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Vivid Sydney breaks attendance record again

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Vivid Sydney breaks attendance record again
Winter festival Vivid Sydney has broken its attendance record once again, with an estimated attendance of 3.28 million, equating to around 30 per cent growth.

With the event in its 13th year – after cancellations in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic – the festival has continued to evolve in 2023, offering the largest drone show in the Southern Hemisphere and a new food focus, with the flame-filled Vivid Fire Kitchen installed in subterranean event space The Cutaway in Barangaroo and an international takeover of fine-dining restaurant Aria. For the first time ever, the festival, owned and delivered by the state government, included light installations which were not free to experience. Tickets to installations in the Botanic Gardens and in tunnels under Wynyard Station could run to well over $100 for families.

“The preliminary Vivid Sydney attendance figures this year are extraordinary,” said NSW minister for jobs and tourism John Graham.

“Australia’s largest festival has grown by around 30 per cent. That’s an increase comparable to the population of the Gold Coast.”

“Over the past three weeks the city has felt vibrant and electric.”

Vivid’s festival director Gill Minervini said she was “still pinching myself” over the attendance growth.

“It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of the increase in turnout,” said Minervini.

“We’re extremely proud and very grateful to all our artists, performers, musicians, speakers and chefs. Without them, our program would not be anywhere near as successful.

“Vivid Food has been the standout in 2023. More than 190,000 people checked out Vivid Fire Kitchen which is just incredible, with many of our Vivid Food events receiving rave reviews, selling out or achieving very high attendance.”

The festival certainly paid dividends to the city’s hospitality businesses, with 745,000 people eating meals out across the festival, up 44,000. Restaurants across festival precincts on the city side of Sydney Harbour reported that 81 per cent of Vivid attendees made food or beverage purchases.

Hotels also benefitted, with occupancy rates lifting to 78 per cent on average over the festival, and 90 per cent on Friday and Saturday nights. Overall occupancy was 12 per cent higher than during the 2022 festival.

“The impact [Vivid Sydney] has on the city of Sydney is unparalleled and to see our hotels at times reaching 90 per cent occupancy during winter is a remarkable achievement,” said Michael Johnson, who is both the Accommodation Australia CEO and interim Accommodation Association CEO.

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