The Quintuplet cluster is one of the most massive star clusters in the Milky Way, situated very close to the Galactic center. We present a new search for variable stars in the vicinity of the cluster, using the five-year database of the Vista Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) ESO Public Survey in the near-infrared. A total of 7586 objects were identified in the zone around $2'$ from the cluster center, using 55 $K_S$-band epochs. Thirty-three stars show $K_S$-band variability, 24 of them being previously undiscovered. Most of the variable stars found are slow/semiregular variables, long-period variables of the Mira type, and OH/IR stars. In addition, a good number of our candidates show variations in a rather short timescale. We also propose four Young Stellar Object (YSO) candidates, which could be cluster members.