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Vivid Sydney’s Access and Inclusion Partner Cushman & Wakefield have created an inclusive experience at this year’s event to ensure all children and their families can enjoy the magic of Vivid Sydney in its 10th anniversary year. Our family have attended every year since the very beginning so I was thrilled to be invited to contribute to the development and design of this area. Many fun meetings were held where people with varying skills and experiences came together to dream and design installations which would be exciting but suitable for people of varying abilities. It was wonderful to visit last night and see what transpired from those meetings. Vivid runs from 25 May to 16 June.

This year Vivid Sydney features an inclusive playground – Tumbalong Lights.

Tumbalong Lights, located in Darling Harbour, is home to four interactive play installations that form an inclusive and accessible experience for all children, no matter their level of ability. The area has been created based on inclusive design principles that enable not only access, but the participation of all children, their families and carers.
The installations are themed around underwater experiences and visitors will be immersed and inspired by the magic of the sea as they explore new worlds of light, colour and sensory experiences for children and the young at heart.
Families with children that have a disability or special access requirement can pre-register for free family zone tickets which will be run across three session times each night, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience. I suggest registering ASAP as I’m sure this will be extremely popular.
One pre booked low sensory session will be available each night, this will allow people with autism or sensory sensitivities to experience Tumbalong Lights with lowered light and sound and reduced crowds.
Two tactile tours (subject to interest) will be offered to those that are blind or vision impaired, so that they can engage and enjoy each interactive experience via touch and description.

You can read more about the four interactive play installations here.

It’s fantastic to see Cushman & Wakefield on board for a second year as an official access and inclusion partner of Destination NSW. It’s exciting to see a focus on inclusion as this is one of Sydney’s most popular events every year.  Don’t forget to book your tickets here.

We headed down to Tumbalong Park last night to take a journey underwater for a sneak peek before it opens tonight (25 May).

BJ is a big fan of hands-on experiences so he was thrilled with the options on offer. From a giant sea themed piano to magical mushrooms (note I was careful there!) which when pushed light up. Everything about Tumbalong Lights is aimed at engaging through interaction.

In the Scale of the Sea is a giant musical keyboard where visitors can interact with the installation by playing the keyboard. When the giant keys are touched, music plays and each key lights up coral, a sea urchin, a large clam or starfish within the colourful seascape. It encourages play and interaction by bringing together kids and adults of all abilities.

Enchanted Garden has a pathway which winds its way through a glowing underwater world where visitors can interact with a colourful garden of illuminated sea plants. The mushrooms are set at different pressure levels. So for someone like BJ that doesn’t have much power to depress them, there’s some that only require a lighter push.

As a parent, I was happy to see picture communication symbols being used to show children a range of different messages from how to play the under the sea piano to lining up and waiting.

There is a chill out zone for families to retreat to if the noise or crowds become too much and they need a breather.

Kids can grab a wheelchair to borrow (if they don’t have their own) to Ride Into the Night, an experience which channels the surburban roller rink. Watching BJ roll around with the other kids in chairs it felt like they  were taking part in an underwater inspired maze, negotiating the corners and finding their way from start to finish. The kids wheel over aquatic-themed interactive light projections. Sessions last up to three minutes with a maximum of 10 participants on the rink for each session.

If you are driving to Tumbalong Park, please note that the ICC parking charges $28 flat rate after 5pm so although it’s the closest parking, I recommend the Darling Quarter as it’s less than half the price. You may find this guide to cheap parking helpful.

Please note the ICC has an adult change facility and large accessible bathroom. You can see full details here.


Growing up in Australia, there would be few children who haven’t read, or seen, The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs. Not only do I love these stories but I have a fond spot for May Gibbs the author. Upon her death in 1969, May Gibbs bequeathed the copyright of her works to Northcott and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to support children with disability. We’ve used the services of both over the years. This year Vivid Sydney is celebrating the 100th anniversary of The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie with a projection on Customs House.

This projection is delightful and whimsical. It had BJ totally captivated.

The Gateway Centre nearby is a great spot to grab food and has an excellent bathroom facility. You can find a list of the best city bathroom facilities here.


As regular visitors to the event, we share our access tips each year hoping to help you plan your visit.

If you are visiting Vivid use the well thought out accessible viewing areas which are reserved for people with a disability or mobility restrictions. The viewing areas are located at –

• Sydney Opera House
Provides a managed area with seating on the western boardwalk that is open from 6pm each evening (location is close to the Portobello Caffe).

• Hickson Road Reserve, Dawes Point
Provides a managed, viewing area of the Lighting of the Sails: Metamathemagical at the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, EORA – Dark Emu, and Skylark. Open from 6pm each evening.

• Darling Harbour
Provides a managed, viewing area on the Western Promenade of Cockle Bay. Open from 6pm each evening.

Hard plastic matting has been laid over grass areas to make access to the installations easier.

Sturdy ramps are in place over gutters to allow access.

If you need a break from the crowds, head to the Cahill Walk. Even the lift ride provides spectacular views of the city. The lift to the Cahill Walk can be found at the Opera House end of the ferry wharves. It’s set back from the harbour, towards the road.

When you get to the top you’ll be rewarded with unobstructed views of Sydney Harbour.

Expect big crowds at Vivid so arrive in the city well before the lights switch on and choose one or two areas to tackle during your visit.

You can read more about access and inclusion at Vivid 2018 here.


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