Sydney’s biggest, most radiant winter festival launched on May 23 with more than 30 light installations and projections along an eight-kilometre walk around Circular Quay, Barangaroo and the Botanic Gardens. It’s the festival’s 14th year and the star of the show is Julia Gutman’s Lighting of the Sails: Echo. The 2023 Archibald Prize winner created a modern iteration of Ovid’s myth of Narcissus, with a girl in a striped T-shirt peering at her reflection, thanks to a collaboration with creative tech team Pleasant Company.

Broadsheet photographer Yusuke Oba captured the spectacular lights on opening weekend – including artist Guan Wei’s whimsical work dancing across the Museum of Contemporary Art. Wei has drawn inspiration from deep space, Bondi Beach and the depths of the ocean. Like Gutman, this is the first time his work has been translated into a light projection.

Nearby, Reg Mombassa’s futuristic robots and one-eyed koalas lit up Customs House; a circle of life-sized silhouettes look like a children’s paper chain in Embrace; and a canopy of LED ropes by New Zealand artist Angus Muir beckon visitors to set off a pattern of dancing lights.

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Back for 2024, Dark Spectrum: A New Journey has transformed Wynyard Tunnels with eight different “rooms”, each with their own ambient mood – including green lasers, amber lanterns and blue vertical beams.

Vivid Fire Kitchen – this time at the Goods Line – welcomes visitors for its open-air celebration of fire-cooked food. Lennox Hastie, Christine Manfield and Californian chef Shalamar Lane are all on the line-up.

Plus, Tumbalong Park in Darling Harbour has a stage set up to host free live music. Mallrat performed on May 24, supported by Western Sydney artist tiffi. In June there’ll be gigs from Korean indie acts Sunwoojunga and Silica Gel, as well as First Nations hip-hop supergroup 3%.

Of course, the lights are just one part of Vivid Sydney. The umbrella theme is humanity, which ranges from talks with Amy Poehler and Mackenzie Arnold to degustations at Kyiv Social and a Tekno Train that rides over the Harbour Bridge. And that’s without diving into the music program at Sydney Opera House, Machine Hall and Carriageworks – including Jen Cloher, Devonté Hynes and Electric Fields.

Check out the full program at vividsydney.com.

Vivid Sydney runs from May 24 to June 15.