Sydney is flicking the switch for the 10th year of Vivid on 25 May. For 23 nights, the annual celebration of light, art and ideas is settling into the iconic harbour city, and we’re pretty stoked about it. Festivals on this scale mean celebrating, and celebrating means eating, drinking and getting well and truly amongst the action. We’ve scoured Sydney from North Sydney to Circular Quay for the best spots to have a glass of wine and a three-course meal, all the way to securing the perfect possie with a beer and a picnic to watch the magic happen.
Rosetta: Wine and cheese never looked so good. Rosetta is extending happy hour from 3pm till 7pm which covers aperitifs to charcuterie. They’re also putting on a two-course set menu ($49) throughout the Vivid run from 6pm each evening.
118 Harrington Street, The Rocks
Fratelli Fresh: The Italian culinary gods at Fratelli are putting their hands up to pack your picnic for you. Choose from take-away picnic baskets (available from Fratelli Fresh Darling Harbour only) and set yourself up on the foreshore to watch the show, or stick around their Darling Harbour restaurant for their three-course set menu ($40) and added bottomless cocktails ($29) every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night throughout Vivid.
ICC Sydney Theatre, Darling Drive, Sydney
Jade Temple: Just a quick stroll back from the harbour, Jade Temple is a great pick for those wanting to kick back and dine in style away from the crowds. They’re putting on a three-course set menu ($45) each day and extending their a la carte hours to kick things off from 5pm.
11 Bridge Street, Sydney
Café Del Mar: Vivid 2017 saw Café Del Mar throw a huge rooftop party starring Boy George. While this year the Boy himself won’t be making an appearance, there’s plenty more to keep you entertained… like one of the biggest light shows in the world, perhaps. This Darling Harbour rooftop gives you a stunning view over Vivid away from the crowds. It’s also fully weather-proof, so keep this one in mind for those nights when the heavens open.
Cockle Bay Wharf – 35 Wheat Road, Sydney
The Bar at the End of the Wharf: The resident bar at Sydney Theatre Company is perfect for those last-minute planners. They have a no-reservations policy, so it’s first come first serve here. Talk about a great incentive to get in there early, snag a good seat and watch the sun go down while the lights go up.
Pier 4, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Rockpool Bar and Grill: take in the best of Sydney from one of Sydney’s best – Rockpool, that is. These guys know how to entertain, and their Vivid Inspired Margarita made with bubble-gum tequila should do the trick. They’re also whipping up a three-course set menu ($79) throughout the festival so it’s as simple as eat, enjoy and be on your merry way.
66 Hunter Street, Sydney
Hacienda: Hacienda is literally lighting things up for Vivid with a limited-edition cocktail of vodka, lavender syrup, lemon and raspberry that goes up in flames before your very eyes. That’s certainly one way to start the night.
Level 3, 61 Macquarie Street, Sydney
Sparkle Cupcakery Cupcake ATM: Yep, you read that right. Sydney is taking a leaf out of NYC’s book and installing the gosh darn cutest candy-striped ATM dispersing perfectly fluffy cupcakes slathered in icing so good it’ll make you nostalgic for your childhood birthday parties. If that’s not the perfect late night sweet treat after a stroll around Vivid or a quick sugary pick-me-up, we don’t know what is.
Light Walk in The Royal Botanic Gardens
O-Bar: At 47 levels above the ground, O Bar is home to one of the best views of the city. Sip on a limited edition ‘Limelight’ cocktail made with Four Pillars Gin before heading down to Circular Quay, or kick back for a spot of fine dining from their a la carte menu.
Australia Square, 264 George Street, Sydney
The Langham:How often can you delve into an interactive dessert experience while watching the lights over Sydney Harbour? Not often, so you’ll want to take this opportunity at The Langham pretty seriously. Think elderflower and rosé granitas, strawberry and cream shortbread and pomegranate infused tequila.
89 – 113 Kent Street, Sydney
Altitude at the Shangri-La: There are few better vantage points across Sydney Harbour than from the Altitude bar and eatery on the 36th level of one of the city’s best hotels. This is a prime option for those who want to stay well away from the crowds and enjoy the art and lights from above.
176 Cumberland Street, Sydney
Bennelong at The Sydney Opera House: Arguably one of Sydney’s most iconic dining experiences. Comfortably nestled right smack bang AT the Opera House, justify your visit by geography – it’s a top place to start the Vivid track along the water before you walk your way through Circular Quay, Miller’s Point and around to Darling Harbour – see? Perfect!
Bennelong Point, Sydney Opera House
Opera Bar: Opera Bar’s limited edition Vivid Menu just about beats Vivid itself on the colour scale. With electric blue, fiery red and bright orange cocktails scattered on each table and the front-on views of the harbour ahead, starting out here for a pre-Vivid bevvie is a no-brainer.
Sydney Opera House – Macquarie Street, Sydney
Café Sydney: As per its namesake, Café Sydney captures that iconic Sydney set-up and wraps it all up in one location. It’s conveniently perched on top of one of the most talked about pieces of art from this year’s Vivid repertoire by May Gibbs who is credited with creating the Aussie Children’s Classic Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. You’ll literally be sitting in the middle of the action… with a cocktail in hand… it doesn’t get better than that!
Customs House – 31 Alfred Street, Sydney
Aria: Aria has one of Sydney’s best vantage points of the harbour, so there’s little wonder as to why a reservation at this award-winning restaurant would be a killer way to take in the sights of Vivid. Be sure to get in there early!
1 Macquarie Street, Sydney
The Argyle: Resident wild-child of The Rocks, The Argyle are bringing the lights inside for a big ol’ bash just a hop, skip and a jump away from the action of Vivid. They’ve teamed up with Belvedere Vodka for all your thirsty needs and The Potbelleez for the tunes.
18 Argyle Street, The Rocks
The Glenmore: The Glenmore’s rooftop is never a bad idea, but when Vivid comes to town, there’s even more reason to rally the troops and get on over. Things get pretty busy at this classic Rocks local, so there’s been a better time to take an early mark and settle in from the afternoon onwards.
96 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
Aqua Dining: Across the harbour from the bulk of the action sits the resident Italian culinary Kings of Milsons Point. Aqua is putting on a five-course set menu for the opening night of Vivid, and taking reservations for the remainder of the run. For a different vantage point than what you’ll get on the city side, it’s a great way to see the whole show unfold from afar.
Paul Street and Northcliff Street, Milsons Point
Ripples: Milsons Point has all the luck – great views and great restaurants. Ripples is taking reservations for the Vivid run, as well as putting on three gastronomic cruises throughout the season. Take in Vivid from the harbour with a four-course set menu and matched wines from this top-notch restaurant aboard a harbour liner (bookings are essential and can be made here).
Olympic Drive, Milsons Point