The best things to see, hear and eat at Vivid Sydney

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Now in its thirteenth year, Vivid Sydney returns this month with a blockbuster program of events slated to run from May 26 until June 17.

Encompassing Light, Music, Ideas and – for the first time – Food, this year’s program takes its artistic cues from a guiding creative direction in "Vivid Sydney, Naturally" - a celebration of the natural world through the lenses of creativity, technology and innovation. 
Herewith, Semi Permanent shares a selection of must-see experiences on offer throughout Vivid Sydney.
Dark Spectrum
Dark Spectrum
The abandoned railway tunnels beneath Wynyard open to the public for the first time in Dark Spectrum: an electric commute to The Rocks like no other, navigated through eight subterranean rooms that seek to engage the senses through immersive, kaleidoscopic lighting and interactive sound design. Dark Spectrum will tour the world following its premiere at Vivid Sydney and promises to offer a perspective on the city unlike any seen before.
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Set alongside the immersive splendour of Vivid House, Barangaroo’s vast the Cutaway will become host to the Vivid Fire Kitchen for the duration of the festival: a stellar lineup of Sydney’s hottest dining and street food concepts, including acclaimed local and international pitmasters and producers who’ll keep the fire burning over three weeks of flame-fuelled drinking and dining. Leading the charge of this singular housewarming are some of the most influential names in open-flame cooking from here and abroad, including Lennox Hastie of three-hatted Firedoor, Dave Pynt from Michelin-starred Burnt Ends in Singapore and Austin-based pitmaster Jess Pryles.
Jeanette Winterson
The acclaimed British writer Jeanette Winterson turns her singular lens to questions of humanity, love and intelligence in her latest collection of non-fiction essays, 12 Bytes: How Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way We Live and Love. Winterson traces her longstanding interests in AI, transhumanism and gender from the industrial revolution to the present moment to chart a course for the future that’s as exciting and visionary as her profound and wide-ranging body of work.
Winterson will deliver a typically impassioned talk, followed by a moderated interview with broadcast journalist Richard Fidler, to reflect on questions of nature and nurture versus narrative, biological and technological identity, human and mechanical sexuality and, of course, religion.
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Ngemba Weilwan chef and founder of Indigiearth, Sharon Winsor, leads diners through a five-course dining experience celebrating First Nations food, entertainment, music and storytelling in The Warakirri Dining Experience, presented by Carriageworks. Using ingredients sourced on Gadigal land and paired with local wines, Winsor’s menu will fuse her contemporary craft with deep knowledge of traditional methods and culture, all of which is complemented by after-hours access to The National.
Propelled by the career-high momentum and critical acclaim surrounding her full-length debut album, With A Hammer, Korean-American producer and performer Yaeji will make a triumphant return to the Sydney Opera House as part of Vivid LIVE. Like the namesake instrument she wields on her album art, With A Hammer was forged in a maelstrom of personal and cultural upheaval, rage and repression; the resulting music, however, is a declaration of collective liberation and solidarity felt most profoundly in union on the dance floor.
New Tech
Three entrepreneurs shaping Australia’s clean tech landscape will assemble for a panel discussion about creating a truly sustainable future, one alternative material at a time. Hear from Bardee’s Phoebe Gardner, who produces organic fertiliser and protein for pet food by enlisting millions of black soldier flies; ULUU’s Dr Julia Reisser, who creates a world-first carbon negative and home compostable polymer; and Vow’s George Peppou, who ‘grows meat’ in a lab in this forum moderated by environmentalist, Claire O’Rourke.
Vivid Sydney Dinner
Two of Sydney’s powerhouse chefs, Danielle Alvarez and Merivale Executive Chef Ben Greeno, are at the helm of one The Vivid Sydney Dinner, billed as a feast for the senses comprising each of the festival’s key components - light, music, ideas and cuisine. Taking over the ivy Ballroom, this year’s dinner is themed around the concept of ‘rewilding’ and will feature performances from host Eddie Perfect, Montaigne, African fusion artist Julian Belbachir, Christine Anu, plus Australia’s ‘First Lady of House’ Kate Monroe.
Immersion in Architecture. Photo credit Andrew Worssam
The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building – Frank Gehry’s only building in Australia on the UTS campus – is the unlikely site of this two-hour multi-sensory mindfulness workshop, led by facilitators Steve Pozel and Vanessa Lansdown. Drawing on various meditation frameworks, you’ll be challenged to find harmony between ancient practices and contemporary architecture, all with a view to combatting the ‘sensory blindness’ that dulls our engagement with the city around us every day.
House of Mince presents Desire Marea
Amandawe-based, multi-disciplinary artist Desire Marea makes their return to Australia once again in collaboration with queer party collective, House of Mince. The South African artist recently released their sophomore album, On the Romance of Being, following training as a traditional Nguni spiritual healer. Boasting soaring operative vocals and orchestration that skews toward the explosive, the sacred and profane exist in perfect harmony in Marea’s ongoing pursuit of the divine.
Cornelius – the stage name of Tokyo-born artist and producer Keigo Oyamada – is one of Japan’s most acclaimed musical exports, known for his highly-involved live shows comprised of meticulously staged projections, lights and music. Closing out Vivid Music’s Tumbalong Nights program and supported by Brisbane psych-rock five piece Nice Biscuit, Cornelius and co promise to deliver an explosive end to three weeks of free contemporary music programming in Tumbalong Park.
Credit: All images supplied courtesy of Destination NSW.