SYDNEY IS SET FOR ITS BIGGEST NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY IN DECADES WITH EIGHT TONNES OF FIREWORKS TO LIGHT UP THE NIGHT SKY.
From New York’s Times Square to Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate; from the beaches of Rio to Hong Kong Harbour. In anyone’s language, New Year’s Eve is a big deal.
Epic fireworks displays, all-night dance parties and a seemingly endless booze-up can make for a memorable (or sometimes forgettable) night no matter which corner of the world you’re in.
But few places seem to put on a party quite like Sydney.
The City of Sydney spends around $7 million ($US5.3 million) on the New Year’s Eve spectacular, with an estimated $133 million ($US102 million) injected back into the local economy on the night.
Helping to swell the crowd are the throngs of interstate and overseas travellers who converge on the Harbour city specifically for the New Year’s Eve spectacular. In 2015, for instance, research showed around 46 per cent of visitors were from overseas.
There’s no doubt Sydney is a major drawcard for people around the world because it’s the first major city to welcome in the New Year.
It’s also one of the few cities that has two major fireworks displays – one at 9pm and another major show when the clock strikes midnight.
This year eight tonnes of fireworks, 13,000 shells and 30,000 shooting comets will mark the arrival of 2018. In total, more than 100,000 individual pyrotechnic effects will be light up the night sky in Sydney.
A highlight will be a rainbow waterfall cascading from the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge – celebrating Australia’s recent vote in favour of marriage equality for gays and lesbians. 2018 also marks the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.
But there’s more to New Year’s Eve in the Harbour City than just the fireworks. The city is in party mode from late afternoon, starting with aerial acrobatics and a fly over by RAAF aircraft.
As day turns to dusk, a flotilla of more than 50 illuminated boats glides up the Harbour as part of the Harbour of Light Parade.
A ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony will also pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their heritage and culture.
During the five-minute ceremony, eucalyptus smoke is released over the water, cleansing Sydney Harbour of any bad spirits. Flares are released and spectacular images on the pylons celebrate Eora country.
If you’re in town on the night, be sure to tune in to KIIS 106.5 FM for a simulcast of the official soundtrack during the 9pm and midnight fireworks.
You might even want to spend the night on an exclusive island in the middle of the harbour. The iconic Shark Island will have a DJ, a licensed bar and a tonne of food options as you count down to midnight. It’s not cheap though, with adult tickets costing $247.23 and children $175.
But there are free sites up and down the Harbour foreshore where you can enjoy the night without the huge crowds and expensive entry prices – if you can reach them.
That’s because major road closures and special event clearways are in force around the city centre, North Sydney, the lower North Shore and the Harbour foreshore around the eastern suburbs from early afternoon on December 31.
The key is to use public transport and arrive early to claim your spot.
Here are some of the best locations around Sydney Harbour to view the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Viewing spots around Cockle Bay are prized locations and this year will be no exception with more than 40,000 people expected to converge on the Harbourside precinct west of the CBD.
With a free program of live music and flame and light shows every hour from 7pm, as well as the famous 9pm and Midnight fireworks, Cockle Bay at Darling Harbour will be heaving. Restaurants and bars along the Cockle Bay promenade will be open on New Year’s Eve, but booking are a must.
If you’d like a family-friendly, grassed area with full views of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and the CBD, then it’s hard to beat Mrs Macquarie’s Chair near the Domain.
This area is a non-ticketed public viewing area, but there is usually a gold coin donation request before you enter. This site has food and licensed beverages available, with visitors also welcome to pack a picnic.
Because it offers a bird’s eye view of the Harbour, expect space to snapped up early.
McMahons Point, Blues Point Reserve and Lavender Bay – west of the Harbour Bridge on the lower North Shore – are ideal spots to catch all the New Year’s Eve action.
These locations are some of the best in Sydney and they fill up fast, so get there early to secure your spot.
Bradfield Park, under the northern span of the Harbour Bridge at Milson’s Point, is ideal for families and groups to sprawl on the grass and watch the fireworks light up the night sky.
Because it’s virtually within sneezing distance of the Bridge, expect this free vantage point to be bursting at the seams as early as 10am on New Year’s Eve.
On Sydney’s lower North Shore, Kurraba Point and Cremorne Point (pictured) are prime locations to catch the fireworks and enjoy the early evening entertainment.
The parks in these residential neighbourhoods fill up fast – and they’re alcohol free zones – so get there early. Most streets are closed to non-residents from early afternoon so be prepared to walk.
Each of these eastern suburbs harbourside parks offer only limited views of the Harbour Bridge and the city.
You might see some occasional fireworks from barges positioned at this end of the harbour. These parks are perfect for families trying to avoid the maddening crowds around Circular Quay.
Perfect for anyone who is looking to get as far away from the CBD as possible while still enjoying a decent view of the fireworks.
Right in the centre of Watsons Bay, Robertson Park is a great place to picnic with playground facilities and harbour and city views.
The iconic Doyle’s Watsons Bay is taking bookings for New Year’s Eve dinner and the Watsons Bay Hotel is hosting a ticketed beachside party.
Where to See the NYE Fireworks