Prepare to be dazzled as Vivid Sydney illuminates Chatswood again this year with steam-punk inspired light shows and family friendly installations.

Vivid Sydney is a festival still in its infancy, but each year reveals new awe-inspiring displays that light up more and more of our beautiful city. It began as a hodgepodge of minor events in 2009 to fill the Sydney winter calendar, and hopefully entice tourists whose numbers were dwindling after the 2000 Olympics. There were just 20 or so light exhibitions, but the highlight – the changing colours of the iconic Sydney Opera House – had people talking. Fast forward eight years, each more dazzling than the last, and Vivid Sydney has become the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. Last year it was attended by more than 2.3 million people, and it brings in millions of dollars to the NSW economy. Perhaps even more amazing though, is that this magical celebration of light remains absolutely free for people to attend.

We’re incredibly lucky to have one of the major Vivid precincts right on our doorstep. From Friday May 26 to June 17, for the third year in a row, Chatswood will be transformed. This year it’s to the theme of Future City, Smart City, with ultra cool “steam punk-inspired light shows” and futuristic installations which are again interactive.

“This year’s light design for Chatswood is again visually spectacular,” says Willoughby Mayor, Gail Giles-Gidney. “What makes Chatswood unique is that each year, the precinct is designed as a continuous walk to take you on a sensory journey from the Chatswood Interchange, through Chatswood Mall and past Westfield Chatswood, on to The Concourse and Chatswood Chase.”

A pumping steam engine is created with people power in ‘Gear Shift’.

As they exit Chatswood Interchange, visitors will instantly be transported into a three-dimensional light show with more than 9,000 LED light spheres glowing above in an installation called ‘Voxelscape’. Then there’s the interactive projection ‘Gear Shift’ where “a pumping, people-powered steam engine is created”. It’s a good time to mention that Vivid Chatswood is run on 100 per cent Green Power. Perched above Chatswood’s CBD, at the Albert Avenue car park, is Willoughby City Council’s solar farm, which incorporates 680 photovoltaic panels and saves more than 250 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year. More than 14 MWh of power has also been offset by Council for the event.

If visitors continue travelling through the glowing, glimmering canopy of light in Chatswood Mall, they’ll then find ‘Crossword’ – an installation sending a crossfire of hidden messages mid-air and onto revellers. Next, hanging above Hawker Lane, is ‘The Octopoda’, which invites attendees to play its eight tentacle drums. As they do, a unique display of colour and light explodes out of the drum, and when all eight drums are played at once the Octopoda springs to life.

‘Crossword’ sends a crossfire of hidden messages mid-air and onto participants.

Little Vivid fans are well catered to with a huge emphasis on family participation again this year. Organisers recommend attendance on Monday through to Wednesday when crowds are at their lowest. “We have developed a reputation for being a family-friendly precinct, with special daytime installations for our youngest festival goers and a light walk that is fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs,” says Mayor Gail.

‘Light Bounce’ at Chatswood Chase will offer a fun daytime experience where children will be immersed in a sparkling forest of refractive light. Meanwhile, Chatswood Library will host a free Lego Robotics Workshop for children aged 8 – 14 years, from 4pm – 5.30pm on Monday June 5 (you can book via: www.willoughby.nsw.gov.au). There’s also a Steam Punk Space Ship Lantern Making activity in The Concourse Art Space every evening from Monday May 29 to Sunday June 11, from 5.30pm – 8.30pm. Kids can create and colour their own lantern which will be added to a communal light installation. Lanterns can be collected and taken home from June 9-12.

At The Concourse sits the centrepiece of Vivid Chatswood, which can be enjoyed by the whole family. The story of ‘Future City, Smart City’ is laid out on the sails, and the images and sound transport viewers into a futuristic realm where people have taken to the air to create a sustainable community. Don’t miss peering into the nearby reflection pool to discover the submerged magic of ‘Steampunk Waterworld’, which pays homage to the likes of Jules Verne through light, sound and special effects.

Peer into the reflective pool to discover the submerged magic of ‘Steampunk Waterworld’.

Restaurants and eateries across Chatswood are also getting into the Vivid spirit by creating ‘steam punk’ and futuristic inspired burgers, loaded hot chocolates and specialty desserts. The Orchard Tavern, which is gaining a local reputation for creative weekly burger specials, has created a ‘Vivid Burger’, available for the duration of the festival for $22. The burger features crispy skin pork belly, crispy bacon, pulled pork, peri peri mayo, Swiss cheese, rocket, and slow roasted Roma tomatoes on a charcoal bun – it’s served with rosemary and sea salt chips and aioli. There are also Vivid inspired cocktails on the menu. For sweet tooths, The Choc Pot in The District at Chatswood Interchange is offering a ‘Steam Punk’d S’mores Mocha Ice Cream Sandwich’, which consists of a baked mocha mousse cake, vanilla bean ice cream, torched marshmallow, and chocolate nuts and bolts on a metal plate. To warm up on any of the cooler nights, head to Passion Tree dessert shop in Chatswood Interchange for loaded hot chocolates in four futuristic flavours – Peanut Butter Cuppa, White Rose, Campfire S’mores and Mint White Delight. Further on, the newly-opened Starbucks at The Concourse has a Chatswood-exclusive Belgian chocolate cake that can be taken away to enjoy while watching the projections just beyond its doors. And if viewing the light show while you dine is of interest, The Concourse’s many eateries offer alfresco dining with views of the main projection.


‘Futuristic’ food is on offer from local venues, including loaded hot chocolates, burgers and specialty desserts.

For the duration of the event it’s good for locals to keep in mind that traffic control and clearways will take place in the Chatswood CBD, and there will be road closures on the busiest nights of the festival. The bus stop at the Victoria Avenue entrance to Chatswood Chase Sydney will be temporarily relocated further east to the next bus stop on Victoria Avenue. The best places to park are Chatswood Chase, Westfield Chatswood, The Concourse and Albert Ave car parks. For more information on transport options, tours and road closures, visit vividsydney.com/transport or visitchatswood.com.au.


Vivid Sydney in Chatswood is on every evening from 5.30pm – 10.30pm, from May 26 to June 17. Light Bounce at Chatswood Chase will operate from 9.30am – 5.30pm daily and until 9pm on Thursdays. For further details see: https://www.vividsydney.com/precinct/chatswood

For the best of the rest of Vivid Sydney 2017 see: http://www.sydney.com/destinations/sydney/sydney-city/vivid-sydney/light