New Year’s Eve. It’s the biggest party of the year and when it comes to celebrating, few cities put on a show more worthy of the word ‘spectacle’ than Sydney. So if you’re thinking of braving the crowds for a glimpse of the dazzling NYE Sydney fireworks, and are keen to ring in 2019 with one million of your new friends, then here are the best spots to watch the night unfold.
Sydney Opera House
Does it get any more Australian than watching the NYE fireworks from the steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House? Not really, which makes it THE place to be when the clock strikes midnight. From the Opera House, you have unobstructed views of the Harbour Bridge, where the main fireworks event takes place, and you’re in the very heart of the action, which means the atmosphere is going to be electric. This prime position doesn’t come easy though, so prepare to get in early (you can secure a spot from 7:30am). It’s a long day, but as soon as the pyrotechnics begins, it all becomes worth it.
Bradleys Head Amphitheatre
Make a day of it on Sydney’s North Shore at Bradleys Head. Opening to the public at 3pm, this ticketed area is popular with families and perfect for picnicking. With a clear harbour view and a wide range of food stalls serving tasty treats from day to night, this vantage spot is perfect for a New Year celebration in Sydney!
$250 million in the making, Sydney’s newest waterside reserve is one of the most impressive lookout points you can find yourself at come the beginning of the Sydney NYE fireworks. The six-hectare park is situated smack-bang between Circular Quay and Darling Harbour, and boasts unrivalled views of not only Sydney Harbour Bridge, but also Goat Island, Balmain and Balls Head Point. As Barangaroo is a ticketed area, and gates don’t open until 6pm, you also don’t have to worry about turning up early to lock in pole position on the harbour’s edge. That leaves you with an entire day to get thinking about those New Year’s resolutions!
If your NYE Sydney posse includes the little ones, why not consider skipping the crowds of Circular Quay and heading to the Darling Harbour precinct. The hourly flame and light show kicks off at the kid-friendly time of 7pm, before fireworks above Cockle Bay at 9pm, and again at midnight in conjunction with the city-wide display. Many families choose to book a table at one of the restaurants along the wharf, which not only ensures the kids are well-fed and ready for the big night ahead, but also guarantees front row seats to the evening spectacle.
Dr Mary Booth Lookout Reserve
Dr Mary Booth Lookout Reserve is a small grassy area opposite Milsons Point in Kirribilli. Entry to the designated viewing area opens at 8am and the space has a capacity of 4,500. Groups are encouraged to arrive together and an early start is recommended as capacity is often reached in the early afternoon. With breathtaking views and a waterfront position, this is the perfect spot for a New Year’s Eve picnic. Remember, alcohol is prohibited here and there is no BYO.
Want a bird’s eye view of the Sydney NYE celebrations? Then head for the hill! Observatory Hill, that is. This grassy vantage point is just a 20-minute walk from Circular Quay, on the western side of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Once the highest point in colonial Sydney (so you know the views are going to be epic), Observatory Hill is now a popular spot for picnickers who generally arrive around midday – picnic rug at the ready – to acquire the softest patch of turf. A word of warning though: there are a few enormous Moreton Bay fig trees dotted around, so avoid those if you don’t want to be craning your neck to get an unobstructed view of the glittering Sydney NYE fireworks.
For those who want to be in the thick of things – we’re talking close enough to smell the sulphur of the fireworks – head straight for Bradfield Park. Located almost directly underneath the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this spacious park is ideal for large groups or families who don’t want to miss a minute of the party. Bradfield Park usually reaches capacity by 7:30pm, so arrive early to avoid disappointment, and if you forget snacks or refreshments, there will be food and drink vendors on-site to cater for the hungry masses.
Pyrmont Bay Park
Pyrmont Bay Park is located in the Darling Harbour precinct, between the Australian National Maritime Museum and The Star, Sydney casino. The park enjoys great views of Sydney Harbour, but be sure you get a spot on the western side of the park if you want see the bridge. The area opens at 1:30pm and entry to the park is free, with food and soft drinks available for purchase.
The suburb of Balmain has fantastic views across the water, with Thornton Park being a particularly popular spot to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks. This park enjoys uninterrupted views that reach to the western side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Opening at 3:30pm, entry is free and easily accessible via Balmain East Wharf. Alcohol is prohibited at this site.
Watsons Bay is fairly removed from the crowds of Sydney Harbour, yet it’s still a great spot to see the fireworks fill the city skyline. Set up at Robertson Park or Watsons Bay wharf to see the horizon light up with colour. Many of the surrounding restaurants will also have New Year’s Eve packages on offer, including Sydney icon Doyle’s on the Beach. Bring a picnic and join in the fun from 12pm.
New Years Eve Tips
- Many of the free vantage points fill up quickly on the day, so be sure to claim your spot early to avoid disappointment.
- Most viewing locations have restrictions on things such as alcohol, pets and items that may obstruct others’ views. Be sure to check what’s allowed at your chosen spot before leaving home.
- It’s highly recommended that you use public transport to get to and from the city. Road closures and heavy foot traffic around the CBD will make for high congestion in the city. Extra bus and train services will be in action.
- Some train stations, bus stops and operating routes may change on New Year’s Eve, so be sure to check out the latest updates.
- If you’re claiming your NYE fireworks spot early, bring along sunscreen, hats and even a cover-up to help you slip, slop, slap.
- Be sure to pack enough water to stay hydrated while you wait.
- If you can, don’t hurry to race off after the Sydney New Years Eve fireworks display wraps. This can help you avoid the congestion as everyone heads home. While you might get home later, you’ll likely have an easier journey.
Feature image: Fireworks over Sydney Harbour. Credit: Gouldy 99 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0