Vivid Sydney -- arguably the Southern Hemisphere’s most flamboyant festival of color, light and ideas -- enters its final days this weekend along the city’s iconic waterfront from the Sydney Opera House all the way around Walsh Bay and into Darling Harbor. For three more nights, Vivid will light up the winter sky in a burst of colors and turn Australia’s biggest city into a glowing museum.
Since the event kicked off two weeks ago, Vivid has dazzled hundreds of thousands of visitors and blossomed to include fireworks, new music venues and roving Tronlike rollerbladers. The Vivid Aquatique show -- part of a major expansion that helped make Vivid three times larger this year than it was last year -- attracted more than 110,000 visitors in the first week alone. Over the past two weeks, it has nearly doubled in size to include more lights, new full-color lasers and three new water jets.
“For businesses in Darling Harbor, the large crowds coming to see the Vivid Aquatique show every night has been very positive,” enthused Catherine Gallagher, CEO of Sydney Harbor Foreshore Authority. “Restaurants, bars, cafes and shops are really buzzing, and there’s a great atmosphere.”
Over in Circular Quay, Vivid’s longest-ever Light Walk boasts more than 60 interactive installations this year, including items such as pianos and seesaws that light up according to users’ movements. It, too, attracted more than 100,000 out-of-town visitors in its first three days alit.
“Vivid Light is an amazing walkway from the shells of the Opera House through 3-D-mapped buildings and interactive light installations. You touch them, and they move. You talk to them, and they react,” explained Destination New South Wales CEO Sandra Chipchase. “We’ve also expanded to the Harbor Bridge this year, where our key partner Intel is showcasing its technology. On the west side of the bridge, there is a touch-screen pad where you can light it up in the colors of the rainbow.”
Although Vivid Sydney is a collaborative event, it’s wholly owned and operated by Destination NSW, and Chipchase acknowledged that it’s not cheap to put on, noting, “To have a state government like ours in New South Wales that is willing to invest in creative technology and services to basically underwrite the event is pretty major.”
Chipchase said Destination NSW “very conservatively” estimates the event pumps more than $10 million into the local economy. Last year, more than 500,000 visitors turned up -- a considerable number for a remote nation like Australia.
Indeed, Vivid is part of a major drive to lure tourists to Sydney during its traditional low season. The Land Down Under has struggled in recent years to convince visitors to invest in a trip across the globe, given pricey airfares and a soaring Australian dollar. Consequently, the local government has thrown heaps of money behind Vivid’s expansion and promotion (particularly in Chinese social media). When the lights turn off on Monday, Destination NSW hopes to announce a record year.
Scroll down for a look at the 2013 Vivid Sydney, which runs through Monday.