Vivid Sydney makes its return from May 26 to June 17, 2023, celebrating the best of contemporary art and culture in the harbour city. This year, the focus goes far beyond the already famous light program to include top-tier chefs, hidden underground experiences, tributes to music legends and celebrations of the night sky. Here are a few of our picks to add to your hit list for this year’s Vivid Sydney.

Dark Spectrum
For the first time ever, you can descend below Wynyard Station and wind through abandoned railway tunnels transformed into kaleidoscopic displays of light and sound. Several years in the making, Dark Spectrum marks the first time the tunnels have been open to the public, a legacy of a long-abandoned rail line. The labyrinth will feature eight mood-evoking rooms saturated in light and sound, designed to mimic the sensory overload of underground dance floors. This is a timed and ticketed event. Secure tickets.

Lightscape

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Coming to Sydney for the very first time after wowing audiences across the US, UK and Melbourne, Lightscape is another immersive light experience you don’t want to miss at this year’s Vivid Sydney. Expect the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney to be blanketed in a technicolour display of thousands of LEDs. This 2.1-kilometre multi-sensory journey features illuminated sculptures, soundscapes, glowing tunnels and brightly lit tree canopies. Secure your spot and buy tickets.

Vivid Residence and Vivid Chef Series
This year, Vivid Sydney is broadening its spectrum of experiences to include a brand-new pillar – Vivid Food. Set against the backdrop of the free 8.5-kilometre Light Walk, Vivid Residence will see world-renowned chef Daniel Humm of three Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, Manhattan, take over the two-hatted Aria for two weeks. Working alongside Matt Moran’s Aria team, Humm will present a bespoke menu inspired by NSW produce.

Meanwhile the Vivid Chef Series will see some of the world’s most exciting chefs joining forces with beloved Sydney restaurants including Kiln, Fred’s, Bar Morris and Yellow, to create exclusive, never-before-tasted menus.

Visiting chefs include award-winning LA chef Jeremy Fox, chef and owner of London’s Brunswick House, Jackson Boxer, two Michelin-starred chef Rishi Naleendra from Singapore, and Cape Town's Mmabatho Molefe, judged one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ 50 Next Hospitality Pioneers in 2022.

Vivid House
Four 360-degree artworks feature at the new Vivid House, this year located at Barangaroo’s the Cutaway. The pieces on display include Ama, a psychedelic exploration of Sydney’s caves and coves shot on an infrared camera; Australian Oceans, a four-wall film of photographer Craig Parry’s ocean journeys among rare and beautiful sea creatures; Infinity, which immerses viewers in hyper-real natural landscapes; and Invincible Corals, visual artist and photographer Henry Hu’s mesmerising tribute to our underwater ecosystems. This year, the Cutaway is also leaning into the new food focus with Vivid Fire Kitchen, set to feature 15 local and internationally-acclaimed pitmasters, alongside a delicious line-up of street food, trailblazing restaurant pop-ups, and fire-inspired cocktails. Vivid House and Vivid Fire Kitchen are both free to enter.

Global Storytellers
The Vivid Ideas program in 2023 is set to highlight some of the world’s most thought-provoking speakers headlined in the Global Storytellers series. Fans of HBO’s The White Lotus will get the chance to see series creator Mike White and resurgent star Jennifer Coolidge chat about their careers and Hollywood lives (and, hopefully, plenty of background on Tanya McQuoid) in a talk moderated by Benjamin Law. Elsewhere, see Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit author Jeanette Winterson in conversation with ABC Radio’s Richard Fidler, talking about everything from her early life to religion and sexuality.

A Bend in the River: A Tribute to Archie Roach AC
With Archie Roach AC’s passing last year, Australia lost one of its most powerful storytellers and uniquely talented songwriters. This concert at Sydney Town Hall will honour Roach’s memory and influential contribution to Australian music, with performances from friends and industry legends like Paul Kelly, Emma Donovan and Dan Sultan.

Written in the Stars
Vivid Sydney is aiming to break records in 2023 with the Southern Hemisphere’s largest ever drone show, Written in the Stars. More than 1000 drones will ascend over Circular Quay in an enormous display that tells stories of the natural world above us. Honouring the ages-old habit of looking towards the stars for guidance and inspiration, Written in the Stars promises to be worth finding a spot early for. Viewers can also download the Cinewav app for a deeper experience and immersive HD audio.

Triple J Celebrates 15 Years of Unearthed High
Triple J's Unearthed High competition has uncovered its fair share of precocious talent in its 15-year history, lifting high school students out of the classroom and onto the national stage. This event will bring winners and finalists together for a free concert featuring performances from Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, JACOTÉNE, LASTLINGS and Arno Faraji.

With 60 pieces of artwork across the Vivid Light program, approximately 70 Vivid Music events, 40 Vivid Ideas talks, and an entirely new Vivid Food pillar bringing world-class talent to venues across the city, there’s so much more to explore. See the full program and plan your visit at Vivid Sydney 2023.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Vivid Sydney.