With all due respect to the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House has always been the uncontested star of Vivid. As far as canvases for the light displays and projections that define Vivid go, the bridge’s pylons just can’t compete with the Opera House sails.

Beyond being the home of Vivid Live when it starts on May 24, the Opera House is also one of the festival’s most exciting precincts for eating and drinking this year. Exciting pop-ups and one-offs will take over some of its most iconic spaces, and there will be a cracking line-up of food trucks in the forecourt. Here are our picks.

Bar Subterranean by the Midnight Special

Midnight Special, a bar in Newtown, is named for a classic blues song – the 1962 Harry Belafonte version was the first recording Bob Dylan ever participated in (he played harmonica). It’s warm, cozy and, like Dylan at the time, folksy. So when the Midnight Special team was tapped to open a pop-up bar at the Opera House – a decidedly more modern proposition – it chose to call it Bar Subterranean, after Dylan’s Zeitgeist-y 1965 single Subterranean Homesick Blues. You’ll find Bar Subterranean in the Concert Hall Northern Foyer, and entry is free. Come for Archie Rose-curated cocktails and tunes from Dylan’s electric oeuvre.

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A Culinary Canvas by Danielle Alvarez

Ever been to the Opera House’s Yallamundi Rooms? The event space takes up the north end of the building overlooking the harbour and regularly hosts intimate events. If you’ve never had the pleasure of going, start with a dinner by chef Danielle Alvarez. The acclaimed chef is hosting A Culinary Canvas for Vivid Food this year: two Friday night dinners in June pairing Alvarez’s cooking with matched wines from some of Australia’s top female winemakers. You’ll also get to enjoy a musical performance by singer Katie Noonan. Don’t miss out on this one.

Aurorae at Bennelong Bar

Sydney may have missed out on the aurora displays that swept over the country earlier this month, but Aurorae at Bennelong Bar, a snack and cocktail offering by executive chef Peter Gilmore, running almost every night as part of Vivid Food, is a worthy consolation. This is an excellent chance to enjoy a snack and a cocktail that won’t be available again at one of Australia’s most acclaimed and beautiful restaurants – accompanied by live music on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8pm.

Taste, See, Connect at House Canteen

Where Bennelong is the show-stopping fine diner, House Canteen is its more relaxed cousin. This vibey restaurant on the lower concourse, by the Solotel Group, is always a good time, but it’s upping the ante for Vivid with a series of culinary events titled Taste, See, Connect. You’ll be encouraged to play with your food (and draw on the tablecloths) as the canteen is lit up by artist Carla O’Brien’s Neon Nights light installation.

Midden by Mark Olive, and Vivid Dinner at the House

Midden by Mark Olive, the Sydney Opera House’s newest restaurant, might not be on your radar yet. That should change. This celebration of Indigenous cooking and native Australian ingredients is the perfect complement to the Opera House. Right beneath Julia Gutman’s colossal, textile-inspired Lighting of the Sails: Echo, this is the ideal spot for a snack and an Archie Rose cocktail like the Rosella Gimlet. And on selected Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights during the festival, book yourself in for Vivid Dinner at the House. These lavish sit-down affairs are held inside one of the Opera House’s most beautiful hidden spaces, and they’ll feature projections overhead and a First Nations-inspired three-course dinner by Midden, with paired drinks. Your ticket also gets you a special late-afternoon tour of the Opera House.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the Sydney Opera House.