How To Spend A Unique New Years Eve In Sydney 2021
Wondering what to do for New Years Eve in Sydney 2020? We’ve been meaning to write about Sydney New Years Eve for ages so we can share with you our tips and personal experience of what to expect.
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Did you know…
…more than 1 million people flock to watch the Sydney NYE fireworks? They are renowned for being the best fireworks display in the world and I think that statement might well be true.
But, if the thought of feeling like a sardine and spending the day and evening squashed against the masses at Mrs Macquarie’s Point doesn’t sound too appealing to you, here’s some alternatives on how to spend New Years Eve in Sydney.
If you didn’t know, there are two New Years Eve firework shows on Sydney Harbour every single year:
The kids fireworks start at 9pm
The main fireworks start at 12am
What to expect in this post.
In this post, we’ll talk about all of the different options on how to spend New Years Eve in Sydney.
Budgets vary massively and you could easily spend over $1000 on a meal at Altitude or Aria with a cracking view, but is it worth it? Actually, is any meal worth that much money? I think you know the answer.
How much is a Sydney New Years Eve Harbour Boat Cruise?
Ever wanted to get yourself on a boat on Sydney Harbour to watch the fireworks? We’ll talk about how much they cost because you don’t necessarily need a huge budget to tick this bucket list option off your list.
Free and paid viewing platforms for Sydney News Years Eve
There’s also some free viewing spots because, well, Sydney council are certainly making a fortune out from charging people to sit in parks or along the harbour. So, we’ll mention some of the free and paid for areas to view the fireworks.
Watch Sydney New Years Eve fireworks on TV vs being there in person
What about just staying at home and watching the Sydney fireworks? We’ll talk about what it’s like compared to actually being there.
Awesome music festivals near Sydney
And of course, if fireworks aren’t your thing and you’d prefer to go to a festival instead, we’ll talk about the best around Sydney.
The ultimate way to see Sydney New Years Eve fireworks
Let’s cut to the chase.
If you want to experience Sydney New Years Eve fireworks display, the best way you’re going to see them is on a boat on Sydney harbour.
The best thing you can do is to book in advance, the sooner the better because they will all sell out.
Here are some of the standouts that we would personally book ourselves.
Budget Sydney harbour NYE cruise under $300 pp and BYO
Did you know the Manly Fast Ferry offers up a few choices to see the Sydney Harbour fireworks? You can be picked up from either Darling Harbour or Manly and best of all you can bring your own food and booze along. Yes, that’s right. Prices start from $250 pp. Click here to find out more >
Sydney Harbour NYE cruise under $650 pp
Go on a vintage boat! The Wangi Queen Ferry will pick you up from Millers Point and take you on a 7 hour cruise around the harbour. Tickets cost $649pp and includes food, beer, wine and soft drinks.
Prefer something a bit more modern?
Check out My Way, a recently refurbished boat which will take you on a 6 hour cruise around Sydney Harbour. For $695 you’ll get to dance the night away with tunes from a DJ, wine, beer and soft drinks as well as a buffet included. The seating outside is perfect to capture plenty of photos of the fireworks.
Sydney Harbour NYE Cruise under $1000 pp
We’ve always wanted to go on the Glass Boat Cruise for NYE in Sydney because well, the whole boat is made out of glass. This means you’ll always get a view of the fireworks no matter what! For $799 you’ll get a 6 hour cruise including both kids and the main fireworks, all inclusive night complete with beer, wine and soft drinks as well as a buffet.
Looking for something else?
Check the deals below to book your Sydney New Years Eve Cruise before it sells out!
Watch a show and the fireworks at Sydney Opera House
Then you can pay another $349 for the party afterwards which includes canapes, drinks and a cracking view.
If you don’t want to pay for the party, you can still view the fireworks but the view won’t be as good as the prime spot at the party.
NYE Portside Party at The Sydney Opera House
If you’re not interested in going to see a show, you can get a prime position at the NYE Portside party. The viewing platform is incredible and right opposite the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
There’s quite a few random people playing there from DJ’s, Bongo players and more but it looks fun and most of all, it’s around $800pp for all inclusive (and copious amounts of champagne!).
How to watch the Sydney New Years Eve Fireworks without having to get there early
We’ve been meaning to share some secrets on how you can rock up to the Sydney New Years Eve fireworks pretty late and still get an awesome view.
I know as a local, I don’t particularly want to start lining up at 7am to get into a spot to watch the midnight fireworks. If you do decide to line up early for a view, make sure you bring an umbrella, hat, sunscreen and a water bottle. New Years Eve in Sydney can be so hot, but imagine sitting in it for hours without the escape of swimming in the ocean or going into an air con building to cool off? It makes a huge difference.
If you’re visiting Sydney New Years Eve fireworks for the first time, Circular Quay is jammed packed which always surprises me because technically you don’t really get the iconic view of being able to watch the fireworks directly over the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
I’ve been to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair before and lined up 12 hours before the fireworks just to get a spot. And it was a bit hectic, especially when the midnight fireworks started, people suddenly decided I was standing in their spot. To be honest, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a good spot for backpackers because they tend to be more tolerant of lining up and just being “there for the experience.”
What Mrs Macquarie’s Point looks like on New Years Eve in Sydney. Image via ABC
You’ll look down to see the exclusive roped off area where people have paid A LOT of money in The Botanic Gardens to get a better view without the crowds.
Another year I rocked up at Martin Place Station around 8pm and we had to sit on the grass at the northern end of the Botanic Gardens on Elizabeth Street like we were in a conga line.
We could see a very small section of the bridge and should have really watched them from the TV for a better view. But the atmosphere was good. The interesting part about this experience is I remember us legging it back to Martin Place Station after the midnight fireworks, expecting it to be packed. It wasn’t. To be honest, it wasn’t busy at all. Maybe we got lucky. Who knows.
So this is what I’ve learnt over the years.
Go to the other side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to watch the fireworks. When I lived in Kirribilli, we just walked on down to the end of our street to Broughton Street and had a cracking view of the fireworks, right next to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Turns out they are charging now to get into Bradfield Park – it’s not expensive.
There’s loads of small pockets to catch the Sydney Harbour fireworks in Kirribilli.
We popped over to the Kirribilli Hotel for a few drinks which was actually really quiet because everyone was already at their spots ready for the fireworks, then we headed down just in time to watch them. Like most places around Sydney Harbour, you can’t drink. Security will check as well because they’re pretty strict like that in Sydney no matter what event it is.
Admittedly, that year we were going to go to our secret park at Mary Booth Lookout but you had to get in there by 2pm before the police closed it off. We didn’t think it was worth it.
Although there’s no direct view, the fireworks are amazing from Kurraba Reserve, Neutral Bay.
Another year when we moved over to Neutral Bay, we just walked out of our home and two minutes down the road to Kurraba Reserve and there were only locals there. We had a brilliant view of the fireworks and loved it. The funny part was seeing everyone disappear back to their homes after both the 9pm and 12pm fireworks and it was deserted.
Technically if you wanted to bring some mates a long and park up for the day, you’d probably get it to yourselves for the whole day. The only problem is toilets in the area – that one I can’t help you with.
Blues Point Reserve.
We’ve always said Blues Point Reserve would be another good spot to watch the fireworks but again you need to pay to get in there. There’s a pub and loads of restaurants up the road if you’re looking for a few drinks beforehand.
And so would North Sydney Olympic Pool. The view over to the Sydney Harbour Bridge would be awesome way to see the New Years Eve fireworks.
If you’re happy to be really far away from the action but can still see the fireworks then Dudley Reserve or Milk Beach in Eastern Suburbs would make two great spots.
And of course North Head in Manly as well. I’ve heard Manly puts on a great atmosphere for kids for the 9pm fireworks.
Should you watch Sydney New Years Eve fireworks at home?
Check this one out. One year we decided to go on a road trip and drive from Sydney to Adelaide via Melbourne over Christmas and New Years. Our plan was to spend NYE in Adelaide, yet when we arrived around 5pm on the day, Steve had caught a bug and was so ill. I then had to spend the evening indoors watching the Sydney fireworks whilst Steve was fast sleep. The irony!
We’ve watched the Sydney fireworks on TV a few times now and to be honest, you won’t get a better view.
But how does it fair up in comparison to being there in person? You won’t get the atmosphere and you will most likely (like us) spend time complaining about the absolutely diabolical choice of music to accompany the fireworks.
They NEVER get it right and just play random pop songs. At least play Aussie pop songs or even better play classical music, because classical music and fireworks go hand in hand. And you know, even famous classical music from movies so people might know it, just to stay relevant and all. But nope, every year it’s the same.
Looking to do something different this Sydney New Years Eve?
If you’re not fussed on watching the Sydney fireworks, here’s some alternatives as to what to do. If you’re a backpacker reading this and wondering whether to go to a music festival or to watch the fireworks, it’s a hard one but there are some awesome festivals on that might be well up your street.
Want to be in the middle of the Sydney New Years Eve atmosphere, but rather than waiting around all day for fireworks, go to an awesome music festival instead?
Luna Park Harbour Party
Every year Luna Park puts on a lineup and this year sees Hot Dub Time Machine and British dance-pop artist Example (remember this song?) headline. If you’re up for having a bit of a sing along whilst being close to the action, this could be right up your street.
Here’s what to expect from Hot Dub Time Machine – dance music with a lot of cheesy sing along tunes.
New Years Eve in the Park Sydney
New Years Eve in the Park is located at Victoria Park – you know, the park next to Sydney Uni by Broadway Shopping Centre.
Here you’ll find some of Australia’s most loved dance acts including: The Presets, The Jungle Giants, Sneaky Sound System, Hermitude and Touch Sensitive.
Honestly, Australia has produced some awesome dance music from these guys and I would probably head to this festival since seeing this line up. It had me at The Presets alone – takes me back to when I first came here as a backpacker!
Lost Paradise is the cool festival, the one where people are a bit more out there, a bit similar to Bestival or Secret Garden Festival in England. It’s located an hour out of Sydney in Glenworth Valley where you’ll be able to escape the crowds and really have a laugh spread out over a few days.
Don’t forget the legendary Field Day Festival in the Domain on New Years Day (which includes Disclosure and Pnau) and the secret locals unofficial free party at Milk Beach in Eastern Suburbs to continue it on.
Looking for Sydney New Years Eve Accommodation?
Now you could technically kill two birds with one stone here. Book a Sydney Harbour hotel and you might not even have to leave your home!
Find out what it’s like to stay at Sydney Harbour YHA below!
Sydney Harbour YHA are having a party on their excellent and huge rooftop (it’s sold out for 2019). But like a lot of places, you’ll have to commit to staying a good week or so. They currently have rooms still available!