The annual festival of lights, art and ideas sounds as good as it looks, as it reaches this year’s halfway point.

Sydney’s annual festival of light, art and ideas, Vivid, is well underway. As it reaches the halfway point of the 16-day event, many of this year’s exhilarating line-up of contemporary classical, pop, jazz and folk music acts have already delighted (and in one instance lulled to sleep) audiences across the city. Performances by New Order and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Esperanza Spalding, Max Richter and Hiatus Kaiyote have enjoyed excellent box office results and critical receptions.

British composer Max Richter’s SLEEP, billed as an “antidote to the pace of the modern world”, played with tremendous success to a sold-out drowsy crowd. In a world-first 8-hour live performance conducted by Richter, audience members falling asleep was actively encouraged. Tucked up in makeshift beds at the Sydney Opera House, the audience were invited to dream to the sound of the American Contemporary Musical Ensemble and soprano Grace Davidson. Receiving rave reviews, this was a rare opportunity to visit the iconic Sydney venue in your pyjamas.

Audiences members hunker down at the Sydney Opera House for Max Richter’s SLEEP

The Australian Chamber Orchestra joined English dance-rock band New Order, performing orchestrations by the British composer Joe Duddell of the group’s popular hits. The concert was highly regarded by critics, who called it “genuinely exciting”, thanks to the clever arrangements of Duddell and the superlative performance of the ACO.

Last week also offered up the new live set by Esperanza Spalding, who made her Australian debut in a highly stylised genre-bending art-pop performance. She also showcased the creative talents of Bon Iver, in a retrospective concert in a “campfire” setting.

Still to come is the highly acclaimed Wayne Shorter Quartet. Now 82, the American jazz visionary will perform the improvised solos he is renowned for, as well as dipping into his back catalogue of jazz favourites when he performs at the Opera House on June 13.

A view of the Sydney Opera House from the Royal Botanic Garden’s Cathedral of Light installation

Now in its eighth year, Vivid sees Sydney’s landmarks lit up with large scale light installations and dynamic projections. The Vivid Light walk, a free of charge interactive walk through Sydney’s prime locations, including the Sydney Opera House, The Rocks and Walsh Bay, this year features works by the Bangarra Dance Theatre and light artist Roger Foley. There are opportunities to climb a 10-metre high translucent tower, and places to learn about endangered animals from all over the world, outside Mosman’s Taronga Zoo. Light works extend into the Royal Botanic Garden, with one such collaboration, Cathedral of Light, featuring many tiny globes to create “single solid shape of bright light” that can be seen from a distance – looking like an illuminated vaulted church roof.