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A Guide On How To Enjoy Vivid For Anyone Who Hates Crowds

If the thought of a bunch of bustling bodies pressing against you as you try to enjoy Vivid Festival makes you want to stay inside forever, hold up -- there's light ahead of the tunnel.

Vivid Sydney is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest festival of light, music and ideas, and overall, it’s a pretty big vibe. But, frankly, it can get a little overwhelming if you’re one of those who doesn’t do so well in big crowds (a whopping 2.25 million attendees visited last year, welp).

Image: Supplied/Hamilton Lund.

But there are definitely strategic ways to approach the festival -- which runs from Friday 24 May until Saturday 15 June at several different precincts across Sydney -- that will make sure you get involved with your sanity still intact.

1. Time it right

The major drawcard of the festival is obviously the Light Walk: more than 50 installations shining brightly over a 3km stroll through the city. Understandably, things can get pretty busy along the trail, so to see it all anxiety-free, pick your time strategically.

Vivid’s on for 23 days, so go for a weeknight of the second week for fewer fellow light-gazers; and while things get lit (literally) from 6 pm, the lights burn bright till 11 pm, giving you time to let the early-bird crowds calm down.

Instead of hurrying to hit the Light Walk when it kicks off, grab a drink with a view of the lights show from above (O Bar & Dining and Shangri-La’s Blu Bar on 36 are both top options).

2. Choose the right crowd

If you’re down for a very specific group to enjoy Vivid with (aka 10 of your closest friends) and you like your experiences a little on the ‘extra’ side, add Igloos On The Pier to your schedule.

You can actually hire a see-through dome (complete with luxe furnishings) down at Pier One Sydney harbour for a few hours and have it catered, or stay the night and literally sleep beneath the stars.

3. Get out on the water

Regular Sydney ferries will still run if you’re keen to get out on the harbour, but for a curated view -- and fewer fellow sailors -- there’s a range of cruising options (starting from a very wallet-friendly $35) to give you a unique vantage point to view the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Fort Denison, The Rocks and Walsh Bay minus the millions of people. Plus, the lights look extra pretty sparkling on the water (did somebody say romance?).

4. Catch a show

Along with all the incredible visual offerings at Vivid festival, there’s a huge program of events that taps into other art forms -- and catching some live music at an iconic venue, like the Sydney Opera House, is a fun way to get involved in the festivities with the bonus of ticketed seating (read: no jostling for standing room).

Kate Miller-Heidke is just one of the hot Aussie acts to catch during Vivid.

Plus, while you’re on your way in or out, you’ll get the chance to check out the (very impressive) artwork projection on the Opera House Sails, ‘Austral Flora Ballet’. Win-win.

5. Book a spot in a workshop

Vivid is about amazing light features and great music, yes, but it’s also heavy on the exchange of ideas -- cue a huge program of creativity workshops, TED-style public talks, panel sessions and seminars with renowned thought leaders you can get involved in without having to rub shoulders with the masses.

From talks about plant-based eating to a deep dive into what the future of sex looks like (hint: artificial intelligence makes a cameo), take a seat and absorb some knowledge away from the hustle and bustle.