When the air gets a little colder and our nights become a little darker, Vivid Sydney turns the lights back on and bring the people back into our city to experience the colourful nightlife and interactive installations that the festival has to offer.

Destination NSW are responsible for putting on the event each year, and after a hugely successful 9 years, it’s easy to see why the crowds keep coming back, again and again, to be wowed.

This year I decided to change up my usual ‘Vivid Itinerary’ and try something new. So I bought tickets to see the Vivid activations at Taronga Zoo, and with that, I was off on a boat making my way across Sydney.

I have to admit, seeing the fluorescent city lights from the ferry was one of the best ways to view the event. Pulling out of the harbour and looking back at the Opera House and the Bridge is rewarding in itself, not to mention seeing the buzzing sights illuminated in a different perspective. It really does make you look at Sydney in a different light (pardon the great pun).

On arrival to Taronga Zoo, a shuttle bus escorts all ticket-payers to the front entrance of the zoo, as the cable cars can only be accessed from the top of the grounds during Vivid. The façade of the entry building is illuminated with gorgeous animations of all things animal kingdom- beautiful stories of elephants and whales, all animated with their own soundscape and narration.

Each person is given a glow in the dark map on arrival and an illuminated wrist band. The wristband changes colours with each installation you visit, and is a great way of connecting the audience with their surroundings. The glow in the dark map is also a really cool feature which is equally as practical when you’re walking around dark areas.

Before commencing our walk around the zoo, I immediately wanted to go on the cable cars (I really am a big kid at heart).
The cable cars had neon lights installed in their roofs, so when they moved around the zoo they look like beautiful floating lights. The ride was a round trip, and at the loop at the bottom, we found a really cool surprise. The team at Vivid

had a great idea to create an exciting experience which would catch riders off guard.

Hundreds of green lasers and smoke machine waited for us at the bottom, and the lasers danced around the space and added a really fun element to the ride.

After returning back to ground, I found my way on the Vivid light walk, and was quickly greeted with spectacular glowing lanterns. When I say lanterns, I’m talking huge steel framed animals with stunning designs, all internally lit. These have a really gorgeous look, and nothing is too overpowering. The only improvement I could suggest for majority of these lanterns, as most don’t move, is to add a cool soundscape to the area. For example, the giant bee lanterns could have an interesting buzzing sound around them when people move into their area.

There were heaps of installations to look at. My favourite were the ones made out of recyclable material- such as the stingray below made with milk cartons. Vivid added a really nice conservation element to match in with the Zoo’s efforts and had an educational aspect to the displays.

The lantern displays are fabulous; however, the event doesn’t feature all of the classic ‘Vivid elements’. It’s missing a sense of interaction, whether that be the audience having the option to create or play with the installations. A lot of the audience at the zoo were little kids, and as history shows, they love touching, creating and playing with things. The zoo also lacked Vivid’s classic lighting elements. Some areas had great lighting and smoke machines, but the walk could’ve done with some projections or lighting features on walls or infrastructure.

As the Taronga Zoo event is ticketed, you can actually enjoy the lights at your own pace.

There’s no crowds, no pushing people and no queues. It’s a really well managed event that I found the highlight of my Vivid trip – I would definitely come back to experience Taronga Zoo again.

So if you’re a newbie to Vivid or simply want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Taronga Zoo is definitely the place to be. Just be sure to pack a beanie and scarf for the adventure ahead of you!