Your ultimate food and drink guide to Vivid Sydney 2017

The always impressive Vivid Sydney will be casting a huge net of creativity over the city as of next week, presenting locals and visitors with yet again one of the most exciting programs in the entire country. Lights, music and ideas are the three pillars around which this program is curated, but there’s always so much more thanks to the local businesses which surround the various festival precincts. You’re going to need to fuel and re-fuel constantly if you want to get the most out of your Vivid experience, so keep this guide handy; we’ll be updating it as events around announced, and while we won’t be including every single Vivid-related activity, you can be sure we’ll keep you updated with what we feel are the best options all throughout the festival, from Friday 26th May to Saturday 17th June.

Fort Denison

Sydney’s exceptionally located island fortress, Fort Dension, has been a Vivid highlight for the past few years, and for 2017 they’ll no doubt be building upon that success. For “Dinner DeLights”, the restaurant will be tempting festival-goers in making the trek over to the harbour island with dining packages that include entrees, a main course and an expansive wine list. Everything from lamb short ribs and kingfish carpaccio to Hunter Valley pork belly and Humpty Doo barramundi will be offered, alongside one of the best vantage points you can ask for of course.

Tickets are $118pp and include a two-course meal, transport to and from the island, entry to the island’s National Parks and a guided mini-tour. Note that there are six water taxi options, available between 5:30pm and 7:15pm each evening from Man O’ War steps, Circular Quay (behind the Sydney Opera House).

26th May – 7th June | 02 9361 5208 |

Sydney Table

After a string of sold out nights last year Carriageworks and the forthcoming Vivid Sydney are once again planning to host their series of bespoke dining experiences. Taking place at The Clothing Store across the nights of 14-17 June, Sydney Table will be bringing in some of the state’s leading chefs and pairing their specially created menus with elements of contemporary music, art and design.

The lineup of chefs, which has been put together by Carriageworks Farmers Market Creative Director Mike McEnearney, including O Tama Carey of Lankan Filling Station (14th June), Clayton Wells of Automata (15th June), James Viles of award-winning regional restaurant Biota (16th June), and Ben Sears of the sorely missed Korean favourite Moon Park (17th June).

Each dinner will take place against a backdrop of the industrial heritage setting that defines The Clothing Store, pulling on the talents of various creatives to create an immersive night that includes wine and premium beverages from Scotchmans Hill, Asahi Super Dry, VOSS water and Archie Rose Distilling Co.

Tickets to each dinner will be set at $200 + bf. The dinners will kick off at 7pm on each night and will include canapes and an Archie Rose cocktail on arrival, and a three-course meal with matched drinks.

14th – 17th June |

Cooking with Fire Night Market

Following the announcement of their Sydney Table series, Vivid Sydney and Carriageworks have unveiled details for The Night Market, their large-scale, one-night-only collaboration which celebrates contemporary food and wine, to the theme of “Cooking with Fire”. As such, fire-loving chef Lennox Hastie (of Firedoor) has joined as the event’s guest curator.

The bright minds behind this event have managed to round up some of the industry’s finest chefs to huddle into Carriageworks on Friday 16th June and cook live over flames in what is promised to be a winter celebration of regional NSW produce and cultural food traditions, presented from 5pm to 10pm.

Hastie will be joined by 25 stallholders as well as double the number of restaurants compared to previous iterations of the Night Markets. These include Vic’s Meat, Three Blue Ducks, Billy Kwong, Cairo Takeaway, 4Fourteen, 1 Bent Street, Pepe Saya, Rising Sun Workshop, Nilgiri’s, Lankan Filling Station, Hartsyard, and more.

More specifically, some of the food planned for the night includes Argentinian grilled eats (Three Blue Ducks); grilled pork neck with charred sweet potato (4Fourteen); smoked potato curry with fire roasted chilli pol sambol (Lankan Filling Station); grilled octopus skewers (Firedoor), wood-fired pizzas (Happy as Larry); roasted wood fired school prawns with rosemary and lemon (No. 1 Bent Street); hot Egyptian-style falafels (Cario Takeaway); pork katsu and eggplant katsu burgers (Rising Sun Workshop); smoky grilled jerk chicken (Jammin Jerk); smoky goat empanadas (Tequila Mockingbird); and more. Desserts will also be available, including giant hot apple crumble from Dessertmakers, BBQ pineapple margarita gelato from Mr Goaty Gelato, and various gelato based desserts (including rocky road) by The Pines Kiama.

Drinks will also see a major focus on the night, which includes a special preview of Darren Roberton’s forthcoming North Bondi restaurant Rocker, hot cocktails from Archie Rose, mulled wine from Cake Wines, fire flavour kombucha from Ballsys Brewing, hot chai from T Totaler (who just opened a new store in The Galeries), and others drinks both hot and cold.

16th June |

Dancefloor in the Sky

Image: Destination NSW

A partnership between RedBalloon and Destination NSW has resulted in an actual illuminated dancefloor being installed on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Groups of 14 will be led up by one of BridgeClimb’s pros on a very special edition of the already popular activity. Headlamps will lead climbers to a multi-coloured flashing dancefloor, giving guests the chance to get in the groove while taking in what is arguably the best possible view you can get.

26th May – 7th June |

Milk N Sugar Dessert Festival

As the city prepares for another round of Vivid Sydney some last minute events taking place during the festival are starting to take shape. The latest: a three-day festival of over-the-top and incredibly indulgent desserts like giant marshmallow sandwiches, dessert burgers and deep-fried oreo bites. It’s set to be a dramatic explosion of all things milk and sugar (in fact, the event is called Milk N Sugar) hosted above the Vivid walk at Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay, kicking off the same day as Vivid on Friday 26th May and lasting until Sunday 28th May.

The city has no shortage of sugar-packed purveyors itching to be a part of the weekend, many of which have jumped head first onto the lineup for this boutique event, making it one of widest ranges of gleeful desserts the city has ever seen in one place. It’s free entry as well, so you’ll have plenty to indulge with.

“The Milk N’ Sugar event is the realisation of internet in real life – patrons can witness and touch what they normally view on social media”, said Event Director Yudi Loefti. Deep.

Confirmed to set up stalls and make this event one to remember are Sugar High Desserts, Kayter Co, Brooklyn Boys Bagels, Burger Butlers, Scoopolicious, Nutie, Hungary Bites, Khao Sun and Fluffy Crunch. They’ll be serving up everything from the aforementioned deep-fried oreo bites (from Kayter Co) and rainbow bagels (from Brooklyn Boys Bagels, to oversized Nutella s’mores (from Sugar High Desserts) and a Mediterranean-inspired dessert burger (from Burger Butlers). Whatever you do, don’t forget the kurtosh doughnut ice creams (basically an ice cream in a doughnut cone) from Hungary Bites.

26th – 28th May |

Porteño at Martin Place

Not only will one of Sydney’s most popular restaurants by setting up a temporary kitchen under Martin Place’s CTA tree, but they’ll also be cooking over a fire-pit with genuine Argentinian BBQ dishes on the menu and some of the state’s best cooking-by-fire chefs will be joining for a bunch of culinary collaborations throughout the festival. Wines and beverages will also be featured at the pop-up while guests can enjoy light installations such as “Lux Populi” by Stagekings and “Deep Forst” by Motti+Smith.

26th May – 7th June |

Grain Bar at Four Seasons

The perfectly positioned Four Seasons will definitely be getting involved with Vivid Sydney this year, seeing as almost everyone heading to the festival will at some point find themselves in front of the celebrated luxury hotel. Their attached Grain Bar will be glowing bright green throughout the festival, returning as Sydney’s only Dom Pérignon Luminous Champagne pop-up bar for a second year.

Each night of the festival, from 6pm, glowing green and various light projections will help coax festival-goers off of George Street and into an immersive pop-up that will feature Dom Pérignon by the glass for $60, and Dom Pérignon Luminous bottles paired with a complimentary dozen freshly-shucked oysters for $375. A bespoke menu will also be available, featuring lobster corn dogs with citrus aioli and duck fat fries, a trip of crispy truffle Gruyere “pleasure domes”, and Sydney Rock oysters with smoked soy bonito mignonette.

Yes, you did read that correctly: Lobster Corn Dogs with citrus aioli and duck fat fries.

Several Vivid inspired cocktails will also be available, including the violet-glowing Viva Violetta cocktail ($18) will be made with purple-coloured Ink Gin from NSW’s Northern Rivers, which gets its unique shade from an infusion of Butterfly Pea flower petals.

26th May – 17th June |

Vivid Ideas: Tasty Niche

If you want to do much more than just eat food, how about discussing it with some of the most creative minds in the local business? The Vivid Ideas program is full of all types of interesting topics this year, no less a special talk about the evolving world of creative food careers, from food photography and cake design to food art and social media. The likes of Nikki To, Clayton Wells and Katherine Sabbath will be speaking to various topics in a panel style discussion, chatting growth strategies, fears and failures.

11th June |

Soft Future Piano Bar

Though previous years have seen the Sydney Opera House turn one of their lesser known back areas into the Deep Purple Pool Hall, this year will be watching the Soft Future Piano Bar come to life, thanks to the fine folk behind Goodgod. The Concert Hall’s Northern Foyer will be the location for this, morphing into an energetic zero-waste pop-up natural wine bar where we expect nothing less than a creative and playful mash of drink and design from the ever reliable team of Jimmy Sing and Hana Shimada.

26th May – 7th June |

Music for Brunch

The inventive team behind Redfern’s Cake Wines Cellar Door have teamed with Ear to Ear to present a bottomless brunch session that also doubles as a bit of a musical experiment. They ask, “How does context change our reaction to the wine we drink? The food we taste? The music we listen to?” And with them matching all three, it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun helping them answer those questions while tucking into a breakfast grazing table of cheeses, meats, dips, breads, eggs and other brunch essentials. Don’t forget the chilled pinot noir or sparkling wines either.

27th May |

360 Bar & Dining

The impressive revolving restaurant will be offering a six course multi-sensory fine dining experience as they jump onto the Vivid scene. It’s set for one-night-only with a curious Alice in Wonderland theme, promising tactile sensations and auditory stimulation throughout the dining experience, which ranges from tea & biscuits done different and an “Ocean Emotions” course of sea urchins, razor clams, scallops and octopus, to a special “blindfold course” with three surprise snacks and a sleeping forest dessert.

3rd June |

Devon Cafe

While it’s going to be business as usual for Devon Cafe during Vivid Sydney there is one little detail that’s being added to the menu throughout the festival: Purple Haze. Devon’s popular ice cream sundaes will be given a little edge with this addition, a bright purple sundae made using taro soft serve, leche flan and taro crisps.

26th May – 17th June |

InterContinental Sydney

This Circular Quay destination is one of the best placed properties for Vivid Sydney, so of course they’ll be making the most of their multiple venues to offer festival-goers something special. Their high-up Supper club will be doing a trio of Vivid-inspired cocktails specially designed for the event and available every night between 8pm and 9:30pm. The bar will be open every night throughout Vivid although reservations are essential.

The hotel will also be hosting a pop-up laneway social throughout Vivid, bringing some dining experiences to the outdoors with a three-course menu that includes blow-torched salmon, sake-cured Pacific Reef cobia and Taj Ima wagyu rump, all of which can be paired with Bimbadgen wines and followed by a special signature dessert created especially for Vivid. All guests who dine will also be invited to Supper Club afterwards. That one is priced at $139pp (minimum 30 guests to book; it’s a group thing) and bookings are available from Monday to Thursdays (29th through 15th June)

Then there will be a progressive dining event on select dates, taking guests through 177 Dining, where there will be a four-course menu with Vivid-inspires dishes, following by a trip up to Supper Club for a Neon Highball cocktail, which is a mix of Japanese sake, honeydew melon liqueur, salted caramel syrup and cold-press pineapple juice. This experience is available on set dates including: 31st May, 1st, 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th June.

Various dates | |

Taronga Centre Dining

Taronga Zoo should always be on your schedule for Vivid Sydney. Last year they hosted one of the most spectacular lighting displays of the festival, and this years “Lights for the Wild” looks like it’ll be stepping in the same shoes. A sit-down dining experience in the property’s restaurant will give guests front row seats to the zoo’s trail of animal-inspired installations such as the big Port Jackson shark and the brand new floating stingray, as well as a special two-course menu. Dishes like rich sirloin steak, press pork belly, crispy tempura cod, and raspberry lemingtons have been included on a menu that’s designed to replicate some of the most vivid colours seen on the Toronga trail

26th May – 17th June |

Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour

Perfectly positioned just off the u-shaped Quay, this harbour-side hotel will be welcoming Vivid into both Q Dinig and their beloved Cuban bar, Hacienda. As far as Q Dining goes, there will be a Vivid inspired menu being offered throughout the festival, promising an array of colour as well as a special Vivid kids menu, both available each night from 5pm-7pm or 7:30pm-9:30pm. Then you’ve got Hacienda, where the bar will be serving up Vivid cocktails including Island de Ligero and Arco Iris for $20 each, paired up with Cuban dishes and of course that stunning view. The bar will be open from 12pm to late every day of the festival.

26th May – 17th June |

Novotel Sydney, Darling Harbour

Head along to Novotel’s award-winning The Ternary and you’ll find a Vivid menu by Exec. Chef Anthony Flowers, featuring teriyaki prawn skewers, roasted lamb rump, and the restaurant’s signature eton mess. Kids will receive unlimited soft drink or juice and a glow pack to keep those Vivid vibes high. The two course dinner is priced at $55 and the three-course $65, available every weekday of the festival from 6pm-9pm. Not colourful enough for you? They’ll also be serving up bright 100’s and 1000’s cocktails each night.

26th May – 17th June |

The Langham Sydney

Much has been said about The Langham’s otherworldly indoor pool, but they also host some excellent events year-round. Their offering for Vivid Sydney should continue that tradition nicely, with a special dining experience with artist Kerrie Hess planned for Wednesday 31st May. The one-day-only event will welcome guests into a culturally immersive dining experienced with the world renowned artist, bounding off a one-night residency where Hess will light up the dining space with one of her signature water-colour fashion illustrations.

A Vivid inspired cocktail will be served to guests on arrival, and throughout the multi-course feast, the space will change its ambient lighting to reflect each dish, moving from coral blue to pastel pink. In terms of food, the two-course menu will feature a seasonal entrée of smoked mackerel tartare, followed by a choice of steamed blue-eye cod or short rib, black rice and wild mushroom. To complete the dining experience, The Langham Sydney’s newly appointed Executive Pastry Chef, Prashanth Krishnan will create a decadent dessert table laden with sweet delights reflective of Kerrie’s illustrative style. The dinner is $99pp.

31st May |

The Kerrigan

Curving around to Walsh Bay to cap off your Vivid light trail? You’ll be able to pop in to the lush Pier One Sydney Harbour hotel and head out back to their resident smokehouse shack The Kerrigan. The mobile kitchen will be serving up special coloured burgers for Vivid Sydney; simple American-style burgers available with blue, red, green or purple buns, all $17 each (with fries) and made with beef, cheese, lettuce, Spanish onion, tomato, crispy bacon and chipotle mayo. They’ll be available each night of the festival from 5pm.

26th May – 17th June |

Vivid Suite at Hilton Sydney

Using their city location to their advantage, Hilton Sydney have jumped onto the Vivid scene by partnering with Philips Hue 2.0, a complex personal wireless lighting system which has been incorporated into the hotel’s Vivid-inspired suite. Their offering this up in a package for any staycationers or visitors to welcome Vivid Sydney into their accommodations, featuring lighting which guests can change seamlessly with one touch of an in-room iPad.

Guests in the suite will also be delivered two special Vivid cocktails from Marble Bar, a Caffe Cino high tea in-room experience and a morning-after buffet breakfast for two at glass Brasserie. Though the whole experience is going to set you back $759 per package.

26th May – 17th June |


Barangaroo joins Vivid Sydney as a precinct this year, now that it’s all up and running with a dizzying amount of restaurants and bars in between. It’s also a good excuse to check out all the fine establishments that stand facing the harbour, one of which is the excellent Banksii, where for Vivid the team will be pushing around an illuminated cocktail cart serving up Belvedere Vodka concoctions with glow-in-the-dark swizzle sticks and house-made fairy floss. As a bonus, they’ll also be offering an early bird special menu during evenings between 5pm and 6:30pm.

26th May – 17th June |

The Argyle

The Argyle will once again be going all out for their Vivid Sydney parties. This year they’ll be decking out the spot as a Tokyo-themed disco with 120,000 LEDs lighting up the courtyard and various Japanese-inspired light shows and interactive roving street performers. Planning to take the decks throughout the festival are various DJs and musicians including DJ Crespo, Press Play, Who Killed Mickey, Tenzin, Andy Murphy and Jesabel. The bar will be pushing out Vivid inspired cocktails during the festival and they’ll be a bunch of activities such as free movies under the stars alongside dinner specials.

26th May – 17th June |

Murder on the Dancefloor

There’s plenty of parties and events going down in Kings Cross during Vivid Sydney, but one that’s got us most excited is a neat cocktail and culinary experience that just so happens to double as a murder mystery party. It’ll take place at Crane Bar on 16th June, with DJ Kate Monroe spinning tunes while a menu of food and cocktails will fill the venue alongside a theatrical “murder mystery tour”.

16th June |

Untied Rooftop Parties

Barangaroo’s breezy rooftop bar will be hosting weekly Vivid parties each Thursday throughout the festival, kicking off at 4pm and wrapping up at 9pm to help you get away from the swarms of tourists. That’s not all though, they’ll also be offering a series of specially made Belvedere cocktails, including an espresso martini with burnt marshmallow, a mix they are calling the “basil dazzle” and a Vivid spritz.

26th May – 17th June |

Watch this space as we’ll be updating the feature as more is announced throughout Vivid Sydney. The festival runs from Friday 26th May to Saturday 17th June. A full program of official events and installations can be found HERE.


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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