Vivid Sydney attendees vent concerns over 'disaster waiting to happen'

One man said he 'saw lots of groups with small kids and prams pretty much stuck in the crowd' at the event on Saturday night.

Video footage stills of the heaving crowds at Vivid Sydney on Saturday night, sparking safety concerns among attendees.
Shocking video footage has captured the moment Vivid Sydney festival goers say they became 'trapped' in heaving crowds in Circular Quay. Source: X/Nick McLaren

Vivid Sydney attendees have shared their concern the festival has become “a bit too popular” after video footage emerged of heaving crowds trying to move through Circular Quay. Numerous revellers took to social media over the weekend to express their concerns about safety, with some claiming they were left “trapped” following the event’s drone show.

A clip posted by ABC journalist Nick McLaren just after 10pm on Saturday shows what appears to be tens of thousands of people tightly packed within barriers as they shuffle back to the train station. “Saw lots of groups with small kids and prams pretty much stuck in the crowd, moving very, very slowly,” he posted to X.

He further noted it was “weird” how organisers had “fenced off the whole of Circular Quay ferry terminal and railway station from the north and west, creating this build up”.

Another online post said that amid fears of the chance of a crowd crush, someone stepped in to remove some barriers to allow the festival goers to start flowing.

One attendee, Anth, said that “there was a crowd crush starting to happen by the overseas passenger terminal” after the 9.10pm drone show finished. “Police had to step in to remove barriers because of how serious it was,” he wrote, describing the scenes as “absolutely dangerous”.

Huge crowd of people at Vivid Sydney on Saturday night.
Vivid attendees said police were forced to move some of the barriers to give members of the crowd a chance to break free. Source: X/Anth0888

Another man, Josh Rogers, said he had “never” been so scared in his life after getting trapped in the middle of the crowd. “Everyone pushing from all sides with no escape,” he said.

Attendee Emilie said she regretted even going to Vivid. “A huge crush saved by a random opening a barrier,” she wrote online. “Bloody lucky no one panicked. The worst crowd control.”

A third person described it as a “disaster waiting to happen”.

However, others argued Vivid has always attracted throngs of people. “It’s been like that most years on weekends…nightmare,” one woman said.

“It happens every year and yet no lessons are leant?” another said, claiming the city’s trains reached at capacity on Saturday night. “Why does this happen? Shall I send you a reminder in 2025?”

The reported crowd concerns came shortly after event organisers urged festival goers to avoid Circular Quay. “We are experiencing large crowds for the #vividsydney drone show this evening,” Vivid Sydney posted on social media around 8.30pm.

“Please avoid Circular Quay. The show will also be live streamed at Tumbalong Park in Darling Harbour on the big screen and on the Vivid Sydney Facebook page.”

A Vivid Sydney spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia on Sunday the event is “incredibly popular” and “in its 14th year is again attracting crowds of all ages”. In particular, the drone shows — which are held over three nights and screened throughout the festival and online — draw large crowds, they said.

“Vivid Sydney organisers work with government partners and agencies to plan and deliver a successful and safe event, including to manage the crowds that turned out to see last night's drone show,” the spokesperson continued.

“Event and security personnel monitor crowd flow and implement scalable measures to manage crowd flow at various points if required, particularly on the busy nights and peak periods. This includes advising visitors that certain areas have reached capacity and adjusting infrastructure to support crowd flow.”

Vivid attendees are encouraged to plan for their visit by keeping an eye on the festival’s social media channels.

“We understand that a large number of people leaving a major event at the same time can be slow and challenging and are grateful to the public for their patience and cooperation,” the spokesperson told Yahoo.

NSW Police confirmed to Yahoo “larger than expected attendees” on Saturday night “resulted in pedestrian traffic congestion, particularly in and around the transport hubs”.

“However, the crowds dispersed after a short period and there were no injuries or incidents reported,” a police spokesperson said. “NSW Police continue to conduct a highly visible and coordinated policing response to this year’s Vivid event.”

With NCA NewsWire

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