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The 15 Best Things To See And Do At Vivid 2017 According To The Curators

The 15 Best Things To See And Do At Vivid 2017 According To The Curators

Vivid Sydney is certainly one Australia’s favourite arts and culture festival. Each year, Vivid lights up the city figuratively and literally, with music, ideas, and dazzling lights flooding the city and its many creative venues.

This year is bigger and better than ever, with dozens of events to choose from, ranging from international bands to upcoming local musicians, talks from some of the world’s biggest speakers, entrepreneurs and scientists, and a wide scope of exciting and innovative live performance.

When it comes to picking and choosing events to attend, it’s hard enough to know where to start, let alone coordinate your entire Vivid itinerary. So we decided to go straight to the source for a little guidance: the people who curated the whole damn thing.

We spoke to Vivid Sydney’s Creative Director Ignatius Jones, and Vivid Music curator Stephen Ferris, about their own personal top five picks for Vivid Lights, Ideas and Music.

Vivid Light
Creative Director, Ignatius Jones:

#1 Magicians of the Mist, Darling Harbour


Twenty-eight tonnes of water will be thrown into the air every minute, while lasers, flame jets, music and fireworks combine in a celebration of the power of creativity and innovation at Darling Harbour. Magicians of the Mist water theatre will be a spectacular display of technology and art defining the digital era.

#2 Lights for the Wild, Taronga Zoo


This year, visitors to Taronga Zoo can become part of this fully immersive experience by interacting Vivid’s light sculptures like never before. Lights for the Wild will bring back the giant animal light sculptures that wowed the crowd in 2016 with some new faces including PJ the Port Jackson Shark, a floating stingray, pelican, Tasmanian Devil and a Gorilla-gram.

#3 Future City Smart City, Chatswood


The buildings, shopping malls, streets and laneways of Chatswood CBD will be reinvented as a retro-futuristic smart city called Future City Smart City with ingenious installations and light sculptures inspired by the ‘Steampunk’ design aesthetic of 19th century steam-powered machinery. An incredible submerged steampunk water world of lights, sounds and special effects inspired by the likes of Jules Verne awaits at the Reflection Pool in The Concourse.

#4 Immersion: Vivid Sydney at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Vivid 2016 at the Royal Botanic Gardens

The festival’s bright lights will return to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney with an expanded trail that will take visitors through the heart of the beautiful harbourside oasis. Birds of Lumos, inspired by the rare Rowi species of the New Zealand kiwi, will come to life as they glow and pulse with colour and a pop-up landmark celebrating our Harbour City, Sydneyland, will provide an iconic photo backdrop for visitors and locals.

#5 Lighting of the Sails: Audio Creatures

Vivid Sydney 2016, opening night. 27/5/2016 Photo credit - James Horan/Destination NSW

At the heart of the Vivid Sydney light walk, the sails of the World-Heritage listed Sydney Opera House will be brought to life by a series of imaginary creatures curated and designed by acclaimed cinematographer, editor, and graphic designer Ash Bolland. Audio Creatures will show creatures interacting with the environment, morphing and moving between each other across the iconic Sails and will again delight visitors and locals.

Vivid Ideas
Creative Director, Ignatius Jones:

#1 Kings Bloody Cross: The Noise Next Door

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We are delighted to add Kings Cross to this year’s Vivid Sydney line-up, and in particular provide Sydney with a chance to turn back the clock to capture the rich and captivating world of Kings Cross in the 70s and 80s. This is a ‘warts and all’ exploration of Kings Cross’s provocative and irresistible history, including larger-than-life characters and scandalous tales from a very different era.

Across three weekends, there’ll be back-to-back ‘in conversation events’ where you can hear stories by artists, activists, musicians and historians about the heady days of rock n roll, corruption, free love and politics. Expect insights into the dirty half mile’s people, bohemia and places as listeners walk on the wild side of Sydney’s ‘ungentrified’ past. This is a history lesson not to be missed!

#2 Shepard Fairey

Photo: Jonathan Furlong

One of the world’s most respected street artists, the iconic Shepard Fairey will be creating one of his largest public murals ever in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. Shepard is probably best known for his Barack Obama HOPE campaign, as well as this year’s ‘We The People’ initiative where his posters flooded social media and news broadcasts during Trump’s inauguration. His distinctive style is instantly recognised. This will be his first visit to Australian in 14 years.  You can also hear him talk about his creative processes and see his artworks at a free exhibitions at Darling Quarter. We expect him to share his DIY approach to street art, and insights into turning his creativity into an authentic voice in street culture.

#3 Jonah Peretti


Vivid Sydney is building a global reputation from bringing some of the brightest minds in creative industries to Sydney and we are thrilled to have BuzzFeed Founder and CEO Jonah Peretti make his first Australian appearance also at Vivid Ideas. Peretti will share with us his thoughts on the evolution of the media industry in the digital age. He is a true global visionary and a digital mastermind, so I’m interested to hear his take on the future of publishing. Before launching BuzzFeed, he co-founded The Huffington Post, so few people in the world are better placed to talk about his thoughts on the media industry worldwide and his predictions for where we’re going next.

#4 Oliver Stone

Photo: Flickr

I’m personally very pleased to have Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone speaking at Vivid. An absolute visionary of film, he is a true Hollywood legend and a master storyteller. Oliver has carved a reputation that is synonymous with quality and he has a well-earned place in cinematic history. Many of his films have been the most influential cinematic events of our time, changing conversations on countless difficult topics and influencing film makers for generations to follow. Stone is a master at tackling controversial subjects and his hard-hitting style takes a realistic and truthful look at the world.

#5 The Sunrise Conference


Now firmly established as Sydney’s startup annual event, this is a chance to see behind the scenes of Australia’s brightest minds in business and hear their secrets of success direct from the best startup founders in Australia today. The Sunrise is all about delving deep into the future of technology, business and building the all-important support network that is necessary to foster Australia’s startup ecosystem. The conference brings together a host of our country’s most inspiring and impressive start up creatives to share stories of how their companies were born and scaled.

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Vivid Music
Vivid Music Curator, Stephen Ferris:

#1 Diane Reeves, City Recital Hall

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City Recital Hall breaks from its classical roots with an incredible program – Metamorphosis – serving up everything from jazz and dance anthems, to multisensory masterpieces. A highlight of this program will be a special one off performance by Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Dianne Reeves. Dianne’s magical, timeless voice combined with the sheer force of her performance I think will make this a really powerful show, and the City Recital Hall is such a good venue for an artist of Dianne’s calibre. There’s no one else in the Vivid Music program with her musical credentials!

#2 Vanessa Wagner’s Cosy Nook, Captain Cook Hotel

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Vanessa Wagner and promoter (the man behind the wig), Tobin Saunders have been at the vanguard of queer/mixed events, performances, and DJing for over 30 years. Vanessa is an icon of Sydney’s LBTQI scene and she will be joined by talented DJ Ben Drayton (Bad Dog) to celebrate the city’s extraordinary Gay culture at this event.

#3 Personal Best Label Showcase, Freda’s

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Photo: Personal Best

Two exciting up and coming Sydney bands, The Goods and Moody Beach will take to the Freda’s stage on Saturday 27 May at this label party. Personal Best is THE label to watch, growing from their first Vivid Music showcase two years ago at Oxford Art Factory.

#4 Heaps Gay: The Kaleidoscope, The Factory Theatre

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Heaps Gay and Vivid Sydney are back for their third collaboration, The Kaleidoscope, a swirling, hallucinatory journey at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre. This incredible event will feature an amorphous cloud of spectacular talent across three stages, bringing you live music, DJs, performance, and visual art showcasing the pioneering edgy new queer scene in Sydney.

#5 Dappled Cities, City Recital Hall


Sydney based indie rock band Dappled Cities will launch their new album IIIII (pronounced five) as part of the Vivid Music Program at City Recital Hall on June 4. Combining their trademark layered soundscape with an immersive lighting spectacle the one-off concert will showcase the characteristic ethereal melodies and textures that have made Dappled Cities one of the most beloved indie bands to emerge from Sydney over the past two decades.

Can’t wait for Vivid? Check out the full website for a better idea of everything on offer.

Vivid Sydney 2017 takes place from May 26 until June 17, 2017.

(All images: Vivid Sydney unless otherwise specified)

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