It's taken just a few years, but by this time next week, Sydney will be in the full grip of a light, sound, art and ideas festival that has changed the winter landscape of this summer city as the extraordinary success of the Vivid Sydney festival returns for the sixth time. "It's Christmas without the reindeer, a holiday in the city. Everything is a surprise and nothing is unusual," said long-time Vivid aficionado and publisher Ellen Armstrong from Crows Nest, suburban Sydney. "The festival has changed the way Sydney lives its winter." Next Friday, the city will knock off early, crowds will pour out of Sydney's office towers and a stream of suits and families will jostle their way down to Circular Quay to watch the iconic Sydney Opera House sails illuminate to mark the beginning of Vivid Sydney. Like a contagious idea, Vivid has just kept expanding, infecting every nook and cranny of a city famed for its summer vibe, but with winter temperatures this season hovering around 24 degrees Celsius, there is an added tingle to the festival that aims to touch all six senses at once. Conceived in secret by the brains trust of Destination New South Wales (DNSW), an autonomous arm of the state government with broad-ranging powers and a commercial agility to attract visitors to Sydney's quiet winter months, few people could have imagined the global adoration and commercial success Vivid has enjoyed in its short life. Last year's festival attracted more than 800,000 people, with numbers expected to double in the coming years. The city harbor foreshore is bedazzled in a cascade lined of light sculptures, and some of the world's most innovative artists, thinkers and musicians descend on the Sydney Opera House, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and almost every cafe and corner of the CBD. Reaping millions of dollars for the dry state coffers, 2014 has organizers expecting massive numbers of visitors, both local and international, as the festival expands its footprint to the Basement, Seymour Center, Carriage-works and the CBD's Martin Place. From May 23 to June 9, the Sydney harbor bridge (BridgeClimb) is inviting Vivid Sydney fans to climb above the crowds and experience the first ever interactive light installation at the top of the ever-iconic Harbor Bridge. This year, the climbers on The Vivid Climb will become the " heartbeat" of the Bridge, where the rhythm of each climber's heart illuminates the top of the Bridge. BridgeClimb CEO Todd Coates told Xinhua: "The Vivid Climb offers a first ever experience for climbers a chance to be a truly interactive part of Vivid Sydney. Our Vivid climbers will also enjoy uninterrupted views of the stunning sights of the Vivid Sydney festival below." According to Coates, the climbers themselves will become a part of the festival - interactivity being at the core of the festival' s success - wearing special Vivid Climb vests fitted with flashing lights. Climb groups will be seen scaling the iconic arches by Vivid Sydney visitors from below in Circular Quay and Darling Harbor. With a climb in Mandarin - catering for the popularity of the event with Chinese visitors - departing at 5 p.m. each night, the festival has achieved the international feel it might only have imagined just five years earlier. The Vivacious director of Vivid IDEAS, Jess Scully, told Xinhua that interactivity has set Vivid apart from every other festival in the world. "Its the difference between TV and the Internet. I go to other festivals as an audience member. Vivid is something I go to as a participant." She said Vivid IDEAS events are about absorbing skills that can be applied to the everyday. "It's about applied innovation and creativity." Beyond the festival's flagship light installations at Darling Harbor, Customs House, the MCA and the Opera House, there is a buzz this year about Martin Place making its Vivid debut, with a " laser tour de force" transforming the grey heart of Sydney's CBD. Martin Place also features "eMERGEnce," in which a webcam maps facial expressions onto a three-dimensional, two-meter sculptured head. Something VIVID Director Ignatius Jones has referred to as "the ultimate selfie." Likewise, one of the minds behind the magic, CEO of DNSW Sandra Chipchase, describes Vivid as the ultimate event. "I think everyone knows Vivid Light... and you've got Vivid Music at Carriageworks and the Opera House, but we also have the Vivid Ideas exchange. And that's really about the business of being creative." "The spectacular lights (are) only one part of a vast program spanning more than 200 events." "Its a kind of magic." Vivid begins with the lighting of the Opera House on May 23 and runs through June 9.