Sydney clocks in the new year a little sooner than the rest of the world, so it is only understandable that it's as grand as ever. Pulling over a million year on year, Sydney's New Year Eve celebrations are a sight behold. All the worlds cameras are focussed on the harbour as the city's sky bursts into a dramatic outburst of pyrotechnic displays. While the firework displays are undoubtedly the highlight, there's a lot more to do in Sydney on new year's eve. Here are our top picks on how you should welcome the new year!
New Year Eve in Sydney - What's the Hype?
The much talked about Sydney New Year Eve is definitely worth all the hype it gets. From camping under the stars to circus-themed bonanzas, the annual Taronga Zoo party and Harbour of Light Parade; this city gives you aplenty to welcome the new year in any style you'd like.
Most festivities start in the morning and end well after midnight, a chance for you to spend the whole day anticipating the new year doing a whole bunch of fun things.
How Can I Have a COVID-Safe New Year's Eve in Sydney?
Due to the pandemic, the NSW Government has taken a number of measures to ensure the safety of those who want to celebrate NYE in Sydney:
First off, there will be no fireworks display and activities at 9 PM this year. Instead, there will be a live broadcast on ABC TV at midnight of a short fireworks display on Sydney’s Harbour Bridge.
Two zones will be set up this year around Sydney Harbour at 5 PM on December 31:
- Green Zone: Those entering the Green Zone will require a New Year’s Eve Pass, which will be checked upon entry into the zone. This area is only open to those that live within the zone and their guests, those with confirmed bookings at venues within the zone, and workers within the zone. You can check the addresses under the Green Zone here and get your New Year's Eve Pass here.
- Yellow Zone: This will be established around the Green Zone. While entry is not restricted to just visitors and/or residents, those in large groups may be asked to move on. Certain parts of this area will not be open, such as North Sydney, Bradfield Park, Blues Point Reserve, Mary Booth Reserve, Quibaree Park, Kurraba Reserve, and Cremorne Reserve.
Here is a map of the Yellow and Green zones in Sydney:
While we love the New Years Eve Sydney Cruise, we'll let you choose your pick from our list of top things to do on Sydney New Year's eve.
Top Five Ways To Spend New Years Eve in Sydney
1. Sydney New Year Harbour Cruise
The absolute best way to welcome the New Year, a Sydney New Year Harbour Cruise is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. All cruises dock at an obstruction-free viewpoint for the first show of NYE fireworks after which they complete the 15 KM circuit of the harbour, making sure you're back at a panoramic angle for the midnight extravaganza. Sydney New Year Harbour Cruise cost anything between AU$300 and AU$1100 per person, most cruises inclusive of a lavish dinner spread, entertainment on-board and free flowing alcohol!Here are some more Sydney Harbour NYE Cruises to pick from.
Popular New Year Harbour Cruises in Sydney
2. Opera Gala at the Sydney Opera House
Normally, one would head to Sydney Opera House to see either of the two NYE special musical pieces at the Sydney Opera House - the Opera Gala & La Boheme. However, this year, things are a little different. To celebrate at the Sydney Opera House, one has to have dinner reservations at either Bennelong or Opera Bar. As Sydney Opera House is within the green Zone, visitors will need the New Year's Eve Pass to get through. Do note that this year, the vantage point is only open to frontline workers who served in the pandemic and bushfires.
Read all about celebrating a COVID-safe New Year's Eve in Sydney this December.
3. Dinner at the Royal Botanical Garden
Normally, one can together a scrumptious picnic and head over to the Royal Botanical Garden for a exciting evening among 160-acres of lush green surroundings. The Royal Botanical Gardens have a ticketed (for members of Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens only) and non-ticketed space featuring several night long celebrations and events.
The free public viewing area inside the Royal Botanical Garden is at Mrs Macquaries Point. However, this year, the NSW Government has designated vantage points specifically for frontline workers to thank them for their service this year. To that end, Mrs Macquaries Point will be reserved for frontline workers who served through the bushfire and the pandemic. Should you still want to spend NYE at Royal Botanical Garden, restaurants based in the Garden will be offering dinner reservations for December 31.
Read all about spending New Year's Eve at the Royal Botanical Garden.
4. A Wild NYE at the Taronga Zoo
Sign up for a wild welcome to this New Year, adding to the fun the warbles and squawks of night-time animals at the Taronga Zoo! Known for its strategic foreshore venue with spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, the Taronga Zoo promises pictursque views of the NYE fireworks. Whether you're interested in an overnight experience at the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga or an epicurean delight at a luminescent rooftop ballroom - celebrations at the Taronga Zoo is the best way to bring in the New Tear with your loved ones. Sip on fine wines, sample stunning cuisines and enjoy a front row view to all of Sydney's NYE celebrations.
Read all about spending Sydney New Year's Eve at Taronga Zoo
5. Check into a hotel with a view
Translate the words "room with a view" into reality by checking into one of the many Harbour side hotels for incredible views of the famous fireworks from the comfort of your very own room.
Budget Hotels With a View Of The Sydney NYE Celebrations
- North Sydney Harbourview Hotel
- Holiday Inn Old Sydney
- Rendezvous Hotel Sydney The Rocks
Luxury Hotels With a View Of The Sydney NYE Celebrations
- Pullman Quay Grand Harbour
- Four Seasons Sydney
- Shangri-La Sydney
Top Sydney Harbour Fireworks Free Vantage Points
If you're looking for free vantage points of the Sydney New Year fireworks, check out the top 5 listed below. You can also view the full list of free vantage spots. Please note that most local parks and vantage points will be closed on NYE 2020.
Capacity : 13,500
Opening times - 10:00 AM – 12:30 AM
Enjoy views of the front of the Harbour bridge with the Sydney Opera House in the backdrop.
NYE 2020 Status: Only open to frontline workers.
Capacity : 5000
Opening times - 8:00 AM – 12:30 AM
This one's a popular location with good views of the western side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
NYE 2020 Status: Open. It will be an alcohol-free zone from 12 PM December 31, 2020 to 3 AM January 1, 2021.
Capacity : 38,000
Opening times - 12:30 PM – 8:30 PM ( expected to reach capacity)
Located under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bradfield Highway on the southern side of the harbour, the Dawes Point Park offers a mix of good, yet limited fireworks views.
NYE 2020 Status: Only open to frontline workers.
Capacity : 10,000
Opening times - 12:00 PM – 12:30 AM ( expected to reach capacity)
The Yarranabbe Park is a large open foreshore location with clear views of the city and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
NYE 2020 Status: Closed
Tips for Celebrating New Years Eve In Sydney
- If you're planning to fly into Sydney for New Years, tickets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are known to be the least expensive
- Avoid renting a car around New Years as the city is bustling with traffic. An uber is a more hassle-free option. Note, surchages after the fireworks can be quite high due to increased demand.
- On 31st December, the Harbour Bridge will be closed in both directions from 11:00 PM until 1.30 AM. If your travel plans involve using the Bridge, plan your schedule around these timings.
- Ferries will stop running on New Year's Eve from 8:00 PM to 12:45 AM.
- Its best advised to download the TransportNSW app for the lastest public transport updates on 31st December.
- Check the weather forecast before heading out on New Years Eve as most of the viewing areas are open spaces with no shade.
- The city rolls out thousands of extra buses and trains from 30th December, so long as you’ve got your Opal Card handy, you can get just about anywhere you want easily. Expect delays on all modes of transport however. Head here for a complete list of the road closures and extra transportation modes.
- There are a few spots that permit BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze). If you're looking to spend New Year's on a budget, hit up these spots by bringing your own alcohol and food to the party. Note, there has been a significant increase in alcohol-free areas over the last few years so make sure you check the maps on the city of Sydney website for the rules before you head to your favourite spot.
- For more ticketed Sydney New Year eve celebrations, check out the official website.
Frequently Asked Questions About New Years Eve In Sydney
Are the Sydney New Year Fireworks free?
Yes! The Sydney City Council stages the Sydney NYE Fireworks, and while the actual show is free, the number of free viewing sites decrease year on year. Note that this year, the fireworks display will only be available to view at midnight when it is broadcast live.
Can I walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Years Eve?
The Sydney Harbour Bridge walkway and cycleways remain closed from 6:00 PM on New Year's Eve until 2:00 AM New Year's Day.
Are there two firework displays on NYE in Sydney?
Yes, there are 2 fireworks displays on NYE in Sydney. The first one takes place at 9 PM, primarily for children and families who can't stay up till 12 AM. The Sydney New Year's Eve Midnight Fireworks start at 12 AM, heralding the dawn of a New Year! Please note that this year, only the 12 AM show will occur, and will broadcast live on ABC TV.
How long does the Sydney New Year's Eve Fireworks last for?
The Sydney New Year's Eve Midnight Fireworks usually last for 12 minutes, but will be a 7-minute show this year.
Do the free fireworks viewing points get congested?
Yes! With over a million people flocking into the city to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking fireworks display, the free vantage points can get flooded. Additionally, this year, many vantage points will be closed or reserved for frontline workers. We'd recommend a Sydney New Year Harbour Cruise for a peaceful viewing experience.
Is the North Sydney Olympic Pool's annual New Year's Eve fireworks event cancelled?
Yes. The 83-year-old pool North Sydney Olympic Pool has cancelled its annual New Year's Eve fireworks event after a structural review deemed the venue to be unsafe.