How Vivid Sydney boosted the night-time economy

Vivid Sydney 2023 hit its biggest attendance record in history, boasting a crowd of more than 3.28 million and turbocharging the night-time economy.

The preliminary figures demonstrate another booming year for Vivid Sydney, with the record participants enjoying Light, Music, Ideas and Food programs over 23 nights.

Restaurants, cafes and bars enjoyed a surge in patronage. Last year 701,000 people ate meals across the festival and this year that number is up to 745,000.

The sold-out ‘Vivid Residence’ event showcased one of the world’s best chefs, Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, in a takeover at Aria Restaurant right on Sydney Harbour.

Vivid Fire Kitchen at The Cutaway, a smoke and fire themed food adventure featured a line-up of street food vendors, restaurants and original dining concepts in Barangaroo attracting 190,000 people.

Firedoor and Gildas owner and chef Lennox Hastie said: “It was such a pleasure to be involved in the Vivid Sydney 2023 program with the inaugural Vivid Fire Kitchen.

“Our city really comes alive during these weeks, and it was a privilege to share a little slice of what we do at Firedoor and Gildas.”

Vivid Sydney also delivered strong returns for Harbour City businesses in Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, King Street Wharf, Barangaroo, Walsh Bay, The Rocks, East Circular Quay, West Circular Quay and the CBD over the 23 nights.  Restaurants across the festival footprint reported 81 per cent of attendees purchasing food and beverages – more diners than any Vivid Sydney festival to date.

Vivid Sydney Festival Director Gill Minervini said: “After COVID-19, we proudly raised the bar in 2022 growing the festival’s attendance by seven per cent. This year we surpassed those figures. I’m still pinching myself.

“Vivid Food has been the standout in 2023. More than 190,000 people checked out Vivid Fire Kitchen which is just incredible, with many of our Vivid Food events receiving rave reviews, selling out or achieving very high attendance.”

Hotels in the CBD also reported increased occupancy during the festival, with occupancy rates up 12 per cent overall compared to last year’s festival, lifting occupancy to 78 per cent across the CBD and 90 per cent on Friday and Saturday nights.

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO and interim Accommodation Association CEO Michael Johnson said: “The growing success of Vivid Sydney year upon year is a credit to the NSW Government, Destination NSW, the events team, and all in involved. The impact it has on the city of Sydney is unparalleled and to see our hotels at times reaching 90 per cent occupancy during Winter is a remarkable achievement.

“The implementation of new activations such as additional drone shows, and the new Vivid Food Pillar allowed our stunning city to shine brighter than ever before.

“Vivid Sydney is a magnificent event as it not only draws millions of people to the city but encourages them to spend the night in one of our many incredible hotels.

“I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to all who made this event possible. Your creativity, innovation and vision continues to light up the night sky.”

Minister for Jobs and Tourism John Graham said: “The preliminary Vivid Sydney attendance figures this year are extraordinary. Australia’s largest festival has grown by around 30 per cent. That’s an increase comparable to the population of the Gold Coast.

“Over the past three weeks the city has felt vibrant and electric. The program this year went from strength to strength. The new Vivid Food program was a huge success. The music program featured some iconic artists, including an important tribute to Archie Roach AC. The drone show captivated audiences young and old. And of course, the immortalising of John Olsen’s work on the Sydney Opera House Sails was a timely tribute, a meeting of two Australian icons.

“Sydneysiders and visitors relished the chance to enjoy our night-time economy and we showcased Sydney, at its finest, to the world.

“These figures show how popular Vivid Sydney is, how it captures imaginations and shares with visitors and Sydneysiders alike the best talent from our creative, entertainment and hospitality industries.”

Outdoor advertising data shows huge surge in CBD visitation

New data from QMS shows the number of people in the City of Sydney between 7pm and midnight was up 61% during the first three weekends of this year’s festival. The increase among people aged 30 to 50 was even higher, at 76%, with interstate visitors also jumping 109%, predominantly from Victoria, the ACT and Queensland.

QMS advertising packages that placed clients in key Vivid Sydney precincts during the festival saw audiences rise by 113% in the evenings across the three weekends, with Circular Quay assets seeing an increase of 215%.

QMS executive general manager Mark Fairhurst said: “We have seen some outstanding contextually relevant campaigns taking full advantage of the event themes and incremental audience to maximise their impact across our network.”

According to the Australia Consumer Pulse Report from CGA by NIQ the on premise provided a volume opportunity for festival and event attendees in June, with over half of consumers visiting or planning to visit a hospitality venue for these occasions, with the top occasions being the State of Origin series (24%), the Kings birthday long weekend (24%) and Vivid Sydney (19%).

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