Vivid at Taronga Zoo is back! One of our fave family nights of the year, it’s also our top pick for taking kids to see to see the lights at the annual Vivid festival of lights in Sydney.
While you do pay an entrance fee for Vivid at Taronga Zoo, the timed and ticked sessions mean that the crowds are way less and it’s much better managed than the other areas of the festival.
In line with Taronga Zoo’s focus on conservation, this year’s light show, “Lights for the Wild”, aims to entertain, but also educate the public on 10 of the special animals they are trying to save from extinction in the next 10 years. Each light installation and sculpture tells an important story about conservation.
“Lights for the Wild” is a spectacularly interactive and immersive event. The sculptures have been especially designed to interact with a state-of-the-art wristband worn by visitors, making for a very special evening where you can become the light the wild needs (more on the wristbands below).
Our favourites this year included the new buzzing bees, the chameleon from last year that now is even more interactive (you can use your wrist band to activate it!) and a giant interactive Port Jackson Shark that “swallowed” us.
Everything you need to know about Vivid at Taronga Zoo 2017
While you can catch the ferry, we prefer to drive and park there for $9 after 4pm. We never have any problems finding parking or with traffic either getting there or going back home again.
Pick your session
There are two sessions each night: the more kid-friendly 5:30pm-7:30pm slot and 7:30pm-9:30pm.
Buy tickets in advance
Buy your tickets from the Taronga Zoo website.
Prices: Adult $21.95 + booking fee, Child (4-15 years) $16.95 + booking fee, Child (under 4) are free.
A limited number of Blue Pass tickets are available each night and include a round trip on the Sky Safari. The Blue Passes cost the same as the regular tickets so I suggest getting them if possible. The Sky Safari DOES NOT STOP, it runs along a loop from the top of the pack back to where it started from.
While I saw a lot of people heading straight to the sky safari when they entered, I suggest seeing the other lights first to get ahead of the crowds, and taking the Sky Safari last before you go home when there is no queue.
Make a day of it
If you plan to visit the Zoo during the day before your evening Vivid outing, either buy the tickets online in advance at the same time as your Vivid tickets, or you can buy your Zoo day entry tickets at the Zoo ticket desk on arrival to enjoy a 30% discount off General Admission prices*
Please note: Taronga Zoo closes at 4.30pm and Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo commences at 5.30pm. If you are staying on you will be asked to come up to the main entry plaza to get ready for the beginning of your Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo experience. There is a cafe in the main entry plaza and plenty for the kids to enjoy while you’re waiting for the Vivid lights to turn on.
The Zoo Admission ticket is only valid for use on the same day as your Vivid ticket.
While there are cafes open with basic food if you don’t have time to do this, we always like to bring our own.
Get there early
This is really my mantra for anything we go to! Arrive well before the lights go on at 5:30pm so you get in ahead of most of the people in your timed session. The lights are projected onto the entrance well before 5:30pm so if you arrive early you can watch this screening and then head through, check out the sculptures that are placed before the ticketed gate, and be first in line when 5:30pm strikes and the doors open.
Watch the show at the entrance
The front entry wall has a spectacular light show projected onto it that many of the kids say is always the highlight of their evening. We often watch the show at the beginning before heading in, and then linger longer as we are existing. The wall comes to life with animals and colour, all moving over the entrance gates. Well worth watching the entire show cycle through at least once.
Collect your wrist band
This year, all visitors get a very high tech wristband that changes colour over the course of the light trail through the zoo. When you approach sculptures the colour on the wristband changes.
Follow the trail
The trail winds throughout Taronga Zoo on a circular path. It is completely stroller and wheelchair accessible. The multimedia light sculptures are dotted along the path.
Recycle Your Wristband
The interactive wristbands are recyclable, but they need to be sent to a specific facility for this to happen. On your way out, drop your wristband into the dedicated bin in the top plaza (the location can be found on the Vivid map). Wristbands are free to all paid ticket holders. Additional wristbands can be bought on site for $5 each.
The light trail takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete. The whole trail is extremely stroller and wheelchair accessible.
There are family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms available for use at the entrance at throughout the trail (please check the map).
Catch Vivid at Taronga Zoo from May 26th to June 17, 2017.
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!