Sydney Vivid Festival 2019 dates announced
Sydneysiders tend to hibernate in winter (the minute it gets below 20ºC/68ºF its time for the Ugg boots and winter coats to come out :)), so I’m convinced the Vivid Festival was born from the need to get people back into the city in winter.
For those of you unfamiliar with Vivid, it is a 23 day festival of “Lights, Music & Ideas” and each year it expands a bit more from the main areas around Circular Quay and Darling Harbour. This year Vivid will run from May 24th – June 15th. While the actual schedule hasn’t yet been announced, any night you venture out during those dates, you will experience some of the iconic Sydney landmarks, like the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and MCA spectacularly lit up. If you’re planning a visit, I’d recommend heading out during a week night to avoid some of the crowds.
If you’re keen to capture the visual elements of Vivid, but aren’t terribly confident with your night light photography, there are a lot of photography workshops you can join who will give you some tips. Last year, I joined a Nisi workshop (they loan you one of their natural night filters to test out too) and got some of the most amazing shots. I can definitely recommend these guys but there are others around that I’m sure are equally as good.
Best Hotels for Vivid
Hotels in Sydney don’t tend to sell out over Vivid, so if you plan a last-minute trip, you should be able to find accommodation unless something else is also going on in the city. But…if you want a room with a view, that’s a different story. I know of some keen photographers that pool together and book out rooms, so if you’re looking for a view, I’d definitely book in advance. Sydney hotel prices are eye-watering at the best of times, but anything with a view of Circular Quay is even more so. Try Darling Harbour if the first few below make you want to cry. Or, I’ve included two alternative hotels that are good choices if international 5* hotels aren’t you’re thing. They aren’t in the heart of Vivid, but still easily accessible by public transport or Uber.
The Shangri-la is situated in the Rocks, about a five minute walk from Circular Quay. The views over Circular Quay are amazing! Be sure to search for their Opera House or Sydney Harbour rooms for the best views. Alternatively, you can head to their Altitude Restaurant or Blu Bar on 36 for equally fab views
Step out from the lobby and Vivid is virtually on your doorstep. Inside, start with the Deluxe Full Harbour view room types for the best views. Of course, you could always splash out on the Opera Royal Suite and watch the art of the Opera House change from your bathtub! Locals shouldn’t dismay either; last year the Four Seasons did a Vivid set menu at their Mode restaurant, which included free parking.
Part of the Autograph Collection (a Marriott brand), this is one of my favourite hotels in Sydney. Sitting virtually underneath the Harbour Bridge and along the water, you’re steps away from Dawes Point, a great spot to photograph the Opera House. Book into the Harbour View Suite if you want views from your room, but really, book any room type and just head outside. When you’re tired of the lights, head to one of their Igloos on the harbour, where you can warm up with a hot toddy (be sure to book in advance).
Following a remodel, this has quickly become one of the most booked hotels in Sydney (no surprise, given it now has 892 rooms!). Overlooking Darling Harbour, this is a great choice of accommodation, being both convenient for Vivid as well as exploring the city. Don’t miss Zephyr, the open-air rooftop bar overlooking Darling Harbour.
One of the newer hotels in the city, this hotel is perfect if you’re combining a conference and Vivid as it is adjacent to Sydney’s ICC. Sitting right on Darling Harbour, head outside and check out the Vivid display and then grab dinner at a number of new restaurants open around the ICC. Too bad it will be winter, or you could swim in the outdoor pool that overlooks Darling Harbour.
Unfortunately The Old Clare doesn’t offer any views of Vivid, but its so cool, it doesn’t need to. The Old Clare is the hotel that Sydney was missing for so long. It’s a boutique offering that has converted an old brewery and pub into a warm but stylish hotel. Rooms are a combination of industrial and comfy, ensuring the character of the building hasn’t been lost, but you will definitely Instagram the room. The bar is gritty but cool and definitely a buzzy local spot, rather than a stale hotel bar. The rooftop pool and bar recently opened to the public, and is a great spot for afterwork drinks. Lastly, there are great restaurant choices within the hotel, or you can head right outside to Kensington Street, where you have a myriad of cool drinking and eating options.
Not budget, but normally a bit more wallet friendly are the newish kids on the block, Veriu. There are a few Verius around Sydney, but this one is the most central, situated on the fringes of Surrey Hills. Hope on a bus or train from Museum station, and you’re down in Circular Quay in no time.