There’s nothing quite as fun as playing tourist in your backyard, especially when it’s as glorious as the NSW capital.
And as VIVID Festival returns to Sydney in 2023 for 23 nights – from 26 May until 17 June – lighting up eight central locations including Central Station, Circular Quay, Darling Harbour and Barangaroo with an epic 57 light attractions by artists from across the globe, we’ve discovered the best ways to experience VIVID from a different perspective.
Hit up the city’s top attractions with your pals or on a glittering date night with extended hours at Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE Sydney, new displays at WILD LIFE Sydney and the most heavenly place to see the light shows from up high in the Sydney Tower Eye.
Best yet, grabbing Merlin’s Sydney Big Ticket offers a four-in-one pass granting you access to these epic attractions with big savings on entry tickets that are valid for up to 60 days, depending on how many attractions you combine.
See Sydney from the heavens
If you haven’t seen Sydney from up high, you haven’t lived! Take the lift 250 metres up to Sydney Tower Eye‘s enclosed observation deck, the highest viewpoint in the city and soak up the sweeping 360-degree views. From the deck, you can point out local landmarks, like the classics of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, and beyond.
Then grab a pair of 3D glasses to tackle a rollicking 4D virtual rollercoaster ride that winds in, through and over Sydney Tower. It’s a priceless way to see Sydney in 21st century style.
VIVID VIEWS: Adventurous souls will love the exhilarating 60-minute Skywalk experience, which allows you to walk along the tower’s outside platform to see the city from a whole new perspective. It’s a unique outdoor experience allows you to be a part of the art soaking up the stunning views from 268m above the city. This is an additional cost to the Sydney Big Ticket, but well worth it.
Rub shoulders with the A-list
Madame Tussauds Sydney is a must do on any Sydney itinerary where you can rub shoulders with the rich and famous, or at least their wax doppelgangers. Did you know it takes 60 artists around 800 hours to create just one of the figures? And a team does daily retouching, grooming and wardrobe repairs to keep the exhibits red carpet ready.
In the music zone, shake it off with Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Adele, Rihanna and Katy Perry. In the Hollywood zone, sashay with the stars of the silver screen like Superman and local hunks like Chris and Liam Hemsworth. And make time for Madame Tussauds Sydney’s hands-on props, activities and photo stations. These interactive exhibits let you put yourselves in the picture, whether catching a wave with Layne Beachley or going head-to-head with Olympic hurdles champion Sally Pearson.
PUCKER UP DURING VIVID: Extended opening hours during VIVID means more time to pucker up with your celebrity crush as you swap Sydney’s bright lights for the limelight. Last entry is extended until 7pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the festival.
The wildest time in Sydney
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is the home of the Aussie Big Five – koala, kangaroo, crocodile, wombat and platypus. It offers a range of exhibits and habitats showcasing different aspects of Australian wildlife – including Dharra the Tasmanian Devil.
We are huge fans of The Koala Rooftop. While not nearly as high as Sydney Tower Eye, entering the enclosure with a keeper, you can get up close with Alfie, one of WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo’s gorgeous, eucalyptus-noshing fluffballs. More than just a chance for a selfie, koala-lovers can learn all about the threatened species and how, due to habitat loss, the species is in decline.
Meanwhile, at Wallaby Cliffs, meet Ringo, the bare-nosed wombat. Or spy adorable Jackie, the resident platypus, in her pond. And, despite years of advice to the contrary, smile at three toothy Freshwater Crocodiles in Crocodile Billabong. Then hop over to Kangaroo Walk-About to stroll amongst a mob of Kangaroo Island Kangaroos for a fun and informative keeper talk that will entertain all ages.
EXTRA WILD DURING VIVID: Experience new high-tech visual displays and digital art during VIVID Festival making WILD LIFE a roaring place to enjoy Sydney’s brightest event. Take a WILD NIGHTS torch-lit tour led by passionate zookeepers, these intimate, one-hour tours offer a rare opportunity to explore the zoo at night and learn more about Australia’s most iconic animals.
SEA the LIFE at this wonderland
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium in the heart of Darling Harbour boasts a six-million-litre underwater wonderland home to over 4,000 animals from over 300 different species – the world’s largest variety of Australian aquatic life! The Aquarium’s incredible themed zones – Day & Night on the Reef, Jurassic Seas, Penguin Expedition, Shark Valley, Dugong Island, Sydney Harbour and the hands-on Discovery Rockpool – are ultra intriguing with talks and feeding sessions to understand these treasures of the deep seas.
Meander through Dugong Island to visit the adorable, rescued dugong, Pig (named for his eating habits). Then immerse in Shark Valley, the breathtaking walk-through ocean tunnel, to spot snaggled toothed Grey Nurse sharks, shaggy bearded Wobbegong sharks and the magnificent giant rays.
Kings of the Colony
The Aquarium’s Penguin Expedition Boat Ride is a first-of-its-kind raft ride that sails through a unique Antarctic landscape of snow and ice to get up close and personal with an adorable colony of King and Gentoo Penguins. Then wobble your way through a jungle of neon-lit jellyfish before ending a visit surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef’s myriad fish and tropical sharks.
EXTRA WONDER DURING VIVID: Expect a little extra wow during VIVID Sydney with extended hours to 8pm (last entry 7pm) on selected dates. Plus enjoy striking displays and new digital art showcasing the amazing marine animals that call the aquarium home at their ‘Life in Another Light’ event.
The perfect companion to the VIVID Festival 2023, book your Sydney Big Ticket early to save over 50% on top attractions, including Sydney Tower Eye, SEA LIFE Sydney, Madame Tussauds Sydney and WILD LIFE Sydney. At just $85 per adult and $65 per child for a four-attraction pass.
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