ICYMI, Vivid Sydney, aka the biggest festival of light, art and music in the world, is back for another year.
From 24 May to 15 June, Sydney will illuminate with everything from innovative programs and thought-provoking seminars, to creative light projections sprinkled across the city and surrounds.
With all that there is to see and do, many restaurants and bars are joining in on the colourful festivities, with special deals and innovative culinary creations ready to top off your Vivid experience.
Use this as your guide to finding the best and most delicious food, acting as your fuel to follow the lights around the city.
What’s better than a dessert bar? Not much, we say – except maybe an ultraviolet dessert bar.
That’s right, Motti & Smith and Belle Laide Events are partnering with dessert gods Gelato Messina to create the Blacklight Dessert Lab: an illuminated installation that serves delicious glowing creations from the inside of a black cube at the heart of Darling Harbour.
This multi-sensory dining experience is every magic lover and sweet tooth’s dream, with collaborations from DOPA, Edition Coffee Roasters and Bubble Nini in the works.
Look out for Messina’s Dulce-de-Lighted three-layer cake topped with a warm strawberry and cinnamon sauce that glows pink.
Where: Darling Square, 35 Tumbalong Boulevard, Haymarket, NSW
Located in Circular Quay, Bar Patrón is a stylish harbourside restaurant/bar that offers authentic Mexican food and artisanal Tequila-based cocktails.
And as it’s in the centre of the Vivid playground, it’s the perfect place to soak up all the energy, while digging into a Chicken Quiles or some Zucchini Ciuche Tostadas.
The restaurant has an indulgent array of menu options for all kinds of Vivid-goers. Order à la carte, or for those in groups, there’s a share style three-course set menu ($35pp), running between 5pm–6pm.
It’s also jazzing up its drinks menu, with classic margaritas half price ($10), served with complimentary chips and salsa.
Where: 2 Phillip Street, Sydney, NSW
As the streets of Barangaroo come alive during Vivid, make sure you check out the hottest venues on offer.
Not only will Untied serve as a rooftop bar, but a funky oasis filled with delicious barbecue dishes, tropical cocktails and a vibrant menu to match too.
The venue will also take you on an exploration through the unusual, with the help of activated charcoal. The ingredient has long been touted as having many health benefits and hangover healing powers.
So come down and test out its powers for yourself, as it will be the star ingredient in its Vivid specials this year…
Where: 400 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo, NSW
As Vivid is a harbourside festival, it makes sense that harbourside dining is the best way to experience all it has to offer.
Watch the iconic bridge light up through floor-to-ceiling windows at Q Dining, while sitting back enjoying its carefully curated menu.
Starting at $89pp, this three-course dinner will leave your mouth watering. Heroes include scallops served with carrot and ginger puree, and crispy skin toothfish with roasted romanesco and bisque.
Where: 61 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW
Vivid is a magical time in Sydney, and what better way to delve into the wonderful season than to wine and dine under the lights of the festival?
Chic cafe and late-night wine bar Three Bottle Man has paired with chef-hatted restaurant Silvesters to transform Bulletin Place laneway into a pop-up lights garden called the Vivid Laneway Dinner Series.
With a menu crafted by Michelin-star chef Raphael Szurek that features sizzling braised lamb shoulders, shucked oysters, and yuzu chocolate bonbons, the dinner is an exclusive experience that will reflect the very soul of the festival.
With three courses at $99pp, including delightfully paired wines with every meal, prepare for an intimate, heavenly experience among the brilliant lights of the city.
Where: 1 Bulletin Place, Sydney, NSW
What’s a true Vivid night out without a funky dessert to sweeten the experience?
Endeavour Tap Rooms, a brew and smokehouse located in The Rocks, is celebrating the magic of the festival with one magical gelato treat, The Unicone.
This delicious dessert costs $12 and packs a punch: think raspberry ice cream, topped with Chantilly cream, homemade mini meringues, fairy floss, and hundreds and thousands.
And while you’re here, make sure you indulge in Endeavour Tap Rooms’ vibrant house menu.
Where: 39/43 Argyle Street, The Rocks, NSW
Known as one of Barangaroo’s best restaurants, it’s no wonder that 12-Micron is hopping straight on the Vivid bandwagon.
Collaborating with legendary French Champagne house Perrier-Jouët, it’s offering one hell of an experience: ‘Dining in the Dark’.
Expect an immersive gastronomical and culinary series that combines art, light and music, where executive chef Daniel Corbett cleverly uses lighting as a way of heightening all the senses, changing the way the food is experienced.
Diners will be guided by ‘sense whisperers’ as they’re presented with a magnificent six-course menu, each expertly paired with a glass of Perrier-Jouët champagne for $190pp. This intimate and multisensory event is available to book from Thursday–Sunday during the festival, so get in early for a chance to dine in the dark.
Where: Tower 1, Level 2/100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo, NSW
If all of the highbrow Vivid talk has got you feeling a little overwhelmed, perhaps a visit to El Camino Cantina is more your thing.
Located above the Argyle in the Rocks, expect loud and proud rock’n’roll tunes alongside a Tex-Mex menu, featuring enough frozen margaritas and imported beers to keep the party going.
Throughout Vivid, the bar will offer awesome daily specials, including $2 Taco Tuesdays, 10 cent Chicken Wing Wednesdays, and half-price Fajita Thursdays.
For those keen to fiesta, there will be limited edition glow in the dark sombreros on offer, ready to accompany you through the festival of lights.
Where: 18 Argyle Street, The Rocks, NSW
Perhaps the biggest project lighting up this year’s Vivid is the transformation of the Argyle Cut, which will turn into a magical Pixar wonderland.
Visitors will be able to watch the huge sandstone tunnel come alive with displays of Pixar Animations’ most beloved characters.
In addition, the charming Cut Bar & Grill is joining in on the Pixar fun, changing up their menu to feature a Toy Story twist.
A limited edition cocktail called The Sheriff Woody Old Fashioned ($15) is being served, as well as a two-course set menu special and a Toy Story-inspired kids’ menu.
Where: 16 Argyle Street, The Rocks NSW
If you’re looking for an immersive experience to fully appreciate Vivid in its 360-degree entirety, you can’t really go past a Captain Cook Vivid Sydney Cruise.
Choose from a large range of cruising options, all set to take you on a panoramic light tour from Vivid’s harbourside front row. These include one-hour family-friendly Vivid Lights cruises that run throughout the evening ($25), and Dinner and Drinks cruises ($69–$99), which feature leisurely three-course set dinners and bar packages.
One thing is for certain however, no matter which cruise you pick, there’s no better way to witness the innovation. Full stop.