Creative Activities Around the Vivid Festival

Creative Activities Around the Vivid Festival

By Julia Carr-Catzel

When the sun sets in Sydney during the winter, the city transforms into a hub of creativity. From 25th May to 16th June 2018, the Vivid Festival will attract audiences from all over Australia in an annual celebration of light, music and ideas.


Last year, the city saw a whopping 2.3 million bright-eyed attendees roaming the colourful nighttime playground. For its 10th anniversary, attendees will be transported into an underwater world of shimmering corals, bioluminescent jellyfish at Sydney’s Darling Harbour. Wander the Royal Botanic Gardens forest, rippling and pulsing with more than 40,000 individually-controlled RGB pixels. Converse with a giant luminescent puppet, performing fire and rain rituals in celebration of Barangaroo’s Indigenous history. Contemplate the meaning of life in a 360-degree light projection of the observable universe in the North Shore.


But the creative pulse of Australia’s largest city does not always reveal itself in the form of giant puppets or luminescent jellyfish under the magnetism of the night sky. In the larger Sydney arena, pockets of creative expression and learning can be found in rain or shine.



Circular Quay/The Rocks


Night Photography

The parks, bays, cafes and museums observable to the travelers’ inquisitive eye, demand to be documented. Memories of a trip past, though poignant, fall back on their ephemeral qualities. Unless you possess master storytelling skills, wielding memory to recount a trip abroad to relatives, most often results in frustration on the traveler’s behalf, who cannot possibly do justice to the magical places seen.


Fortunately enough, this can be resolved with the aid of a photograph – an immediate and tangible clarification of a sight seen with layers of emotion felt at the time. It is no surprise then, that most travelers wish to improve their photography skills – and what better place to harness the power of photography in an environment oozing creativity?


If the thought of wandering through thousands of virtual toy balls or one thousand cranes excites you, then paying a visit to Vivid on The Rocks may just provide the ultimate creative space to exercise your camera skills. 


Director of Alfonso’s Photo Tours, Alfonso Calero, started his business back in 2008 with the aim of teaching locals and tourists travel photography. His Night Photography Short Course focuses on composition and shooting skills, with an emphasis on unconventional thinking as a key tool in the creative process. Equip yourself with a camera of choice and follow the professional photographer down Sydney’s historic laneways in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


In an entirely customizable class, request tips from Alfonso on travel photography genres, styles and composition. Learn how to control ISO, shutter speed and aperture expertly to produce low-light shots. Become well acquainted with Sydney’s architecture and landscapes in its most creative and abstract time of year. Capture the multi-coloured canvas of the Opera House for the Lighting of the Sails exhibit.


Compliment your tales with timeless photographs of a city at its prime. Collect images that will evoke wander and inspire upon reflection for years to come.


Central Business District

Whilst getting lost in electric forests or interacting with a six-metre high puppet promises all the creative stimulation in the world. There is no shortage of Sydney’s creative community during its day-lit hours. Start the creative journey early and head towards Sydney’s Central Business District for a range of workshops, including terrarium, pottery, flower arranging or cooking. 


Succulent Terrarium-Making

Located in the inner-city suburb of Redfern, just three kilometres South of the CBD, the creative team from Merchant and Green host a range of classes from flower arranging to terrarium making. In a Terrarium Making class, work in an immersive and interactive environment under the expertise of senior florists and stylists. Construct a personalised wild landscape of fresh soil, river stones and petite succulents, embellish your vintage style glass jar with figurines, boulders and pebbles. Take home a low-maintenance, long-living plant to spruce up your home.


Macaron Making

In the neighboring suburb, Surry Hills, lies Sydney’s leading macaron makers: MakMak Macarons. Surpassing competitors such as Laduree and Zumbo, the company is known for their unique blending of texture and flavour. In a Macaron Making class, under the expertise of professional chefs, wield chocolate, slice fresh fruit and combine native Australian ingredients replicate the premium, handmade macarons delighting customers since 2010. Experiment with Maldon Sea Salt, Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon myrtle and strawberry gum. Walk away with a complimentary gift bag with ingredients to whip up your own batch at home.


Ikebana Flower Arrangement

Nestled in the eccentric suburb of Glebe, rest the tranquil confines of Sydney’s most renowned floristry boutique. Familiarise yourself with seasonal flowers in an Ikebana Flower Arranging workshop. Create stunning arrangements with Setsuko Yanagisawa, boasting no less than thirteen years of experience in floristry, specializing in the Ikebana technique. Fasten and secure stems whilst learning about the history of Ikebana. Combine textures, patterns and elements to create sophisticated and elegant arrangements to take home. Visit the Yuga café next door to regain your energy for a night out. 




There is certainly no shortage of artistic talent, light projections and lasers in Sydney’s quieter suburbs during the Vivid Festival. Across the Harbour Bridge, the understated landscapes of the North Shore will embody futuristic artworks. By night, admire the mysteries of existence in a 360 degree light display projecting the stars and planets of the observable universe.


Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

In the heart of Chatswood, rejuvenate and improve your focus in a Shodo Japanese Calligraphy workshop. Learn how to make different types of sumi ink under the guidance of Ren, an artist recognised internationally. Learn Japanese characters and wield your calligraphy brush or 'fude' against a special type of Japanese paper called ‘hanshi’. Express emotion through brush stroke pressure, rhythm and tone. 


Following the creative class, meander the streets of Chatswood in a pop-up street market filled with recycled materials, lasers and scaffolding. Contemplate the meaning of the universe under the star-studded light display at the Concourse.



The Vivid Festival encourages visitors to engage in a hub of artistic expression and conversation of big ideas. By nightfall, the romantic harbour is specked with cruise ships and vessels contoured by a spectrum of saturated colour, and the magic of the city simply continues in different forms, with the rising of the sun.

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