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Starting 24 May, Australia’s biggest city will transform into a dazzling canvas of art, tunes and colour for the 18-day creative arts festival Vivid Sydney.

With the whole festival structured into three categories ­– Light, Music and Ideas – Vivid Sydney Light will introduce luminous installations around the city, with the iconic Harbour Bridge as the dazzling centrepiece. And in a world-first, the public will be able to interact with the bridge’s display by creating a custom design that will be projected onto the bridge just seconds after being logged via a touch screen located outside Luna Park.

Additionally, the popular waterfront Darling Harbour precinct will be transformed into a spectacular exhibit of illuminated dancing water fountains, with light and water shows every night from 6 pm for the duration of the festival. Don’t miss the 20m-high light and water illuminated “Magic Wall”, designed as a recreation of the Versailles Fountain. And to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the BBC TV programme Dr Who, a light spectacular will be held on 1 June, where the grand facade of Circular Quay’s Customs House will showcase an array of 3D-mapped visual projections from the series.

As part of Vivid Live, the music component of the festival held at the Opera House, this year’s headliner German band Kraftwerk will perform their minimalistic electronic sound at twice-nightly shows from 24 to 27 May. “This will be a mind-melting journey through a catalogue whose tentacles reach into almost every area of popular music,” said Vivid Live festival director Fergus Linehan. He also recommended seeing the orchestral tribute to the Blade Runner soundtrack by the UK’s Heritage Orchestra on 26 May, which will have “almost 50 musicians on stage – and a few surprises”. Other exciting musical shows include indigenous Australian musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu performing in a world-first collaboration with the Sydney Symphony on 28 and 29 May, and Australia’s very own electro-glam duo Empire of the Sun premiering selected tracks from their not-yet-released album on 30 and 31 May.

Held at different locations throughout Sydney, Vivid Ideas will showcase more than 150 creative events, including talks, debates and panel discussions. Highlights include The Incredibly Short Film Festival on 31 May (each of the 30-second GIF or animated loop films are sourced from artists, animators and illustrators from around the globe) and The Making of a Blockbuster Game on 4 June (US game designer Ricky Cambier will take gaming enthusiasts behind the scenes on making and marketing a smash hit).

Vivid Sydney runs until 10 June and is the biggest festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Tickets for ticketed events are available online.

Tatyana Leonov is the Sydney Localite for BBC Travel 

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