, in one of the best Vivid Sydney vantage points.”

Julian Ramundi, curator and producer, Vivid Music 

“This year, music lovers can expect a diverse and exciting range of experiences, from free outdoor concerts to ticketed events in exclusive, heritage-listed buildings. There is something for everyone – from nine to 90, from around the globe and around the corner.”

Tumbalong Nights, Tumbalong Park

“Tumbalong Nights is the beating heart of the festival, with a diverse range of free entertainment every night. We’ve got DJs, headline talent like Budjerah and Mallrat, First Nations voices like 3% feat. Jess Mauboy, along with sounds from around the globe in various languages like our K-Indie and Afrobeat nights, and so much more! You can dance or sing showtunes with Club Broadway – we’ve even got a kid’s program. It’s all live and it’s all free.”

Ngulmiya, Machine Hall Precinct, 183 Clarence St, Sydney

“Ngulmiya will put on an incredible and profound show. This Arnhem Land song man uses his powerful, pure voice to sing in language, accompanied by chamber music. Critics around the world herald his shows as nothing short of revolutionary.”

Club 4A x Eastern Margins, Machine Hall Precinct, 183 Clarence St

“4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art are known for their excellent Club 4A nights that meld the world of art and dance-floor revelry. This Vivid Sydney exclusive will be a genre-mash of artists from the Asian diaspora including Melbourne hyper metal artist Daine and Chinese Australian guzheng composer Mindy Meng Wang, along with Sydney’s 700 Feel and Dylan Atlantis. A party like no other.”

Deerhoof, Machine Hall Precinct, 183 Clarence St

“Deerhoof’s performance is set to be a catalytic fusion of sound and surprise, typical of their experimental and wild approach to music and their live shows. The legendary, indie band from San Francisco will perform their quirky Japanese-language album Miracle-Level. It’s going to be great.”

Vivid Sydney Supper Club, Mary’s Underground

“The Supper Club program this year is a fantastic smorgasbord of live music, comedy and spoken word. Hosts Rhys Nicholson and Georgia Mooney are roping in their long list of famous friends, from Mo’Ju and Zoe Coombes Marr, Michael Hing to Annabel Crabb and Julia Zemiro to Paul Capsis. There are nights celebrating the great divas of history to a spectacular game show, a night of (adult) bedtime stories to a kids play date for grown ups, it’s going to be a riot.”

Rachel Healy, curator, Vivid Ideas and special events

“This year, our Vivid Ideas program offers a range of very different experiences as a way of exploring ideas and what it means to be human. We’ve packed the 23 nights of the festival with international, Australian and local events including dance, walking tours, cinema and intimate one-on-one experiences plus gripping debates, talks and panel discussions. Try them all!”

After the Fact, Rekodo, Barangaroo House

“After the Fact is a brand new program held at Barangaroo House every weeknight of the festival. A different set of notable panellists every night, like Lucy Turnbull, Kim Williams, Annabel Crabb, Stephen Page, will come together to debrief the issues and breaking news of the day. It’s an engaging and fun way to kick off the festival each night, post-work drink in hand.”

A THOUSAND WAYS: An Encounter, State Library of New South Wales

“This transplant from New York is a critically acclaimed piece of fully immersive “theatre”. I don’t want to give too much away – part of what makes this piece so profound and special is the element of surprise. I’ll just say that this event is designed to peel back the layers of everyday social interactions to reveal the humanity underneath.”

Shifting Perspectives, Walsh Bay Arts Precinct, Pier 2/3 Event Space

“Shifting Perspectives is an unforgettable work of contemporary, immersive dance. The ingenious work of both Matthew Adey, the man behind Dark Mofo’s House of Vnholy, and Restless Dance Theatre, will challenge the way you see the world. Part riddle, part revelation, the whole piece takes place in a labyrinth of spinning mirror plinths as light, sound and bodies dance around you, upending your perceptions of reality and artifice.”

AI Will Destroy Humanity: A Future Science Debate, Parliament House, Legislative Council Chambers

“This isn’t your average debate. When we say it’ll be a night of comedy, calamity and contemplation, we really mean it. We’ve brought together comedy nerds like Adam Spencer and leading science minds so they can debate not just the future of AI, but the future of humanity as we know it. Taking place in the majestic and weighty setting of Parliament House’s Legislative Council chambers it’s the zeitgeist event not to be missed.”

For the full spectrum of events and to create your own itinerary through the festival, visit vividsydney.com.

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