From Air, Budjerah and Yasiin Bey to 40-Kilometre-Long Laser Beams: Vivid Sydney's Packed 2024 Program Is Here

Celebrating its 14th year, the festival's 23-night lineup will fill the Harbour City with music, lights and openair art, food events and conversation.
Sarah Ward
Published on March 11, 2024

Have you ever looked at Sydney Tower, the Harbour City's tallest structure, and wondered what it'd look like with 40-kilometre-long laser beams shooting out of it? When Vivid Sydney arrives for 2024, you'll no longer need to just ponder that question. The answer comes via Global Rainbow, which will project a fan of light from the tower courtesy of US artist Yvette Mattern. Vivid always boasts light installations and openair art as one of its key pillars, but the annual festival just might outdo itself with this year's display in the heavens.

Across 23 nights between Friday, May 24–Saturday, June 15, in what marks the event's 14th year, Vivid has a plethora of other ways to liven up the New South Wales capital on its just-revealed 2024 lineup. Whether you'd like to hear tunes by Air, Budjerah and Yasiin Bey, or see artwork by Archibald Prize winner Julia Gutman on the Sydney Opera House's sails, or feast your way through a night food market, you'll be catered for at the winter showcase of music, luminous sights, culinary events and conversation.

The theme: humanity. "Humanity is at the core of everything we do, and this year Vivid Sydney is diving deep into what makes us uniquely human," said Vivid Sydney Festival Director Gill Minervini.

"We have curated a diverse program that explores the human spirit, designed to foster connections, spark imagination and showcase the multitude of ways creativity enriches our lives. Everyone is invited to be part of this global event in the world's most beautiful city to connect, create and celebrate."

The Vivid Light program doesn't just include lengthy lasers and Gutman's Echo, but also the return of Lightscape to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney so you'll be able to mosey through lit-up leafiness again. Plus, Reg Mombassa is turning the Customs House facade into a tribute to Aussie road trips, while Guan Wei's works will deck out the Museum of Contemporary Art's exterior.

Our Connected City will light up the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as The Rocks, Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House and a range of buildings in the CBD. If you head to Barangaroo, you'll be able to see two dazzling displays. First, the Stargazer Lawn will welcome a circular projection of the brolga's mating dance called Nest from Leila Jeffreys and Melvin J Montalba. Also, Sinclair Park's Stateless will get 4000 solar-powered LED candles glowing amid the sandstone blocks at Barangaroo Reserve.

Vivid Music, the fest's music festival within the broader festival, is anchored by a heap of must-see gigs at the Sydney Opera House — French favourites Air celebrating their 1998 debut album Moon Safari chief among them. After playing Vivid 2019, Underworld are back to bust out 'Born Slippy (Nuxx)' again at more Australian-exclusive shows. Arca, Sky Ferreira, Fever Ray, Snoh Aalegra, Devonté Hynes with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra: they're all on the bill, too, as are parties from House of Mince, Mad Racket and Astral People.

Budjerah is one of the highlights on Tumbalong Nights' free lineup, which also features grentperez, Mallrat, sunwoojunga and Silica Gel. And Yasiin Bey, who was formerly known as Mos Def, has a two-night stint at Carriageworks, where he'll work through his tunes and influences.

Other standouts on the music program include working the Machine Hall Precinct into the mix, which is where Deerhoof, Underscores, Jen Cloher, No Fixed Address and Ngulmiya will play — and where Trackwork, The Huxleys and CLUB 4A will throw shindigs. Mary's Underground will again host the Vivid Sydney Supper Club. Back at Carriageworks, the venue will welcome Tirzah, Yves Tumor, Electric Fields and X CLUB as well.

At Vivid Food, Vivid Fire Kitchen will go all in on barbecue in its new location at The Goods Line. Vivid Residence and Vivid Chef Series will also be back, but with details still to be revealed. Kyiv Social's Plates with Purpose: A Taste of Ukraine is a ten-course degustation that will make you feel like you're sat at a Ukrainian family's table. And, don't miss the chance to hit up the VividPlace Food Trail, which'll turn Sydney Place and Bulletin Place's laneways into a night food market each night of Vivid.

There's also Our Shared Humanity at Refettorio OzHarvest, with Christine Manfield, Darren Robertson, Mitch Orr and more whipping up three-course vegetarian menus using rescued produce — plus Aurorae at Bennelong Bar, Bennelong's pop-up snack and cocktail bar. Also, A Culinary Canvas by Danielle Alvarez celebrates women in the Australian food and wine scenes in Sydney Opera House's Yallamundi Rooms.

Destination NSW

If you're eager to dissect the current state of the world, that's where Vivid Ideas comes in — and, in 2024, After the Fact especially. It's a new nightly chat through the news cycle, with the panel of guests set to rotate, but keeping the topics up-to-the-minute the aim. Or, if you're keen to embrace Vivid's overarching theme, Golden Age of Humanity will feature Kylie Kwong, Kate McClymont and other influential Aussie introducing films that typify humanity to them over nine evenings. Plus, at AI Will Destroy Humanity: A Future Science Debate, what the future might hold for humankind gets a comic spin.

Add in the participatory A THOUSAND WAYS: An Encounter by New York company 600 Highwaymen, the Kings Cross- and Darlinghurst-focused Sex Work: A legal and social history, and Say My Name: The Humanity of Names — which is all about monikers that are unfairly considered tricky — and there's much to get you thinking. Two other such chances: Window Dressing,  with Liesel Badorrek getting audiences peering into folks' ordinary lives via eight windows in a Frank Gehry building on The Goods Line; and Shifting Perspectives, featuring dancers performing around 24 mirrored plinths.

Shifting Perspectives, Saige Prime

Vivid Sydney runs from Friday, May 24–Saturday, June 15 at various locations around Sydney. Head to the festival website for further details and tickets.

Top image: Destination NSW.

Published on March 11, 2024 by Sarah Ward
Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x