Bucket List, am I right? Is there anyone out there who doesn’t want to see New Years Eve in Sydney? Over 1 billion people globally tune in to watch the magnificent event live, and 1.5 million people are lucky enough to be able to be in Australia’s most iconic city for it.
It might seem like a lot of stress, all this planning and just the thought of the crowds is enough to make your head spin. That’s why I’m here to help you out.
I promise you that once that first firework shoots into the air and explodes over the Sydney Opera House, you’ll forget all about the “stress”.
To Pay, Or Not To Pay?
This will be your biggest decision. You’ve already forked out a sh*t ton of money (probably) getting all the way to Sydney so why would you cheap on it now?
I can see both sides. I opted for the freebie location down at The Rocks and had the best time of my life. But if you want to have an absolute mind-blending experience, propose to someone, take an epic selfie, whatever, you can pay $335 AUD to be in the Royal Botanic Garden (the location on most of the postcards you’ve just bought). I think it’s even more (around $600) at Circular Quay / The Opera House. I mean, it’s an insane amount of money, but I get it.
Like I just said, I was at Campbell Cove at The Rocks for NYE. For those of you who don’t know Sydney, that’s closer to Harbour Bridge than the Opera House. You get a great view of the bridge exploding (trust me, that’s the best description!), but you won’t get a photo with both of these iconic landmarks together. You can however, get a photo of the Opera House with the fireworks if you can make your way to the front of the crowd and look right.
A lot of hotels and restaurants advertise New Years Eve parties with live music, dinner and a view. I can’t tell you much about them but one I really wouldn’t recommend is Waterfront Restaurant at Circular Quay West. I can guarantee this as the ground floor dining and outdoor seating was directly behind us at Campbells Cove. The view was completely obstructed by spectators who got in for free and the unfortunate folks inside paid at least $60 (probably more).
https://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/vantage-points/ Create a shortcut for your new best friend.
The official website for Sydney’s New Years Eve is super helpful, but it exaggerates a bit. They don’t want you to miss out so they worry you a little. It tells you the maximum capacity of people each vantage point can hold and what time you should aim to arrive. It told us to be there at approximately 9am! I was so terrified of missing my big chance but luckily we worked out that was a bit extreme. We got to The Rocks at 11am… Us and about 20 other tourists. It was a ghost town!
So I know they mean well and don’t want people upset because they got there late and were turned away (which they have no problem doing, by the way!), but you don’t need to be there too early. Especially in that level of heat!
Be sure to bring plenty of supplies because every time you need to leave your vantage point you get a strict deadline in which you have to return by or else you’ve lost your place and you might not get in again. 15 minutes might sound like plenty of time to go out and buy some water but the queues in those areas are mental. Also, they have an announcement every 5 minutes telling you about bag checks and that there’s no alcohol allowed – but I saw people with it so it’s up to you.
Warning: In the summer, temperatures can (will!) soar as high as 40+º C / 104+º F so please wear high factor sunscreen, a hat and stay hydrated!
There’s not a whole lot of entertainment during the daytime so please bear that in mind (especially if you have kids).
There’s a mini air show with a couple of planes dipping and diving around the sky.
The tug boat “display”. Don’t feel bad about missing this one, seriously. It’s literally a tug boat spraying water for a few minutes. If you need to pee, go now.
Welcome To The Country and Smoking Ceremony.
If you’re not Aussie, this is different so for that reason alone you should try and see it. It’s a ritual performed to highlight the cultural significance of Aboriginal societies to the area. The welcome must be performed by a recognised elder of the group. They do it at a lot of government events in Australia, especially ones held in New South Wales.
Another air show.
Family Firework Display.
I’ll be honest, I thought this was going to be kind of crappy warm-up display for the kids. It was brilliant! It was then I started wondering how spectacular the midnight fireworks would have to be to beat it…
Harbour of Light Parade
Ships covered in colourful lights travel around the harbour. It’s a nice way to ground yourself after the awesome fireworks you just saw! Take it in!
The moment you’ve all been waiting for. Prepare to have your mind f**king blown! They outdo themselves every year so even watching previous years online won’t prepare you!
This is it. The reason you came to Aus this year. The reason you spent so much money on flights and accommodation (especially accommodation!).
It will not let you down.
As the countdown begins your heart begins to race. You’re practically having palpitations for the last 10 seconds. The whole of Sydney unites and becomes one, every single person cheering. The city explodes. The Harbour Bridge bursts into the brightest, whitest flame you’ve ever seen. A waterfall of molten lava pours into the water below. The sky is bombarded with pinks, greens, blues and every other colour that exists. And when you think there can’t possibly be any more, they defy all logic and more rockets whistle and burst right in front of your eyes. 10 minutes later you’re left with the settling smoke, the bridge completely out of sight. Did it blow up? It seems likely! But it slowly reemerges again and you can relax. Only you can’t relax, because you’re totally pumped! You want to cry, you want to laugh, you want to scream, but you just stand there, never wanting this moment to end.
And every year after you’ll want to be there again. <3