Sharks swimming across skyscrapers, giant glowing orbs in the middle of the footpath, and neon splashes across the Sydney Opera House.

This year's Vivid Festival has Sydney sparkling more than ever, with 57 separate installations on buildings, in parks and footpaths across the city's waterfront and surrounding streets.

Even the ferries scooting across Sydney's Harbour are lit up this year.

Like moths drawn to a flame, record numbers around the one million mark are expected to attend the three-week event, which is now into its sixth year of mixing light and art with music and cultural - they call them "ideas" - events.


This year's attractions range from headlining acts The Pixies, Lauryn Hill, St Vincent, Midlake and the Pet Shop Boys, through to videogame discussion panels, art installations, literary events and more.

But it's the luminous installations lit up around Sydney Harbour - several supplied by Kiwi artists - that are the main attraction, and this year seems to be one that's designed for the whole family to enjoy.

On Friday's opening night, children could be seen brandishing neon light sabres, wearing sunglasses adorned with lights and flashing fake mohawks while taking in the gigantic moving mosaic splashed across the front of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

They were also found engaging with many of the interactive touch panel installations, like
the Geo Dome, an orb made up out of neon bulbs that can be manipulated with a touch pad. Or e/Mergence, a rock set up in Martin Place that maps users' faces onto its surface.

Clapiconia allows users to create their own display using simple hand claps. The Pool is a display of large circular panels that light up when jumped on. Even the lights adorning the Sydney Harbour Bridge can be manipulated via a touch pad set up in Luna Park.

And don't forget Darling Harbour's Aquatique, a symphony water display set to music that runs every hour on the hour from 6pm.

Like the rest of Vivid's attractions this year, it's bigger, better, and - thanks to Saturday night's promised fireworks - louder than last year.

Getting there: Between Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Emirates and Qantas there are up to a dozen daily flights to Sydney from Auckland.

Further information: The Vivid Festival takes place in Sydney, across various venues, from May 23 to June 9.

The Herald travelled to Vivid Sydney courtesy of Qantas and Destination New South Wales.