Enjoy Vivid from the best spot in the house: high atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Sydney’s winter light show Vivid Sydney has attracted millions of visitors over the past decade, but few would have seen it quite like this: 134 metres (440 feet) above ground level on the crest of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
On Friday, when the sun goes down and the light show begins, visitors in flashing neon safety vests will climb the 1,002 steps to the top of the world’s largest steel arch bridge for a bird’s eye view of Vivid.
Over 23 nights until June 15, climbers in groups of 14 will traverse the catwalks and ladders to take in stunning night-time views of the Harbour, the Opera House and the city skyline.
Visitors can also dance the night away on a 70’s-style dance floor as part of “Boogie on the Bridge”. The only downside is that they’ll have to do it sober because alcohol is not permitted up there.
In fact, every climber must agree to be breathe-tested, as well as sign medical forms that say they are in good health, before taking part in Vivid Climb.
The 3.5-hour experience doesn’t come cheap though. Scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge, affectionately known as ‘the coathanger’, will cost $268 for an adult and $188 for children aged 8 to 15.
Even though smartphones and cameras are banned way up there for safety reasons, fear not: every climber gets a free group photo and certificate of their achievement.
Since people began scaling the iconic landmark in 1998, four million climbers from more than 140 countries have paid up to $400 a head to reach the summit of Sydney Harbour Bridge.
So it’s hardly surprising that BridgeClimb has been voted the number one travel experience in Australia by Trip Advisor, and ranked as the world’s fourth most-popular experience.
The NSW state government last year awarded the contract for BridgeClimb to adventure operator Hammons for the next 20 years. Hammons also runs Scenic World in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
In sheer visitor numbers, Vivid Sydney is the biggest festival in the nation. In fact, some say it’s the biggest event of its kind anywhere in the world.
And it’s proving to be gold for tourism operators in the state of NSW. Last year alone, 2.25 million visitors injected $173 million into Sydney’s economy while another $13 million was spent by Vivid visitors in other parts of the state.
A record 185,887 travel packages were sold in 2018, up 37 per cent on the previous year. Of those, about 73,000 were international (up 12 per cent) and around 113,000 were domestic (up 60 per cent).
The majority of overseas visitors came from China, where more than 25,500 (mainland and Hong Kong) packages were sold.
About 7,000 travel packages were sold in Indonesia and Malaysia respectively, with another 12,000 packages sold in the United States and Singapore.
Vivid 2019: What to Expect
This year more than 82 different projections and installations will illuminate the harbour foreshore, from the Royal Botanic Gardens to Darling Harbour and right through the centre of the city.
Dancing fireflies, a peacock, underwater wildlife and a menagerie of three-dimensional characters will cast a technicoloured glow on landmark buildings and iconic locations at Circular Quay, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Taronga Zoo and Luna Park.
The Opera House sails will light up with Austral Flora Ballet, a swirl of bright Australian flora and human movement created by Chinese American artist-filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang.
At the Argyle Cut in The Rocks, Pixar films – the animation company behind massive hits that include the Toy Story movies, Up and Finding Nemo – will trace the history of 3-D animation with its Pixar installation.
Visitors will be able wander through a Firefly Field at the Royal Botanic Gardens, while there’ll be colourful illuminations at Taronga Zoo, Chatswood, Barangaroo and Luna Park.
Special guests this year will include the mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth, who will be sharing experiences on building connected communities.
For those looking to light up their tastebuds, Sydney Restaurant Group will hold Cruise Through Vivid, a progressive dinner starting at Aqua Dining at Milsons Point at 6.30 pm followed by a harbour cruise at 8.30 pm, and a final food stop at Ripples Chowder Bay.
The Sofitel Darling Harbour will also have a pop-up bar 35 storeys high at its panoramic Club Millesime, usually reserved for the hotel’s VIPs.
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