Once again Sydney was literally lit up, Friday, transformed into a living, gleaming, nocturnal art gallery for Australia's premier winter event, Vivid Sydney. Featuring some of the world's biggest names in lighting, technology and design, the Vivid Festival is a chance for Sydney to stake a claim among the world's great cities.
But the fifth Sydney Vivid Festival is more than just a spectacle of light and color -- this is the story of a city reintroducing itself to the world.
Andrew Stoner, the Deputy Premier of NSW told Xinhua that Sydney was seeking to energize itself as a creative, digital and commercial hub, deep in the creative heart of the Asia-Pacific.
"What Vivid Sydney does is use our city as a canvas and it paints that canvas with amazing images, lights, colors and it involves the visitors in doing that you can interact make buildings change, dance with buildings there's music involved. Its an amazing way to get acquainted with what I think is one of the greatest cities in the world Sydney," he said.
For 18 days, from 6 p.m. to midnight every night, sixty unique light installations will illuminate the Opera House and iconic buildings around Circular Quay and across the city, and visitors will also be able to choose the scene and color of the projection beamed along the western face of Sydney Harbor Bridge. The installation features 100,800 individual programmable LEDs and a state-of-the-art custom-designed software program.
But Vivid is about more than pretty lights, it's the statement of a city that wants its fun side to be taken seriously.
Sandra Chipchase is the chief executive of Destination New South Wales, a unique government body with a corporate mission to retell the story of Sydney to a growing global fan club.
"We are Australia's global city we are the creative services hub of Australia, we have more artists, poets, sculpters, writers, directors here and composers choreographers so it's the ideal forum for Sydney and Australia to showcase our creativity," Chipchase told Xinhua.
The Vivid festival now incorporates the Vivid Light Festival, Vivid Ideas festival and Vivid Music festival, every year drawing both crowds and industry leaders to a city seeking its place in the sun.
However, behind the spectacle is a series of digital conferences, meetings and events all harnessing the regional talents of hundreds of businesses stretching through China, into south east Asia, and, as the Deputy Premier told Xinhua, all coming to show their partnering potential, in Australia.
"There are so many spin-offs for our city it does give us international exposure it does bring in visitors not only from right around Australia but from right around the world, a whole host of industry events that hang off Vivid," Stoner said.
22-year-old Amrita Hepi from the city's inner east told Xinhua the festival was giving Sydneysiders a rare moment of civic pride.
"It's really, really amazing to be part of it and it's also really amazing to see the whole of the city lit up especially the north side -- it's a real connected feeling I suppose, it makes everybody come out together as a group so that's good to see," she said.
According to Robyn Lucas, editor of online magazine, My Society, the festival is now being used as a template for competing global cities to engage with a younger, outward bound international audience.
"It was an idea that started in Sydney and it's now being adopted around the world. Many cities around the world are adopting exactly the idea and I mean why wouldn't you -- its absolutely fabulous."
This year, an interactive lighting display made up of more than 100,000 portable LEDs allows visitors to control the color display on the harbor bridge.
And for the first time a display, masterminded by France's Aquatique Show, will light up Darling Harbour, with choreographed light and water shows and water screen projections.
More than 550,000 people were expected to attend Vivid Sydney this year, with arrivals from China making up a big part of those visitors.
With the iconic Opera House breathing with light and color, perhaps Sydney can be allowed to enjoy a narcissistic moment of reflection, a chance to really step into the light.