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There’ll be food markets and flashmobs, lie detector tests and talking chairs, not to mention incredible interactive light installations. Our area is again set to shine, dazzle and delight Vivid audiences this year…

You can feel the expectation and the electricity in the air in the lead up to Vivid Sydney. In 2017 it attracted a record 2.33 million attendees, making it Australia’s largest event and the world’s largest festival of light, music and cutting edge ideas. This year, Sydney will light up on May 25-June 16, and our local area is again a major participating precinct. Chatswood always offers a fantastic combination of food, family fun and interactive installations. This year’s theme ‘Lightscape’ has a huge emphasis on re-purposing, recycling and re-using. From festival favourites of the past to bold visions of the future, you can expect an eclectic and awe-inspiring evening with more than a few surprises – and it’s all for free!

A great way to begin your Vivid Chatswood journey is at Chatswood Interchange where local foodie hub, The District, has many family friendly dining options. Choose from noodles and wontons at 1Ton, authentic Thai at Chum Tang, or you can turn up the heat at China Chilli. There’s also Chinese newcomer Memory Tongue, Akira Sushi, dim sum at Tim Ho Wan, Japanese Soul Food at Ippudo and New Age Italian food at Stretch. And don’t forget Passion Tree for dessert!

It’s here you’ll also find the first mesmerising installation, Sky Portal, which is described as an interactive video experience that will transport you to an alternate reality. “Walk under the giant screen that hangs 10 metres overhead, and see yourself mirrored above, transported to another time and place. Take your time and sit on a bean bag on the expansive green screen, right in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Look up and see yourself mirrored above – this immersive installation literally drops you in the ocean where you can swim amongst the creatures of the Great Barrier Reef! Then the sky’s the limit on ‘Magic Carpet’ where visitors can ride their own magic carpet and become part of an interactive image on the bridge next to The District. “ Lie, dance or sit on the magical mat and become immersed in another world which you control simply by moving. Bounce with bubbles, swim with fish, frolic with flowers and scatter stars in this highly responsive projection game, suitable for all ages and abilities. There are hundreds of scenes to be transported to and things to do – you can have a game of catch, play the piano and even ride a rocket.”


One of the most anticipated highlights of the festival this year is the Light Market in Chatswood Mall. Built by local volunteers entirely from recycled materials, and inspired by the architecture of shanty towns, the market stalls will be entwined with lights, and will host over 20 of Sydney’s favourite food stalls, including Zahara Grill (Middle Eastern), Sofrita Paella (Spanish), That Aranicini Guy (Italian), Fritz’s Wieners (German), Mary’s Burgers, Black Star Pastry, Agape Organic, Pimp My Chimney (ice cream in pastry), Cow and Moon (award-winning gelato), My Belgian Waffles and more.


If you’d like a drink with your Light Market dishes, you can then head to ‘Liquid Lies’, which sounds amazing for the adventurous Vivid Chatswood visitors. “Managed by a crazy professor, take a spot at the lab desk in the hope of a delicious drink. When hooked up to a lie detector, you will be asked three easy questions. Upon answering, the lie detector will determine if it’s truth or a lie and deliver a flavoured drink accordingly. Will you end up with a sweet treat or sour sludge?” Another not-to-be-missed installation is ‘I Have Feelings Too’ where you can have a chat to chair! “Benches throughout Chatswood Mall will come to life – literally. When sat on, a sensor will activate and the benches will tell you how they feel. Take a seat and a moment to listen to its feelings!’”


Children will cheer the return of last year’s popular wild percussionist the Octopoda, a mechanical octopus that flashes and animates to the beat of percussion controlled by crowds. It’s the imaginative brainchild of artists Simone Chua and Renzo B. Larriviere who are the founders of interactive lighting and design studio Amigo & Amigo. “We are thrilled to see the Octopoda return for another Vivid Sydney,” Simone said. “It is somewhat unbelievable to think how far we have come in only six years, from our initial interests in light design after university, to showcasing some of our best work at the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas.” The dynamic duo will also be unveiling a spectacular new installation – Crank Zappa Jellyfish, which was made from 1000 plastic bags, straws, and 800 plastic bottles that were salvaged from Scotts Creek in the Willoughby City Council area. “Together with Plasticwise, we’ve created Crank Zappa to not only engage the public, but to create an accessible, positive and exciting platform for people to learn more about the effects of plastic pollution on our environment,” Simone said.

The centrepiece of Vivid Chatswood is undoubtedly the projection on the big screen of The Concourse. This year, production manager and lighting designer, Mark Pennington, is the creative mind behind ‘Future Scape’, a large-scale, 360º projection installation featuring NASA imagery of deep space, set across the sails of The Concourse performing arts centre. “This spectacular projection will immerse audiences within a visual journey through space, starting at the big bang and continuing on through the solar system onto distant galaxies with nebulas and black holes.” Mark was inspired by the NASA Voyager 1 journey, which was launched in 1977 with the mission to explore deep space. It is currently the furthest man-made object from Earth at 21 billion kilometres from the sun and is still sending back data. Future Scape features real footage from Voyager 1. “I found this journey and feat quite extraordinary and wanted to create a work that has the same sense of exploration and achievement,” says Mark. “The immersive nature of Future Scape will make audiences feel like they are really part of that journey through deep space.” The grand projection will cover the walls of the Concourse, the grand stairs, reflection pool and grass area of the Concourse.

Our local area is also a mecca for Vivid events this year – you can visit rhythm group Junkyard Beats each evening in Chatswood Mall and play musical instruments made from ordinary household items and recycled materials. However, on the final night (June 16) the dance group themselves will deliver a high-energy spectacular flash mob! Meanwhile, Tech Shift Exponential is part of the Vivid Sydney Ideas Festival and will feature a stellar line-up of inspirational speakers presenting their sustainability ideas for a better future. The event will be followed by drinks from 4- 5.30pm and the option to attend the Better Business Awards from 5.30 – 7.30pm. You can purchase tickets here. https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/techshift-exponential-and-better-business-awards-2018-tickets-44966566210


Vivid Chatswood is on from May 25- June 16, 5.30pm-10.30pm. It is brought to you by Willoughby City Council, and supported by Precinct Contributors Chatswood InterchangeChatswood Chase Sydney and Westfield Chatswood.

For more on Vivid Chatswood see: http://www.visitchatswood.com.au/vivid-2018/