Sydney: Luna Park Takes A Shine To Vivid

Luna Park, the iconic fun fair alongside the Sydney Harbour Bridge, joins the Vivid light spectacular for the first time.

Bernard O’Riordan 

It has taken the best part of a decade, but Sydney’s iconic fun fair Luna Park is finally joining Vivid Sydney – the world’s biggest light and music festival – as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Luna Park will be one of several sites north of the harbour to feature more prominently at Vivid Sydney, with Taronga Zoo and Chatswood both planning bigger and better displays this winter.

The famed work of author May Gibbs, a famous resident of Neutral Bay whose home “Nutcote” is now a museum, will also be celebrated.

But it’s Luna Park, in the shadows of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, that will shine brightest of all, with its famous clown face and landmark Ferris Wheel to be lit up with thousands of LED lights.

More locations north of the harbour are taking part in Vivid.

A large-scale light projection called The Spirit of Fun will feature on the facade of the Coney Island fun house (main image) every night from 6pm -10pm, celebrating the history of the site which first opened on October 4, 1935.

Luna Park Sydney (there’s also one in Melbourne with the same iconic clown face and tower entrance) was based on the concept of the first Luna Park at Coney Island in New York.


While most Sydneysiders visit for the nostalgic rides of their youth – like the Rotor, the dodgem cars and the Wild Mouse – the park’s inclusion in Vivid Sydney now makes Luna Park and the Lower North Shore a destination in its own right.

Vivid Sydney runs for 23 nights from Friday May 25 to Saturday June 16, transforming Australia’s biggest city and its landmark buildings and parks into a winter wonderland of light and sound.

A record 2.33 million people attended Vivid Sydney in 2017, pumping more than $143 million into the New South Wales economy. A whopping 65,491 international travel packages were sold (up 48.3 per cent on 2016) with 23,009 visitors coming from China.

Destination NSW, the State Government’s tourism and major events arm that owns and operates Vivid, is hoping the festival breaks more records in its 10th year.

As we wrote in our Vivid blog last year, most of the action traditionally takes place around Circular Quay and the Opera House, as well as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Darling Harbour and Barangaroo.

But with more locations north of the harbour taking a shine to Vivid, the light spectacular is becoming a truly city-wide event.

Taronga Zoo, at Mosman on the lower north shore, will ramp up its Lights for the Wild display with a whole new family of endearing species to admire.

Screenshot at Apr 22 11-18-31
Use hashtag #VividTaronga

Visitors will also discover some stunning new animal light sculptures and can also learn how Taronga is working to save 10 species from extinction over the next decade.

Further north at Chatswood, a pop-up sensory experience known as Light Market will take centre around Victoria Ave and Chatswood Mall.

Vivid Chatswood
Artist’s impression. Source: Willoughby Council

Inspired by Brazil’s shanty towns, or favelas, the food and light market will be built using recycled materials, including donated lamps and bags, that are arranged into stalls.

Author May Gibbs’ iconic bush babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie will leap from the storybook pages to the facade of Customs House at Circular Quay each night as they celebrate 100 years.

Screenshot at Apr 22 11-18-07
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie

Visitors can learn more about these loveable characters and watch their stories unfold each night as they try to evade the big, bad Banksia Men. Popular Australian actor Noni Hazlehurst will narrate an animated display at Customs House.

An unusual first for Vivid this year is the Heaps Gay Qweens Ball, which is basically a huge fancy dress ball being held at the Sydney Town Hall on June 9, coinciding with the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in Australia.

Heaps Gay Qweens Ball

There’ll be burlesque dancers, a leather show, drag qweens, drag kings, bio qweens and music from dance duo Electric Fields as well as locals Handsome and Imbi The Girl.

The Qween’s Ball is described by organisers as a “grander, fancier and more luxurious” extension of the Masqueerade party thrown for last year’s Sydney Fringe Festival.

Getting to Luna Park Sydney

Luna Park is adjacent to the Sydney Harbour Bridge at Milsons Point. Take a ferry from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour to Milsons Point Wharf. You can also take a train or bus to Milsons Point station and from there it’s a five minute stroll down the hill.

Click below to read an earlier blog on Vivid Sydney:

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