Vivid Sydney smashed through the two million visitors mark in 2016, turning the annual light, music and ideas festival, which ended a week ago, into a cultural phenomenon the size of Brisbane.
Visitor numbers grew by 35.4% to 2.31 million people, up from 2015’s 1.7 million.
The festival was extended by an extra five nights in 2016, but large parts of it had to be closed for two nights on June 4-5 as an east coast low hammered the city and damaged some of the festival lighting.
The exponential growth in the popularity of the festival was reflected in a doubling in tourists who came to Sydney on specific Vivid travel packages. This year 88,300 packages sold, an increase of 104%. The packages were roughly evenly split between domestic and international visitors, including 17,800 packages sold in China. That number has doubled in just two years.
The festival crowd has now grown tenfold in just seven years from the 225,000 who attended the first festival in 2009.
Social media also extended the impact, with 42 million people reached from the Vivid Sydney Facebook and 360° Facebook videos generating 1.9 million views in two days. There were also more than 88,000 downloads of the Vivid Sydney app.
Destination NSW CEO and Vivid Sydney executive producer Sandra Chipchase said the music program also recorded substantial growth with more than 132,000 attendees at 190 performances. Many, including New Order at the Sydney Opera House, were sold out almost immediately.
The Vivid Ideas program saw 54,000 attendees listening to 658 speakers at 183 events.
Chipchase said that once again expanding the sites for Vivid lights had added to the success.
“New precincts at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Taronga Zoo were firm visitor favourites as well as the spectacular Songlines projection onto the Sydney Opera House Sails that celebrated Indigenous Australian culture,” Chipchase said.
The festival also posted a Guinness World Record title for the Largest Interactive Lighting Display, awarded to the Dress Circle installation at Circular Quay. The 2016 festival featured more than 90 light installations and projections created by more than 150 artists from 23 different countries
The economic boost to Sydney is still being calculated by Destinations NSW, but last year it was estimated at $63 million, a 50% increase on 2014’s $43 million.
Destination NSW has just released this time lapse of Vivid Sydney 2016, so you can relive it one more time:
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