Vivid Sydney with kids: A really quick trip!

On our way home from our Fiji trip, the timing of our flights meant we had a short overnight stay in Sydney. Short in that we arrived about 7.30pm and had to be up at 5.00am for our connection on to Perth. In any normal circumstance that would mean just a simple night in an airport hotel – but no, not for my eight-year-old son! As soon as he heard about our brief stopover he was determined to get me to take him into the centre of Sydney, because he had never in his life seen the Sydney Opera House or the Sydney Harbour Bridge and he was determined to!

View across Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay

View across Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay

Sydney Vivid dates coincide!

At first I gave him the classic parent answer “We’ll see”, but not long after I realised that the Vivid Festival would still be on – and having seen many photos over the past few years of this incredible Sydney light show, I knew we just had to go into town and see it.

While the festival website itself had heaps of info, I knew local knowledge would be even better and asked my friend Julie of Have Wheelchair Will Travel for her tips – I’d seen photos of her visiting Vivid in the past and I knew she would be able to tell me exactly what to do. And thank you Julie – your tips were perfect!

Fortunately our flight arrived on time (if we’d been too much later, I don’t think my poor son could have stayed awake – 7.30pm was already 9.30pm Fiji time, for our adjusted body clocks). We were staying in a hotel just five minutes from the airport, but also cleverly close to the Mascot train station which took us straight into Circular Quay. Yippee!

Our Sydney Harbour Vivid tour

From Circular Quay we could already see so much of the Vivid Festival, but then we went one step further and hopped on a ferry for a quick ride. In fact, contrary to our instructions (I think!) we got off just under the bridge at Luna Park, but that turned out to be perfect as Luna Park was letting people in for free from 6pm as part of Vivid. It was fun to stroll through here although we were too late to buy anything other than fairy floss (cotton candy) – I’m fairly sure it is a parenting sin to make fairy floss into a dinner food but sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!

Crazy mirrors at Luna Park during Vivid Sydney

Crazy mirrors at Luna Park during Vivid Sydney

It was a winter night, of course, and after a while we started to get pretty chilly and hopped on another ferry to take us back to the Quay. The views from that ride to the Sydney Opera House and the amazing light show on its sails were fantastic! My son was just so thrilled to see both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, so iconic and famous, and of course in such style, with the amazing Vivid lights and colours.

It seemed to me as though every part of central Sydney was lit up. From the station we could see an animated light up and in the sky there were various beams of light appearing from all across the centre of the city. How lucky were we that we were there at just the right time to see it!!

Heading under the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Vivid Light Festival

Heading under the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Vivid Light Festival

Visiting Vivid with kids

When we finally got on the train back to Mascot, my son suddenly looked like he’d completely run out of fuel – he nearly fell asleep and our short walk back to the hotel was suddenly like a marathon to him! So ideally, I would try to have longer in Sydney than just those few (late!) hours to see Vivid with kids, but if you are on a time limit like us, then make the effort anyway – it was well worth it!

I think the only down side for my son now is that his expectations of future visits to Sydney have been set very high! I’ve explained carefully that the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House aren’t lit up quite so beautifully all year round – but first impressions really count, right?

In any case, we have a whole heap of friends in Sydney (even more who we met on our Fiji trip – I chatted with some on the podcast!) and I have promised my son a return trip some day soon so that we can visit friends and see more than the two-hour version of Sydney during Vivid. Yes, he has got me looking up flights and yes, it probably won’t be long before he convinces me to take him back there! Fortunately I rather like Sydney myself, so watch this space … we’ll be back soon!

Vivid Sydney with Kids

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