Travel Without Limits Winter/Autumn 2024 Issue OUT NOW! Subscribe Here →

How to avoid the crowds at Vivid Sydney 2024

Vivid Sydney is a wonderful event which illuminates and invigorates evenings in Sydney just as the weather is becoming chilly. While the event is fabulous, it draws huge crowds to the city (3.5million last year!) and it can be overwhelming for children in prams, wheelchair users, those who don’t cope well with sensory overload and for some older people. When seemingly everyone is attending Vivid it’s hard not to experience FOMO (fear of missing out) if you’re not going, so we thought we’d put together a list of ways to avoid the crowds (the worst of them at least) and still experience Vivid Sydney 2024.

Vivid 2024 how to avoid the crowds - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Dark Spectrum Vivid Sydney 2024

How to avoid the crowds at Vivid Sydney 2024

Vivid Sydney attracts people from around Australia each year and the city explodes with colour, music and the buzzing of people attending the various venues. We are regular visitors to Vivid Sydney and have learned tips and tricks to avoid the worst of the crowds so we’re sharing our tips for Vivid Sydney 2024.

Visit Vivid on a weeknights

Weeknights are much quieter, particularly Monday nights (except for the long weekend).  If it’s raining or drizzling on a weeknight that’s even better. It’s both quieter and the reflections are stunning.

Stay up late

I’m not a night owl but on a couple of occasions we’ve stayed in the city during Vivid and noted that as it gets later in the evening the crowds decrease. If you don’t mind a late night, arrive later in the evening and wander around once the majority of people have headed home.

Stay at a hotel with a view

It’s not cheap to book a stay in Sydney during Vivid but if you can find a last-minute deal, try for a hotel with a view of the harbour. One year we stayed at the Sydney Harbour YHA and the terrace had the most spectacular view of the Opera House and the city’s buildings that are illuminated. We were away from the crowds but still had access to wonderful view of the action.

Avoid the long weekend

When you have a bonus day off work and school it’s tempting to head into Vivid but it’s traditionally the busiest time of the festival.

Avoid the evenings the drone show is on

Vivid 2023 - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Last year Hubby was keen to visit Vivid Sydney on one of the evenings the drone show was on. We trekked in and the city was heaving around Circular Quay. Although the drone show was amazing, we found it really difficult to find a position to watch it from as the crowd was so thick and for Braeden, a wheelchair user, it was particularly tough. If you are crowd intolerant, avoid the nights the drone show is on (8 & 9 June and 15 June)

Driving to the city

Although everything you read will advise leaving your car at home, we drive to the city and pay for parking in one of the many parking stations close to the action. Leave plenty of time because many routes into the city will be congested. Driving to the city means you don’t have to join the crowds on the railways stations and on the trains.

Ticketed events

Vivid Sydney - how to avoid the crowds - Dark Spectrum
Dark Spectrum Vivid Sydney 2024

If your budget can stretch to paying for a ticketed event, it’s worth it. Ticketed events have a capped number of visitors so you can be assured it won’t be a crowd crush. Dark Spectrum is a sound and light show which occurs on specific afternoons and evenings during the Vivid Sydney Festival. Being a ticketed event, attendance is limited and I would imagine during the afternoon sessions it is quieter than the evenings. We also recommend Lightscape in the Sydney Botanic Gardens for the same reason.

Take to the water

Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Although you’ll only see a portion of the lights from a harbour cruise, it is a way to get a view of Vivid in comfort. The Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are the jewels in the Vivid light show crown and you should see both from the the deck of a boat. We haven’t been on a harbour cruise during Vivid but after I recently attended a lunch on the Journey Beyond vessel I highly recommend it. The spacious deck provides plenty of room to take in the view and is large enough to accommodate multiple wheelchair users.

If a harbour cruise is too expensive, what about taking a ferry? Drive to a location where you are able to park and then catch a ferry to the city. Take in the views and hop on the next ferry home again.

Vivid 2024 how to avoid the crowds - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Lightscape Sydney Botanic Gardens 2024

Get above the crowd

Book a table at a restaurant with a harbour view or grab a drink in a bar that overlooks the harbour. You will of course need to get to the venue so take that into consideration when booking.

The Cahill Expressway is a fabulous free spot to enjoy the harbour views. Take the lift at the eastern end of Circular Quay up to the Cahill Expressway or make your way around from Macquarie Street. On drone show evenings the Cahill is crowded though so again, avoid these evenings.

Use the accessible viewing areas

Vivid - How to avoid the crowds - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

If eligible to use them, make sure you take advantage of the accessible viewing areas. Check their location on the Vivid Sydney Festival accessible map and research your trip to Vivid Sydney 2024 using the extensive accessibility information on the Destination NSW website.

If you visit Vivid Sydney 2024 we hope you have a wonderful time and if you have any tips or tricks to avoiding the crowds, please make sure you share them below. It’ll be our secret!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.