New Year’s Eve is Sydney’s biggest night of the year. It’s an occasion when the city throws a party like no other. More than a billion people around the world tune in to watch the spectacular midnight display atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but nothing compares with seeing it for yourself. Each year, more than a million people make their way into the city for the celebrations, so it does require some planning.
There are more than 50 recommended vantage points for viewing the fireworks. Some, such as Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Mrs Macquarie’s Point, Rose Bay foreshore and The Rocks, are free. Not surprisingly, they fill up fast. Other locations, such as Barangaroo Reserve and Hickson Road Reserve in The Rocks, are ticketed.
By choosing your accommodation carefully, you might be able to view the spectacle without leaving your hotel. If that’s out of your price range, you could pull up stumps just a short walk from where the action happens, sparing the inconvenience of public transport on this night of nights.
Here are our insider tips for making your New Year’s Eve in Sydney shine.
Without a doubt, one of the best views of the fireworks will be from the Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour, a cool new hotel where Manhattan design chic meets Sydney style. Make your way to Above 319, the hotel’s stylish rooftop bar, to enjoy a cocktail as the sun sets. Linger for stellar views of the fireworks and a Champagne toast to the New Year. Then after all the partying, kick back and relax the next day around the rooftop pool.
Image credit: @love.christina.xo
Adina Apartment Hotel Darling Harbour on King Street Wharf also offers an unbeatable harbourside experience. Not only is it smack bang in the middle of one of Sydney’s entertainment hot spots, it’s the closest hotel to fireworks vantage points at Barangaroo and is perfectly located for Darling Harbour, a popular destination for families.
It’s location, location, location too at Rendezvous Hotel Sydney The Rocks, in a colourful, historic precinct just a short stroll from the Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay. Nearby Observatory Hill has elevated views of the western side of the bridge.
Evening activities on the harbour begin at 7pm with a fire tug water display, followed by a Welcome to Country from Gadigal Elders. At 8pm, flying ace Matt Hall will thrill the crowd with an aerial display, and from 8.30pm there’ll be dazzling lighting effects and projections on the pylons of the Harbour Bridge.
Travelling with a brood won’t dampen the excitement, as littlies who can’t stay awake for the midnight fireworks will be able to catch the earlier fireworks at 9pm. For an experience the whole family can enjoy, the Royal Botanic Garden will host the circus-themed Harbour Hoopla, with carnival games, circus performers and music keeping everyone entertained until midnight.
One of the absolute highlights of New Year’s Eve is the 9.15pm Harbour of Light Parade, when Sydney Harbour is illuminated with vessels gliding across the water, each one decorated with lights that change colour so they look like they are dancing. But it’s at midnight when the real action happens, with spectacular pyrotechnic effects launched from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and barges in the harbour.
The rooftop of Vibe Hotel Rushcutters Bay, on the cusp of Sydney’s eastern suburbs, offers prime viewing and you can also enjoy a family-friendly BBQ celebration there from 6pm to 9.30pm with gourmet hot dogs, burgers and a drinks package. And, if'ts just as handy come New Year's Day when the recovery happens.
For those travelling on a budget, Travelodge Sydney and Travelodge Wynyard are refreshingly simple hotels that are conveniently located for experiencing the free New Year’s Eve activities. Travelodge Sydney is on the edge of the CBD, while Travelodge Wynyard is a short walk from Circular Quay, Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
If you’re looking for somewhere surrounded by foodie action, Vibe Hotel Sydney is close to restaurants on Oxford Street but still within walking distance of Darling Harbour, while Adina Apartment Hotel Surry Hills is perfectly located for you to enjoy dinner and revelry without having to stumble too far back to your hotel and their two terraced apartments would be epic for New Year's. It’s on Crown Street, surrounded by vibrant eateries, boutique shopping and nightlife, but still only a half hour walk to Darling Harbour.
From the harbour to the dance floor, harbour cruises to memorable dining experiences, soirees and parties to free family events, Sydney has whatever kind of countdown you are looking for to ring in 2020.
**This year The City of Sydney will donate money to various bushfire relief charities and encourage revellers to support the Australian Red Cross appeal to help NSW victims of recent bushfires and the ongoing drought.**