From food to moth flocks: What rocked Vivid 2024, and who?

With Vivid 2024 officially over, Meltwater's VP ANZ and SEA, Ross Candido, shares some key findings from the festival of lights.

They say that pictures speak louder than words. If that is the case, the most talked-about moment of Vivid (other than the chatter about crowd management for the Sunday drone show) was, perhaps surprisingly, not the lights but the food, with Vivid Fire Kitchen serving up some of the festival’s most engaging content

A mesmerising performance by avant-garde pop artist Arca at the Sydney Opera House was the second top topic, with her multidisciplinary spectacle for Vivid LIVE setting social media ablaze with photos and videos.

And intriguingly the third most highly engaged with image has wings – literally with Dr. Joe Gresham, a local entomologist, gaining fame thanks to his noting an unusually large migration of moths to this year’s festival, which added an unexpected twist to Vivid’s vibrant atmosphere. 

Aside from the mesmerising imagery shared far and wide, some of the most valuable insights, particularly for marketers and event organisers, is exactly who was most interested and engaged from a demographic perspective. 

Overall, the data from thousands of social media conversations across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Twitch and Chinese social channels WeChat, Douyin and Red throughout the festival showed far greater online engagement from men (64%) to women (36%). Gen Z (18-24 year olds) made up most of the chatter, with 74% of the posts in the opening week. Millennials, particularly at the younger end of the age range, contributed just under a fifth (15%) of posts, a marked decrease from Vivid 2023, when 25-34 year olds made up half the posts. Baby Boomers were the least engaged. 

As far as the light shows go, social comments suggest ‘Lighting of the Sail’ was the standout installation for Vivid, while ‘Love is in the Air’ and ‘Dark Spectrum’, were second and third favourites, followed by ‘Global Rainbow’ and ‘Lightscape’.   

Overall it was pleasing to see a generally positive sentiment for Vivid with it hovering around 50% over the duration, but social media chatter over the three and a half weeks did provide some early warning signs about the more challenging aspects of Vivid, with notable shifts around areas such as queue times.

Analysis reveals that initially, negative sentiment was minimal at 3% in this area. It then spiked on the second Sunday to 10%, doubling to 23.8% the next day, stabilising thereafter. A similar trend was observed for the Love is in the Air drone show sentiment. 

The data also showed that despite some criticism of paid events at a festival known for its accessible nature, the ticketed experiences generated considerable positive social media engagement. In particular, the family-friendly displays at the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Dark Spectrum exhibit stood out, as did the opening night fireworks over the Opera House. 

For the organisers and sponsors of the event, this real-time snapshot of consumer data provides invaluable insights for future planning, allowing them to see what’s working and where improvements are needed – even on the fly. 

Knowledge is, after all, power, so increasingly brands involved in these large-scale events want to ensure concerns are proactively addressed so customer experience can be enhanced.  It’s all about protecting the brand and converting consumers into advocates who very much want to come back next year.   

Ross Candido is VP ANZ and SEA at Meltwater.


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