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 2020 with one million of your new friends, then here are 10 of the best spots to watch the night unfold.
Sydney Opera House
Does it get any more iconic than watching the NYE fireworks from the steps of the 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 Sydney’s main fireworks event takes place, and you’re in the very heart of the action, which means the atmosphere is 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: The Amphitheatre
Make a day of it on Sydney’s North Shore at Bradleys Head Ampitheatre. Opening to the public at 3pm, this ticketed area (between $44 and $227) is popular with families and perfect for picnicking. Those that forget their hampers at home can tuck into fare from some of the food stalls on-site. This vantage spot is perfect for a New Year celebration in Sydney, or you can make for some of the other perches at Bradleys Head, including the Mast Precinct or Athol Lawn.
$250 million in the making, Sydney’s newest foreshore 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. Barangaroo is a ticketed area for New Year (between $5.30 and $41.80) and gates open at 5pm. Booking your place in advance means you don’t have to worry about turning up early to lock in prime 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 troop 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. Get in quick to snap up your table as these coveted positions disappear quickly.
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 requires a $10 ticket, with the space accessible from 8am. Groups are encouraged to arrive together and an early start is recommended as the reserve’s 3000-person 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 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 it could be worth heading down earlier to avoid being stuck behind the boughs and having to crane 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 revelry. It’s also conveniently close to public transport. Bradfield Park opens at 8am and 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 any pre-midnight munchies. Entry to Bradfield Park is ticketed at $10 per person.
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 decent 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, but remember to arrive with snacks and drinks in tow as no food is available for purchase on-site.
Cremorne Point Reserve
Whoever said you have to be up-close to enjoy Sydney’s stellar NYE fireworks? A spot at Cremorne Point Reserve puts you slightly further away from the action, but this free-entry site can welcome up to 7,000 Sydneysiders (or interstate travellers if you’re flying in just for the event) and gives you the chance to experience the same view as some of the critters at Taronga Zoo. The Reserve opens from 1pm on the day, and food outlets are available for if you get peckish while you count down to midnight.
Watsons Bay is fairly removed from the crowds of Sydney Harbour, yet it’s still a great spot to see the fireworks light up against the city skyline. Settle in for the night at Robertson Park or Watsons Bay Wharf to see the horizon fill with colour once midnight draws. Many of the surrounding restaurants offer New Year’s Eve packages, including Doyle’s on the Beach and Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel. Otherwise, bring a picnic and join in the fun from 12pm.
New Year’s 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 sun shades or umbrellas. 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 make for high congestion on the night. Extra bus and train services will be in action, but always allow for extra time to get home.
- Some train stations, bus stops and operating routes may have altered services and opening times for 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 Year’s 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.