As the winter chill approaches it would be easy for Sydney-siders to retreat into their warm homes but the Vivid Festival ensures we do not hibernate. Instead it is time to don a warm jacket and head in to the city to see the light installations and projections that illuminate Sydney during the festival.
Our family have been visiting this event every year since its first year. It has grown in size and developed into an event which draws people from interstate and overseas.
This year the event organisers appointed a dedicated access and inclusion coordinator who was keen to make Vivid accessible to all. I am impressed with the detailed information which has been produced to ensure anyone with mobility or other access requirements is able to enjoy the event. Maps and detailed information including street gradient, reserved viewing areas for those with mobility requirements and audio descriptions are all designed to make a visit to Vivid easier to navigate for visitors.
WHAT IS VIVID SYDNEY?
If you live interstate or overseas you may be wondering what is Vivid. Vivid is a free event which sees Sydney light up with a mixture of light installations and projections on some of our most iconic buildings. It is spectacular. There is something so simple about coloured light but what the artists and the creative director produce is simply magic. Even as an adult it evokes a sense of child like wonder in me. Many events are geared either to kids or adults but I can honestly say there is something for every age bracket at this event.
We were lucky enough to be invited by Destination NSW to attend a preview for the festival. It was a taster and from what I saw last night my favourite so far is the projection on the side of Customs House. It is whimsical and magical and a must-see
Kids love hands on and interactive displays and there are plenty of these this year. The ones I have seen so far are completely accessible, with no steps or barriers for wheelchair access.
These cubes change colour by touch and BJ thought this was fun and just the right height for his wheelchair.
The matting around the installations, like the one surrounding this mangrove light display, makes it much easier with a wheelchair.
Paint the Town is also wheelchair accessible and allows visitors the opportunity to paint the town. There is a control panel where AJ, with the ‘help’ of BJ, chose the colours for the different buildings in the distance and then she could choose the effect or how the lights would display on the building. AJ chose a random effect and we stood back and watched it come to life on the buildings above Circular Quay. Really cool.
There is such a variety of projections and installations along the trail that it is like a discovery trail with something new around every corner.
RESERVED VIEWING AREAS
We are thrilled to see that the Vivid organisers have kept the reserved viewing areas for people with mobility restrictions.
We took advantage of this last year and it made the world of difference to our Vivid experience. At festivals like this people are often so dazzled by what they are seeing they become unaware of those around them, leaving those using a wheelchair without a view. Near the Opera House you will have an unobstructed view which is priceless. Check the accessibility map for other locations.
- Visit early on a weekday evening – lights go on at 6pm. In my opinion, Monday night is the secret night to visit. We recently found that a night with slight drizzle seemed to keep crowds light too.
- If you feel overwhelmed by the scope of the event I suggest choosing a particular area and simply enjoying that. My must-see is the Customs House projection and the area around First Fleet Park, Museum of Contemporary Art, Campbells Cove and the area in front of the Park Hyatt.
- Use the Vivid Sydney Accessibility website to plan and research your visit. The information is extensive and it will help you make the most of your evening.
- This year there is increased drop off and pick up zones.
- If you are driving into the city, check the Vivid website for parking stations with van parking.
- Public transport is the recommended way to get into the city on the weekend in particular as there are many road closures.
- Disabled unisex toilets are available and marked clearly on the Vivid Sydney accessibility map.
- Take advantage of the unobstructed views near the Opera House and Overseas Passenger Terminal. There is a reserved area for visitors using a wheelchair or with mobility requirements. It is marked on the map with a star and can be found here.
- Limited special parking areas (Monday to Thursday) are available for disability groups and disability services. These can only be pre-booked.
- If in doubt about access once you are in the city, head to one of the accessible information booths at Circular Quay and Darling Harbour, these have lower counter tops for those using a wheelchair and for anyone with a guide dog this is a good spot for them to have a drink as water bowls will be available for pooches.
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