The festival gets bigger every year, and this year there are light installations at Circular Quay/The Rocks, Walsh Bay, Darling Harbour, Martin Place, Sydney Uni (tonight through Sunday only), Central Park (Broadway) and Chatswood. It would take several nights to see it all.
Opening night on Friday had some average weather. I had tix to Squarepusher and saw the Martin Place and East Circular Quay lights en route. After the concert went to the pop-up Deep Purple Pool Bar at the Harbour end of the Concert Hall Foyer - enter up the back stairs.
I saw Central Park on Saturday night; not amazing so you could easily give that a miss. Not a lot there.
Last night I checked out West Circular Quay and the Rocks.
Lighting of the sails this year is co-ordinated by UK outfit Universal Everything. Personally I think it's the weakest effort yet. The animators got the job on the basis of their spellbinding and technically accomplished work The Transcfogiraton but the sails bear no resemblance to that work - mostly because they asked a bunch of different animators to do 30 second hand-drawn animations that have all been cobbled together into one presentation which is not particularly coherent or clever. Most of the works do not pay any acknowledgement to the design of the Opera House at all, and in fact it is often used as a dark canvas for items to bob around, giving no sense of the shape of the building which in my view is very disappointing. I am also not a fan of the general animation style but each to their own; I know some people like this lo-fi look.
As well as controlling the lighting on the West side of the Harbour Bridge from the control box near Luna Park, the public can also control the lighting on the Circular Quay buildings from a control box outside the MCA/Cruise Bar.
The large projections on Customs House and the MCA are also not that amazing this year. The Customs House one is mostly fantastical garden scenes etc which do not respond that much to the architecture. The MCA one is based on the work Mechanical Colour Assemblage and is a bit more building-specific but does not reach the heights of some of the earlier works. However they are colourful and bright and likely to have broad family appeal.
There are plenty of interactive works, although many of them attract large queues for participants.
My list of some smaller-scale, more subtle gems:
* Hidden Galaxy (No 47, Millers Pt) - not an original idea but an effective one, with strings of lights inside a mirrored shipping container creating an infinity box of light that you can walk through.
* Tidal Reed Garden (No 42, Campbells Cove) - Illuminated perspex reeds bob in the harbour.
* Submerged (No 40, Campbells Cove) - Very simple, just a set of lights providing an eerie glow under a pier.
* Ordered Chaos (No 32, The Rocks) - a grid of glowing tubes provides a backdrop to the social courtyard near the Argyle Centre.
* The Dresses (No 31, The Rocks) - Finely woven dresses of optical fibre glow mysteriously in a dark alley.