The Vivid Light Walk is the best way to experience highlights of the annual Sydney light festival. It is the zing of seeing the city in a whole new light, when business suits leave and pleasure-seekers take over the night.

** UPDATE ** Vivid Sydney will return 6 – 28 August 2021 after the 2020 display was cancelled due to COVID19.

Vivid Sydney is a three week spectacle of large-scale light installations across the city designed to be explored on foot. It’s also a festival of music and ideas, if you need any more excuses to step outside at night.

Over the 11 years of the Sydney light festival, Vivid has grown to light up eight city precincts.

  • Circular Quay
  • The Rocks
  • The Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Barangaroo
  • Darling Harbour
  • Luna Park
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Chatswood

The Vivid Light Walk is the best way to see the Sydney light festival. It is the recommended route to explore Vivid’s epicentre around Circular Quay, The Rocks and Botanic Gardens.

It’s possible to extend this route by walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Luna Park. This addition also offers a new perspective looking back to the lit-up Bridge and Opera House.

In 2019, a secondary Vivid Light Walk groups together the Barangaroo and Darling Harbour precincts. The remaining Taronga Zoo and Chatswood areas are best explored separately.

When is Vivid Sydney 2021

It's just been announced that Vivid 2021 will be held 6 to 28 August (in previous years it was held for three weeks from late May).

Vivid Sydney Walking Trail

Expect the 2021 walking route to be similar to that announced for the 2019. It will change depending on each year's installation placements, although many of the precincts are used each year.

Vivid Sydney Botanic Gardens

In 2019, as I was in the crush of people around Circular Quay, I noted that next time I would head to the far more open spaces of the Botanic Gardens. That said, the event planners are more aware of crowd control in 2021 due to COVID19.

Vivid Sydney Opera House

Seeing the sails lit up is a highlight of the light show. I'll update this once the 2021 festival is announced, with some of the best vantage points to view and photograph the Opera House.

Vivid Light Walk Map

Vivid Light Walk Map PDF

In good news, the organisers release a free walking map each year, available for download. 

Vivid Sydney Walking Tour

For the last few years, Urban Adventures has offered a guided walking tour of key Vivid sites.

Vivid Times

Most sites are open from approximately 6:30pm to 10 or 11pm.

More Ways to See Vivid Sydney

It's free to explore on foot yourself but for a different perspective, try a harbour cruise.



Tara Wells is a freelance journalist who is delighted to combine her love of hiking – and Sydney – with storytelling.

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