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Seven Vivid Sights You'll See From Atop the American Express Lounge

See the city's famous light spectacle without fighting your way through crowds.
By Marissa Ciampi
May 14, 2019

Seven Vivid Sights You'll See From Atop the American Express Lounge

See the city's famous light spectacle without fighting your way through crowds.
By Marissa Ciampi
May 14, 2019

in partnership with

It's that time of year again — Vivid Sydney 2019 is returning from May 24—June 15. All of the Sydney CBD will be awash with colourful lights and the streets will again bustle with the light-seeking masses. If you want to catch this year's best sights without fighting through the crowds, there's no better place than at the American Express Lounge (you don't even need an American Express card to get in, just register for free access here). Located on the rooftop of Cruise Bar within the Overseas Passenger Terminal, the lounge allows for expansive views across the Sydney Opera House, the MCA, across Circular Quay and the harbour beyond.

Here's a list of all the Vivid sights you'll catch a glimpse at from the comfort of the rooftop lounge.


Destination NSW.


For panoramic views of the City Sparkle light show, the American Express Lounge is the place to be. Created by 32 Hundred Lighting, it's a 'symphony of beams that play across the city skyline'. The show takes place atop some of Sydney's landmarks and, this year, uses 62 interactive light pillars. There will be 15 giant aquabeams along the Harbour Bridge's crest plus additional beams fixed atop the Bennelong Apartments, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Cahill Expressway and 18 CBD rooftops, as well as 13 colourfully lit building facades. If you want to get into more of the action after soaking it all in at the Lounge, head to the control room at East Circular Quay where you can interact with a 3D model of all the structures featured in City Sparkle.cp-line

Austral Floral Ballet by Andrew Thoma Huang and Bemo, render.


Possibly Vivid's most iconic venue, the Sydney Opera House, is also in full view atop the American Express Lounge. This year, the white sails will be adorned by the Austral Flora Ballet light show, created by LA-based Chinese American artist and filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang — the man behind sci-fi-style music videos for Björk, Sigur Rós and Thom Yorke. For Vivid, Huang has joined forces with choreographer Toogie Barcelo and LA design firm Bemo to create a light show that fuses contemporary dance with motion-capture technology. As the name suggests, the projection focuses on Australia's lush native flora — think waratahs, kangaroo paws and red beard orchids, among others.



The Vivid installations aren't the only place to catch the lights, either. On your way up to the American Express Lounge, Cruise Bar will host its own light show. This impressive display will follow you as you head up to the rooftop venue. At the bar's marquee, you'll walk under an additional celestial canopy of lights, too. All this before you even take a seat.cp-line

Let Me Down, render.


The MCA's light installation Let Me Down is also in full view from the American Express Lounge. This year, the show has been created by Sydney-based artist Claudia Nicholson, who is making her Vivid debut. Nicholson was born in Colombia, and the installation acts as a homage to heritage through a mix of cultural traditions and pop culture references. Let Me Down adapts four of the artist's existing works — three alfombras de aserrín (sawdust carpets) and a floral arrangement called silleta. Award-winning LA creative studio Spinifex Group and Adelaide-based producer Lonelyspeck have helped turn the artwork into an animated display of creation, destruction and regeneration, with the works reconstructed through a sort of dance.cp-line

Under the Harbour, render.


From the Lounge, you'll also be able to catch a partial view of Customs House. This year's light display on the facade of Customs House, Under the Harbour, explores the pulsing undersea world of the Sydney Harbour. Designed by Spinifex Group, expect a larger-than-life spectacle of neon-lit sea life, one of which is a giant octopus that wraps its tentacles around the sun. The spectacle will transport viewers into an underwater extravaganza of light and colour and is not to be missed.cp-line

James Horan.


You can nab a glimpse of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge light show while you're up top, too. Both the bridge and the water will be spectacularly lit up by 32 Hundred Lighting, who will incorporate satellite navigation and passing commercial vessels to coordinate the show. Expect a broad colour spectrum to dance along the bridge and throughout the harbour, as local boats by Captain Cook Cruises add to the incredible display.


Celestial Pancake, render.


When entering the ground floor of Cruise Bar, stop for a moment before heading up to the lounge. Here, you'll catch the Celestial Pancake light installation. This fibre-optic suspended light installation is meant to simulate the night sky and boasts colours inspired by space. Visitors can walk beneath the canopy, where hidden microphones allow participants to change the sweeping, spiralling light show by speaking into them. The installation's glittering lights can be seen from near or far and is just as impressive from the warmth of the lounge.cp-line

When you need a break from the crowds but not the lights this Vivid season, American Express has your back. Gain access to the American Express Vivid Lounge for free — even if you don't yet have an American Express card. All you have to do is sign-up here.

Top image: Austal Flora Ballet, Sydney Opera House

Published on May 14, 2019 by Marissa Ciampi

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