Sydney as vivid as ever
Festivals of light and music, a touch of Hollywood glamour and a flurry of trendy bars and slick new venues ensure the cosmopolitan city keeps visitors and locals on their toes.
BY LAUREN ARENA
The chill of Sydney’s winter months didn’t deter the crowds as international delegates and tourists, curious locals and interstate visitors flooded the harbour city for the fifth annual installment of Vivid Sydney. A record 800,000 people attended the 18-day festival, which featured an expanded program across light, music and ideas.
This year saw the longest ever Vivid Light Walk, extending its footprint into North Sydney with the lighting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as into the Darling Harbour precinct with the Aquatique water and lights display.
The Vivid Music program also expanded into new venues, including the Overseas Passenger Terminal and the Seymour Centre, and Vivid Ideas featured more than 180 industry and business events with more than 6000 tickets sold. More than 40,000 tickets were sold for the series of concerts and performances held at the Sydney Opera House, which included eight shows by seminal electronic band Kraftwerk, as part of Vivid LIVE.
NSW deputy premier and minister for trade and investment, Andrew Stoner, said “Vivid has huge appeal and has been successful in attracting visitors not only from this state and across Australia – where domestic travel packages were up eight per cent – but also internationally, with over 11,000 travel packages sold, including 7200 from China”.Vivid Sydney also proved a resounding success for Sydney hotels and retailers, with Accor’s Sydney properties in Circular Quay, The Rocks, Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour hitting record numbers.
Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour saw occupancy growth of 8.6 per cent compared to last year, with bookings already placed for Vivid 2014. The recently renovated Sebel Pier One Sydney also benefited from the increased foot traffic in Walsh Bay with a 16 per cent growth in room bookings and a 75 per cent rise in food and beverage profits over the duration of the festival.
According to Scott Boyes, Accor’s regional general manager for NSW, the Sydney hotel market has grown more than five per cent each year since the festival’s 2009 inception.
“Accor’s Sydney hotels fared exceptionally well during Vivid and we’re grateful to the NSW State Government, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Destination NSW for once again putting on a fantastic three-week event over what is typically a tough time of the year for hoteliers,” Mr Boyes said.
The largest festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, Vivid Sydney is owned and managed by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, and was initially implemented as an event-based strategy to drive the tourism and hospitality sector.
Destination NSW chief executive, Sandra Chipchase, said the festival has been embraced by Sydneysiders, visitors and the creative services industry and has become a signature event in the yearly NSW social calendar.
“So much enthusiasm and passion is invested in making Vivid Sydney a wonderful winter event, not only by the creative practitioners involved in the festival itself, but the hundreds of thousands of people who attended.
“To be able to hold an event which attracts so many visitors from all over the world is very special, and of course is an important contributor to the goal of doubling overnight expenditure by 2020 – this year we hosted 76 media and 284 international travel buyers,” Ms Chipchase said.
“There has been excellent collaboration with key partners and sponsors as well as hundreds of local businesses and communities to make Vivid Sydney a success, and something that is looked forward to every year. It’s a hallmark event for Sydney and Australia, and is also increasing its fan base internationally.”