Vivid Sydney slammed for 'ridiculous' detail costing families: 'Rip off'

The once free event has changed this year leaving many visitors less than excited.

Spectators visiting the Vivid light show at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney over the weekend were shocked to discover the once free event now costs up to $132 for a family of four.

For the first time, attendees hoping to see the spectacular light display will be charged an entry fee at the iconic harbour location in a move some critics have branded "disappointing" and "ridiculous".

It's the first year the gardens have been home to the "internationally acclaimed" Lightscape exhibition which has appeared in other cities, including Melbourne. It features "glowing tree canopies filled with colour" and "larger-than-life flowers" but this year, it comes at a cost.

The public will no longer have access to exhibitions like this for free at the Botanic Gardens during Vivid and are expected to fork out as much as $44 per adult. Kids 12 and under will be charged as much as $32 with a family of four being charged up to $132.

Lights in Royal Botanic Garden and on Harbour Bridge during Vivid Sydney.
Vivid Sydney kicked off over the weekend. Source: Getty

Steep costs of Vivid exhibition leave visitors 'cranky'

Sydneysiders have slammed the steep entry prices to the gardens, which is one of three paid exhibitions this year. Others include the light show at Taronga Zoo and a new installation at Wydnard station.

One visitor admitted people were "very cranky" when they arrived at the gardens on the weekend to discover they'd have to pay to enter, even suggesting Vivid organisers "tricked" visitors who expressed surprise over the entry fees.

"When everyone gets to Vivid but this year they charge $116 to go in and look at the lights. Everyone is so cranky," Sonny-Joe Flanagan mocked in a video on TikTok.

Echoing his sentiments, one woman said it was "so disappointing" to see the family event now cost so much. "Vivid is supposed to be an event for everyone to enjoy and for a chance to have families enjoy a night out that would be so costly," she vented.

Sydney mayor and MP slam ticket decision

Others agreed the price was "so expensive" with some calling prices a "rip off", particularly as Aussies continue to battle with growing cost of living pressures.

Among the critics was Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore who said the decision to charge was "mean" and could hurt the hip pocket of many struggling families.

"I would call upon the Botanic Gardens not to charge," Moore said earlier this month. It's understood that element of the event is organised by the state government agency Destination NSW.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich called on the government to step in claiming the ticketed event was an "unnecessary commercialisation of a public asset", the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Vivid Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens prices.
Visitors were shocked to discover that families would have to pay for entry into the Royal Botanic Gardens light display. Source: TikTok

"Clearly, Sydneysiders feel it is ridiculous for them to have to pay to have access to public land, that their tax dollars fund, and for an event that has always been free," he said. "This can’t be done again. This attempt has been a failure, and free tickets should now be issued to fill up the event and bring people into the city to support local businesses.”

Premier Chris Minns agreed it could be "a big hit" for families, but said it was a decision made during the previous government's time in office.

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Vivid Sydney and Destination NSW for comment.

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