Vivid Sydney
Festival of light

Vivid Sydney

In 2020, Sydney’s biggest winter festival had to go on hiatus - but in September 2021 it’s coming back bigger than ever!
17 Sep 2021
09 Oct 2021

The Rocks is transforming into a playground of the unexpected for 23 days this September during Vivid Sydney. The city’s oldest precinct will come alive with light, colour and creativity, attracting leading sculptors, thinkers and artists from all over Sydney and the world. 

As part of this exciting Sydney event, the cobbled streets and sandstone walls of The Rocks will host over a dozen light sculptures that are guaranteed to intrigue, entertain and provoke thought. Alongside the sculptures, creatives from all over the world will share their ideas through comedy, panel discussions, workshops and inspiring talks hosted throughout the city. 

There are countless ways to experience Vivid Sydney, but only one place to see the best of it. The Rocks!

Experience Vivid Sydney in the Rocks

Public spaces in The Rocks will host 16 pieces of original light sculpture during the festival. That includes audiovisual storytelling exhibits, bizarre and intriguing light sculptures, and interactive pieces that come alive when approached. 

The sculptures will be arranged throughout the precinct, from harbourside parks to winding laneways and cobblestone streets. All sculptures and events will be easy walking distance from each other so you can see them in one night or over a light-filled weekend in The Rocks. 

To help you see the best of Vivid Sydney, we’ve put together a selection of essential highlights:

  • One Big Backyard: a collection of stories about Sydney locals told in light and illustration by director Bim Ricketson and illustrator James Hancock.
  • Symbiosis: a blooming of exquisite 3D paintings in the Argyle Cut that explores the relationship between humans, flora fauna and minerals.
  • Shard: three 2.2m tall 3D shards that act as mirrors during the day then illuminate at night to tell dreamtime stories from Arnhem Land.
  • Sharing the Same Life Essence: a celebration of the Gadigal people through Wayne Quilliam’s photography, beamed across the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

For a full list of Vivid Sydney events and sculptures showing in The Rocks, see below.


From 6pm each night, you can expect incredible 3D projections and light shows transforming public spaces and architecture around The Rocks waterfront areas.

Things to do in Sydney & The Rocks

You may come for the light and warmth of Vivid Sydney, but you’ll want to stay for the incredible eating, drinking, shopping and entertainment on offer in The Rocks. 

If you’re a fan of French pastries (who isn’t) you’ll need to visit La Renaissance Cafe, known for baking Sydney’s, and perhaps Australia’s, best. For a classic Australian pub meal with a stunning panoramic view of Sydney, visit The Glenmore Hotel and grab a seat on their bustling rooftop. 

For dinner, don’t miss Sargeant Lok. They serve a menu of refined Asian fusion cuisine and cocktails in a heritage space that was once one of Sydney’s main jails. If you fancy a beverage after dinner, head to Franc Mac’s where you’ll find a selection of over 120 gins, crafted cocktails and a restored heritage space to relax in. 

When it comes to shopping in The Rocks, you can’t beat The Rocks Markets. On every Friday night and Saturday/Sunday during the day, these markets feature dozens of stalls selling artisan crafted goods, gifts and delicious food.

Staying in The Rocks

Visit The Rocks during Vivid Sydney and, trust us, you’re going to want to stay a little longer! There are countless luxury hotels and affordable options here, many of which may have views over the precinct’s light sculptures:

  • Shangri-La Sydney: for unparalleled views over Sydney Harbour and a little luxury.
  • Park Hyatt Sydney: modern, intimate accommodation right on the harbour's edge.
  • Sydney Harbour YHA: budget friendly accommodation with rooftop harbour views.
  • Harbour Rocks Hotel: boutique accommodation inside a restored heritage building.

Check out the full range of places to stay in The Rocks here. 


Getting to The Rocks

Getting to The Rocks is as easy as a hop, skip and a jump - whether you’re driving, cycling, walking or taking public transport:

  • Driving: Paid street parking is available throughout The Rocks. There are parking buildings on George Street, in Quay West and next to the Clocktower. 
  • Bicycle: there are bike tracks into The Rocks from all directions and bike racks throughout. 
  • Light rail: The L2 Randwick line ends at the doorstep of The Rocks on Alfred Street.
  • Train: The Rocks is just a short walk away from Circular Quay and Wynyard Stations.
  • Ferry: Catch a ferry to Circular Quay and you’re just a few minutes walk away. 

Find more information on getting to The Rocks here.