Festival-goers from Sydney, as well as regional New South Wales (NSW), interstate and international markets, turned out for the festival's first weekend to experience some of the 300+ events and activations that make up the 2023 program. The opening weekend attendance represents a 4 per cent increase from Vivid Sydney's previous highest opening weekend in 2022.
Minister for Jobs and Tourism John Graham said the 2023 program was about bringing people together while providing economic benefits to Sydney and NSW businesses.
"It was great to see tens of thousands of families out enjoying the Vivid Light Walk and it was encouraging to see the city's business district so vibrant and businesses benefiting from the record turnout.
"This festival is about community, bringing Sydneysiders and visitors from around the state, the country and the world together to celebrate our creative industries, and experience something new from world-class activations and events to diverse food culture and hospitality.
"Vivid Sydney 2023 is off to a flying start but there is still plenty of time to get out and take part in this unique Sydney celebration. I encourage those who are thinking about visiting the festival to plan their visit to the city and enjoy the festival in person."
The longest-ever Vivid Sydney Light Walk, festival-first experiences including Lightscape and Dark Spectrum, as well as Vivid Food, were all among the most visited festival offerings on the opening weekend. Restaurants, cafes and bars benefited from over 120,000 diners (up 5 per cent on opening weekend in 2022). Overall, 85 per cent of attendees purchased food and beverages during the festival's opening weekend.
Vivid Sydney 2023 started with First Light, a moving Welcome to Country, followed by a celebration of First Nations peoples and culture featuring Yothu Yindi performing the iconic song Treaty.
Then, at 6 p.m. on Friday 26 May (AEST), the bright and dazzling lights of Vivid Sydney 2023 were turned on as fireworks, searchlights and drones lit up the sky around Circular Quay and the sails of the Sydney Opera House were illuminated with the vibrant works of the late John Olsen AO OBE animated by creative technologists Curiious for Life Enlivened (2023).
On Sunday 28 May (AEST), more than 1,000 drones took to the night sky in the first of six scheduled drone shows titled "Written in the Stars." Tens of thousands of Sydneysiders and visitors were amazed by the incredible images and animations from the largest drone show in the Southern Hemisphere which provides an awe-inspiring journey through the natural world above us.
"Written in the Stars" will be staged throughout the festival on Sunday and Wednesday nights, and on Monday 12 June, from 9:10 p.m. (subject to weather conditions), and is set to an accompanying audio track available on Cinewav.
Vivid Sydney Festival Director Gill Minervini said the expanded program and new, innovative events were key to engaging audiences in 2023.
"Vivid Sydney is the ultimate celebration of creative industries and our spectacular city.
"This year's program raises the bar and reimagines the types of activations we offer - festival firsts, world premieres and never-before-activated spaces, and the brand-new pillar, Vivid Food.
"The programming is so diverse - there really is something for everyone. We are thrilled that so many have been part of our first festival weekend - the feedback and response have been incredible. There is still so much more to come!"
Vivid Sydney is the largest festival in Australia and runs nightly from 6 p.m. until Saturday 17 June. In 2022, the festival welcomed 2.58 million visitors and injected $119 million into the NSW economy.
For more information, visit www.visitsydney.com.
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