Travelling with Stabilo #23: Vivid Sydney 2018
经纬游踪 #23: 悉尼灯光节2018
The Vivid Festival is a festival of light that takes place in Sydney every year in June. Vivid Sydney 2018 has just finished a few days ago. This year, there has been a lot of negative press about the Vivid event, saying how it is not as good, too crowded and nothing much to see. For someone like me who had not been to Vivid festival for a few years, I was actually quite impressed at how Vivid has evolved into. While there are indeed highs and lows, it was in general pretty well done and especially in a photographer's point of view.
We started our Vivid journey from Phillip Street where we parked our car, and we walked down Albert Street towards Circular Quay. Circular Quay is the major transport hub in Sydney CBD. Facing the Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge and within a stone throw to the Opera house, it is always busy at any time of the day, but especially so during the nights of Vivid as visitors flocked in to admire of the various light arts that is set up around the area. On the streets towards the harbour front, light sculptures of different sizes and shapes can be seen dotted along the path or in various open spaces. All very cool to watch but not spectacular enough for photographing. At the end of the street in front of the Circular Quay train station, crowds gather around for the lighting show projected on the Victorian style façade of the custom house. In previous years, the Custom house has been used to display artistic light shows. This year, it is essentially used as a giant projector screen for showing cartoons (with sound). Cool for kids to watch, but not very artistic. As we walk through the train station against the massive crowds to the harbour side of the Quay area, something finally caught my eyes. A massive spinning light sculpture that changes colours every minute or so. Shaped like giant toddler toys these colourful spinning tops is surprisingly mesmerizing.
我们的灯光节路线从市中心Phillip Street 停车场开始。晚饭后，我们沿着马路前往环形码头。环形码头是悉尼市中心的交通汇点，是火车站，码头和巴士总站相汇之处。这里有悉尼港口和悉尼大桥最美的景观，离世界闻名的悉尼歌剧院只有五分钟的步行距离，所以就算是平时也是人头涌涌。而在灯光节晩上这里更是人山人海。在前往码头的路边可以看见各色各类的灯饰，虽然不算是特别精美，可也算是不错的点缀。在火车站旁的旧海关大楼前堆满了人，在欣赏这英式古典建筑外墙上的投影。往年都是投影比较梦幻的动图，今年却索性播放儿童动画。对小孩的确挺有趣，可惜牺牲了艺术感。穿过了火车站，到了港口那边，终于看到了个比较有意思的灯饰。这个灯光摆设像一个特大型号的婴儿玩具，一边旋转一边变色，非常梦幻。
Turning around, we finally had a glimpse of the harbour, and were impressed by the lighting show in front of us. Strobe lights of blue and white shot from the top of the overseas passenger terminal on the left and a high apartment on the right, lighting up the sky above it. A similar set of strobe lights was also installed on the top of the harbour bridge, with the brilliant rays crossing paths in amid the low-lying clouds. The bridge itself was lighted up with blue and purple, towering over the Ferris wheel at Luna Park on the other side of the harbour. There was even a helicopter with coloured lights circling around the harbour, creating a mini lighting show. Everything looked incredibly colourful and vibrant!
Same as previous years, the centre of attention of Vivid Sydney seems to be the colourful projections dancing on the sails of the Sydney Opera House. As a result, the crowd along the waterfront between Circular Quay and the Opera House is almost unbearable, as thousands of visitors both trying to fight for a place right by the water so that they can actually get a view of the Opera House, as well as being herded by security guards moving people along. If you got a little one, hold on to them tight because even adults can get separated and lost within seconds.
The one new thing that was worth mentioning is the Samsung Pop-up platform just in front of the Opera House. From the looks of things, the Samsung Pop-up offers different light arts and displays setup inside, as well as a viewing platform on top that will give visitors an uninterrupted view of the colourful Opera House and the beautiful harbour. But such an exclusive setup of course would require long queuing, so we just skipped ahead. Once past the Samsung setup, the crowd thins drastically as we left behind the optimal viewing point of the Opera House light show. However, it is here that I found inspiration from the incredibility symmetrical Samsung structure and the passing crowds. Sometimes, the best photos opportunities can be found at the least expected place.
After stopping for a drinks-break (there was the pop-up store selling hot drinks and water), we walked towards the Botanic Garden, hoping to get a different angle of the Opera House and the Bridge. Unfortunately, only after going into the garden we realise that the Opera House is not actually light up on this side. Furthermore, the path to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, the vantage point for the best view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, was closed off. And to make it worse, we cannot backtrack ourselves out – it was a one-way only traffic. So the only thing we could do was to follow the footpath around the various light sculptures setup in the garden. While most were quite mundane, there were well placed structures that forms quite a picturesque scene with the CBD skyline as the backdrop
One setup within the Botanic Gardens that received a lot of praise is a pond with coloured light spheres placed directly above the water. Like fireflies reflecting off the surface of the pond, the blue and purple spheres contrasted well with the large tree lighted up in pink behind the pond. White mist shrouded the pond, creating a scene that is both mysterious and surreal. Definitely one of the better setups at the festival.
Exiting the Botanic Garden, visitors have the option to route back to Circular Quay to explore other parts of the harbour, especially towards the Rocks. However, it was enough walking for us for one night, and we decided to head home. Although we were indeed a bit annoyed at the enormous crowds and the many restrictions that was in place, it was nonetheless an enjoyable experience. I would definitely recommend the next one for people who haven’t been.