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Nearly one million people are expected to throng Sydney Harbour foreshores and other areas when Vivid Sydney lights up and entertains the city with its 2014 spectacular of light, music and ideas.

Lighting up the winter from 23 May to 9 June, the festival, which commenced in 2009, will feature 50 light installations and sculptures, 3Dmapped building projections, the stunning Opera House Sails and the amazing Light Walk around the Harbour. It was originally formed by Events NSW and last year attracted 800,000 people including 11,000 travel packages with over 7,000 visitors from China. While there are other light festivals around the world and in Australia, Vivid is considered one of the biggest and most spectacular and the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Named as Australia’s Event of the Year in 2013, last year Vivid Sydney delivered around $20 million in new money for the State, and fostered new tourism markets and opportunities. Known around the world, Sydney Harbour is a major attraction for interstate and international tourists but it will light up as never before this year by becoming an aquatic wonderland with ferries, cruise ships and water taxis decked with lights that change colour as they cross different paths.

The harbour precincts will be transformed into a creative canvas of light from 6pm to midnight each night extending from the iconic Opera House to Circular Quay, The Rocks, Walsh Bay, Darling Harbour and the Inner West.

Most eyes will focus on the Opera House sails where viewers will be taken on a journey through time from the birth of civilisation and architecture to the latest in human and technological achievement.

Just as many will watch the sandstone facade of the Customs House light up with a series of musical sculptures that can be ‘played’ by visitors from a platform in front of the building. And at the Museum of Contemporary Art it will be an abstract, emotional and playful journey as the building seems to change its entire structure.

But it is not only about the lights. There will be great music at the Opera House, the exchange of ideas at the Museum of Contemporary Art, design your own light show on the Bridge and for the first time, Martin Place will have two outstanding light installations flanking the Cenotaph.

Organisers say Vivid Sydney is always looking to grow and develop. It is a major celebration of the creative industries and celebrates Sydney as the creative hub of the Asia-Pacific with its large scale light installations and projections, free family events, music performances and collaborations, creative ideas, public talks, discussion and debate at seminars, conferences and workshops.

For those people with a musical taste, there are collaborations and performances to entertain and intrigue, from mainstream to avant-garde at various venues. This includes Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House with US indie-rock, Britain’s Heritage Orchestra and the combination of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and electro-pop artists presenting a history of music spanning thousands of years.

The Light Walk takes the visitor on a magical journey through more than 50 changing light installations, some of which are fun, others interactive but all free. Watch for the Geodesic Light Dome where the lights change colour and design to produce new combinations, Kaleido Wall appears out of the darkness as a wall of mirrors, the glowing Orb surrounds its area like an artificial sun.

Move on to First Fleet Park where visitors are invited to jump on The Pool and its coloured circular pads that swirl around in changing patterns. Heart of the City demonstrates the natural, organic and data-driven heart of the city. Look for Clapiconia which could be highly popular by asking the onlooker to make their own clapping sound and get a sound and light show in response.

Sketches of Douglas Mawson’s expedition to Antarctica in 1911 are brought to life at Terra Incognita inside the Cleland Bond building and have some fun at Evolution in Campbell’s Cove by comparing old and new light sources.

Walk beneath the Harbour Bridge pylon to Walsh Bay where the Spirit of Patyegarang calls from the rocks. She was a young Eora girl who became friends with Lt William Dawes, a First Fleet astronomer who is commemorated by the promontory which now carries his name. It was created by the Bangarra Dance Theatre in the first indigenous contribution to the Vivid Light Walk.

Continue around to Walsh Bay where Sydney’s newest art precinct is waiting to be discovered. If you have never fished in the dark, Lunar Net will give you that experience with sculpture suspended beneath historic wharves. And if you want to relax after the walk, try LOL, which is located on the waters for a rewarding laugh.

Australians have always had a love of the water and thousands head to Darling Harbour to watch the Aquatique Water Theatre. Created by French company Aquatique Show International, it is considered to be unrivalled in water shows. Computer controlled dancing water jets, specialised sculptural fountains, four giant water screens, four high-powered lasers and a fireworks display make up the performance.

Children are well catered for in this area with the Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds, the IMAX theatre and the Darling Harbour playgrounds and Luminous at Darling Quarter. Don’t forget the Australian National Maritime Museum which has a sound and light show projected on to the roof top to bring the remarkable world of marine animals to life. The Museum also features two exhibitions on whales devoted to their diversity, origins and adaptation.

There are so many more attractions of interest and learning to be seen and enjoyed as Vivid Sydney lights up in all of its brilliance to present the gateway to Australia’s biggest city in sensational style.

Article extracted from Freemason magazine, June 2014, pages 24 and 25.

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