The world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas is back for a 10th year with a line-up that includes unexpected musicians, big-name artists and some new precincts, including Kings Cross and Darlinghurst.

For 23 days and nights, from May 25 to June 16, Sydney will again become a canvas for illuminated projections and large-scale installations, as well as a hub for concerts, talks and debates when the world's leading creative minds visit.

Vivid's format in 2018 is the same as in previous years: Vivid Light is happening throughout the city and includes free light installations and grand-scale projections on the city’s facades; Vivid Music is the cutting-edge contemporary music program happening in Sydney’s music venues, bars and at the Opera House (the program there is called Vivid Live); and Vivid Ideas is a forum that brings together business and creative leaders for professional development, talks and conversations.

Customs House returns after a one-year hiatus and will have a May Gibbs-themed show projected on its facade to coincide with 100 years of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. The Light Walk will this year be extended to a new precinct at Luna Park Sydney. And David Attenborough's Blue Planet II documentary will be screened on the roof of the Maritime Museum.

Kings Cross will be part of Vivid this year and Darlinghurst Road will be transformed with a display of light and life. The famous Coca-Cola sign will come alive again with a creative colour show and World Bar will host a multi-storey house party.

Here's more of what to expect when Sydney is transformed into an illuminated playground.

Vivid Light
Last year the Opera House sails were the backdrop for a spectacular light show by Sydney artist Ash Bollard, which was set to soundscapes from Brazilian composer Amon Tobin. This year the art and sound show comes from award-winning Australian artist Jonathan Zawada. His Metamathemagical will be a bold and dynamic display of morphing digital sculptures inspired by recognisable Australian motifs from across science, nature and culture.

Virtual Vibration at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) is a collaborative creative work produced in conjunction with MCA Collection artist Jonny Niesche and composer Mark Pritchard. And interactive lighting display Skylark will stretch from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the skyscrapers of Circular Quay to the reaches of Sydney Harbour.

Taronga Zoo gets in involved again with animal light sculptures as part of its Lights for the Wild, which hopes to educate people on the 10 species it is trying to save from extinction over the next 10 years.

Vivid Music
US rapper and actor Ice Cube will perform four shows as Vivid's the headline act. O'Shea Jackson Senior, as he’s known to his parents, was one of the primary members of N.W.A. before going on to a successful solo career. His music often had a socio-political message, as did his early acting career. He is probably best known for his role in Boyz n the Hood (1992).

Dreams – a collaborative project between Empire of the Sun/Sleepy Jackson's Luke Steele and Silverchair-frontman-turned-solo-star Daniel Johns – are also on the bill. And American singer-songwriter Cat Power and American dream-pop icons Mazzy Star are joining the already-announced Solange Knowles, who will perform a series of special in-the-round performances.

This is the fifth year Carriageworks has presented a Vivid program and its headline act for 2018 is St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, performing on Sunday June 17. She’s released five albums, including last year’s Masseduction, which was named the number-one album for 2017 by the Guardian and the New York Times.

Young Hearts Run Free is a trashy masquerade-party-rock-show featuring guest artists who will bring Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (Vol 1) soundtrack to life. It’s been more than 20 years since Luhrmann turned the Shakespeare story into a movie. The show will be at the Enmore Theatre.

Neil Finn will perform his latest album Out of Silence with a full band and orchestra. And there will be a live reimagining of Ambient 1: Music for Airports by the Alaska Orchestra. It was the first album to be explicitly produced as ambient music, and is the perfect soundtrack to encourage your mind to wonder as you look out the floor-to-ceiling windows of the Opera House's Utzon Room.

Also, Purple Sneakers will throw a 12th birthday party at The Landsdowne, doing what it does best, and support new emerging club music.

From industry game-changers to world-leading expert panel discussions, Vivid’s ideas program is one-of-a-kind. This year (in a Vivid exclusive) filmmaker, marine explorer and conservationist James Cameron will explore his passion for science and technology and discuss how it has influenced his work. He will appear in conversation with journalist Adam Spencer. While in Sydney he'll open the Challenging the Deep exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Dare Jennings, the founder of Mambo, Phantom Records and Deus Ex Machina, will have a chat with James Valentine on creating brands that have age and lifestyle cross-over.

Design forum Semi Permanent will be part of Vivid this year, held over three days from May 24 to May 26 at Carriageworks. Speakers include the Nike sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield, the VP of design at Airbnb Alex Schleifer, and Scott Dadich, founder and co-CEO of Godfrey Dadich Partners (he is also the former Wired editor-in-chief and executive producer of Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design).

The Clipped Music Video Festival happens also at Carriageworks on June 2 with screenings, talks and exhibitions, and the immersive music and visual experience Curve Ball returns for the third time, on Saturday 16 June. Bands include Haiku Hands, Crooked Colours and Vera Blue.

Last year a record 2.33 million people attended the festival, with national and international visitors up by 35 per cent. Judging by the program, Vivid's 10th birthday celebration will be its biggest yet.

Vivid 2018 is on in various locations across Sydney from May 25 to June 16.