Vivid Sydney is an annual outdoor lighting festival with immersive light installations and projections in Sydney. Part of the lighting festival also includes performances from local and international musicians and an ideas exchange forum featuring public talks and debates from leading creative thinkers. This winter event takes place in central Sydney over the course of three weeks in May and June. The centrepiece of Vivid Sydney is the light sculptures, multimedia interactive work and building projections that transform various buildings and landmarks such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in and around the Sydney central business district into an outdoor night time canvas of art. During the 2015 festival, sites of interest were Central Park, Chatswood and the University of Sydney as well as around the CBD, Darling Harbour and The Rocks.
Vivid began as a Smart light festival in 2009 for energy efficiency curated by Lighting Designer Mary-Anne Kyriakou and headlined by Brian Eno. Eno, in collaboration with lighting designer Bruce Ramus, projected Light Painting onto both sides of the Opera House. The Festival was championed by Mary-Anne Kyriakou, Anthony Bastic, Mike Day, Davina Jackson, Carolyn Grant and Barry Webb.
According to New South Wales Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, Vivid 2012 attracted more than 500,000 visitors to the outdoor exhibition and events, generating around $10 million in income for the state, whereas Vivid 2013 attracted more than 800,000 visitors, contributing more than $20 million to the NSW economy. In 2014, the festival involved the Opera House, Walsh Bay, Circular Quay, The Rocks, North Sydney, Darling Harbour, and, joining in for the first time, Harbour Lights, The Star and Carriageworks. A new projected work by London based creative team 59 Productions illuminated the sails of the Sydney Opera House. In 2015, Vivid Sydney attracted more than 1.7 million visitors to the city. The 2016 Vivid event is expected to include an expanded program of multi-genre music, stimulating presentations and Vivid Talks from global presenters and dazzling light projections across the city. In 2016, a display was added at Taronga Zoo.
Another activity located in the harbor was called the Heart of the City. This was one of the more popular activities at Vivid Sydney 2015 due to its immersive nature. The Heart of the City resembled a large, solid beanbag chair and was located near the Sydney Opera House. Upon reaching the front of the line, participants would be asked to seat themselves in the middle of the chair. Once seated, they would be instructed by a Vivid Sydney volunteer to insert their finger into a small hole located near the chair. If your finger was inserted right, the chair would begin to light up red to match your heartbeat. As participants began to notice this, their heart rate would increase causing the chair to light up very quickly.