Vivid Sydney 2021: The Must-See List so You Don’t Get Lost In the Cold

Vivid Sydney 2021: The Must-See List so You Don’t Get Lost In the Cold
Ephemeral, Credit: Atelier Sisu/Vivid Sydney

Sydney became a little less colourful last year, as the city decided to cancel its beloved Festival of Lights, Music and Ideas – Vivid – because of that nasty b Covid-19.

This year, we’re hoping to see the city light up once again with the return of Vivid Sydney for 2021. If you’re planning to take advantage of the stellar event (Covid-19 restrictions permitting) here’s everything you need to know.

When is Vivid Sydney 2021?

We’ll see the event, which usually runs from late May through to June, kick off a little later this year.

Vivid Sydney 2021 is set for August 6 to 28, so get your calendars ready.

What is scheduled for this year?

In a statement on the show’s lineup for 2021, Festival Director of Vivid Sydney Gill Minervini shared that this year is being framed as a celebration of “the pure joy of a collective experience”. However, the event will be reshaped to prioritise Covid-safe procedures.

“The 2021 program is full of ways to discover Vivid Sydney for the first time or reconnect with this truly unique event. From the unashamedly populist to the quirkily nuanced, the program is full of surprises, selfie moments and new ways of seeing, hearing, thinking and feeling,” the statement read.

In terms of confirmed events, here are 15 highlights we’re particularly excited about this year. All synopses are via Vivid Sydney.



Darling Harbour, August 6 – 28: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

For Ephemeral, Sydney-based design studio Atelier Sisu has “scattered over 200 larger-than-life illuminated spheres across Cockle Bay, complete with a floating boardwalk, transforming Darling Harbour into a giant bubble bath”.

Details here.


Barangaroo, August 6 – 28: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

This innovative instrument is a large-scale, precisely woven triangular form that reacts to your hand movements by sending light animations reverberating throughout its structure.

Details here.

Lighting of the Sails:

Bennelong Point, August 6 – 28: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Each year an internationally-renowned artist is commissioned to create an original artwork for projection onto the Sydney Opera House that captures the spirit of the iconic landmark recognised as the cultural epicentre of Australia.

Known as Lighting of the Sails, this year Sydney-based agency Curiious Studio will bring to life the stunning Martumili collective painting Yarrkalpa (Hunting Ground), Parnngurr Area 2013 across the spectacular sails, extending the Martu Artists’ stories beyond the walls of a gallery.

Details here.


Circular Quay, August 6 – 28: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Customs House shines again! Be enchanted by VORAX – a seamlessly looping 3D animated epic tale of the quest for all-consuming power. The story begins with an otherworldly temple where an unexpected visitor shows up with only one malicious intention in mind — to become the most powerful being in the world.

Details here.

New York Sunday:

Circular Quay, August 6 – 28: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia will be transformed into majestic cliffs of colour that will shift and morph into new combinations. This installation captures the work of acclaimed artist, Helen Eager, and converts it into a visual journey to be told on the facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia building.

Details here.


Vivid Live: Astral People 10th Anniversary:

Sydney Opera House, August 19 – 20: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Performers including Hiatus Kaiyote, Cosmo’s Midnight, Black Dog Band and DJ Seinfeld have been named in the line-up.

Details here.

Vivid Live: Briggs and Friends:

Sydney Opera House, August 20: 8:00pm – 10:00pm

Details here.

Vivid Live: G Flip:

Sydney Opera House, August 9: 8:00pm – 10:00pm

Details here.

Heaps Gay QWEENS’ BALL at Luna Park:

Luna Park, August 7: 7:00 pm – 1:00 am

This event features Jess B, Okenyo, Mia Rodriguez and Vetta Borne. Tickets are available for this one, here.

Details here.

Vivid LIVE: Sampa The Great presents An Afro Future:

Sydney Opera House, August 8: 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm.

Tickets are available here.


Briggs & Nat’s What I Reckon: Music, Mayhem and Masters of some:

Sydney Town Hall, August 22: 5:00pm – 6:30pm

This Maverick and this Misfit (titles interchangeable) are often accompanied with a language warning. You might also be lucky to get some genuine insights, profound or profanity – we’ll see what happens.

For this year’s Game Changers series, you’ll hear from provocateurs who are using their platform for good, shaking up the norm and having a bit of fun in the process.

Tickets on sale soon.

Magda Szubanski:

Sydney Town Hall,, August 15: 1:00pm – 2:30pm

Magda Szubanski on the healing power of the arts and laughter

Tickets on sale soon.

Flood, fire, plague: Can greener cities protect us from disaster?

Vivid Ideas Exchange, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), August 11: 5:50 pm – 7:00 pm

As one ‘unprecedented’ disaster after another strikes our communities, the struggle of managing this scary ‘new normal’ is becoming all too real.

If we accept that cities can’t protect us from natural disasters, can we use the forces of nature and change to make them work better? Or, does the solution lie in focusing more on health and resilience and less on maximising real estate value?

Tickets on sale soon.

Happy Sad Man:

Vivid Ideas Exchange, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), August 14: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

This session will ask how we can change the language around masculinity and mental health.

Tickets on sale soon.

Love, Sex and Consent: MCA x Vivid Up Late:

Museum of Contemporary Art, August 20: 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Take part in a night of liberating self-love and myth-busting conversations on sex, love and consent. We are celebrating and redefining the language of love – engaging in talks, workshops and performances that tackle body positivity, non-traditional relationships, Dolly Doctor of the 21st century, and more. We won’t have milkshakes, but we promise it will be more fun than what you remember Sex Ed to be!

This event is free.

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