By Chris K

Today’s Itinerary

  • 9AM – Grab your picnic food and drinks
  • 11AM – Grab your spot on the Harbour for the fireworks
  • 9PM – Family fireworks show in Sydney Harbour and Darling Harbour
  • 12PM – New Year’s Eve in Sydney! We’re gonna party like it’s 1999!
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We’ve made it to Sydney after an amazing road trip through the East coast of Australia. It’s the end of a long, fantastic year of travel and inspiration, and it’s time to let our hair down a little.

Ok, a lot.

We’re in Sydney for New Year’s Eve, and there’s only one show in Sydney that we need to see – the fireworks!

What is it about fireworks that can make grown men and women gasp and gaze into the sky slack-jawed with wonder? Could it be that we feel like we are looking into the universal truth about our origins, or is it just that we like to see pretty colours and things exploding? We don’t know, but maybe after a few champagnes on NYE we’ll have a better answer.

One thing we do know for sure it that we’ll be witness to the best New Year’s Eve fireworks display in the world.

Want proof? Check out this infographic provided by the City of Sydney.

what on sydney? sydney harbour bridge fireworks on new year's eve

Infographic by City of Sydney

Sydney New Year’s Eve Fireworks Facts:

  • Sydney’s NYE fireworks display draws the largest crowd in the world, of approximately 1.5 million people
  • over a billion people watch the Sydney Fireworks on television
  • there are more than 100,000 individual fireworks set off on New Year’s Eve
  • and the whole event is carbon neutral!

source: City of Sydney

The plan for New Year’s Eve in Sydney

The plan is to have a picnic on New Year’s Eve, staking out a spot with an amazing view as early as possible.

There are over 1.5 million people trying to get a great view of the fireworks, remember! So don’t be surprised if you get there late and find all of the good spots taken. With so many people wanting to be dazzled by the spectacular fireworks and the amazing party atmosphere, we need to find a venue, fast!

Luckily, there are many options all around the harbour to see the fireworks, and these include locations that are alcohol free or BYO (bring your own), that have disabled access, and that provide food and beverage available to purchase. It’s an important decision to make, because you don’t want to be uhm-ing and ahh-ing on the morning of New Year’s Eve.

We need to know where to go! So to kickstart your research, we’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you below.

By far the most up-to-date information on New Year’s Eve locations in Sydney is provided by the City of Sydney here.

Sydney NYE Tip:

There are plenty of options to choose from when trying to decide which is the best place to see the fireworks on NYE, but recently, many of the most popular sites have introduced limited access with ticketing. You’ll need to purchase tickets in advance to get into some of the most popular places to New Year’s Eve in Sydney.

Here are 11 amazing places to watch the fireworks in Sydney on New Year’s Eve

Our top spots to watch the fireworks, culled from years of research and personal experience in trying to get as close to the action as possible!

1. Sydney Opera House

  • Address: Bennelong Point, Circular Quay, 2001
  • Capacity: 4,200
  • Open from: 6.00am
  • Open till: 2.00am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

There aren’t very many places that offer vantage points as good as the Sydney Opera House. Just imagine standing underneath those gleaming sails as the sky above you explodes in outrageous colour combinations that only Sydney can pull off. There’s limited capacity here so make sure you get in as early as you can – but you’ll be glad you did.

2. Dawes Point (Tar-Ra) Park

Wondering what to do in Sydney? Why not get an amazing view of the fireworks by showing up early to secure your spot.

Photo by Nigel Howe, looking back to Dawes Point and the Harbour Bridge. CC License

  • Address: Parkland, Dawes Point Park, The Rocks
  • Capacity: 25,000
  • Open from: 12:00am
  • Open till: 12.00am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

The official City of Sydney NYE website says that “there’s only a limited view of the fireworks”. Well, that may be the case if you leave your run too late – but most revellers on the lower end of George Street in the Rocks are having way too much of a good time to pay attention to when the fireworks are about to start. If you make your way down towards the bridge at around 11:30 PM, you might be able to sneak yourself into a good position.

3. East Circular Quay

  • Address: Promenade, Alfred St, Sydney, 2000
  • Capacity: 4,500
  • Entry Fee: FREE

A location that will fill up fast, and can get quite crowded. You’ll have a spectacular view but keep in mind that once capacity is reached, access will be closed and there will only be pass-outs until 10PM.

4. Campbell’s Cove

  • Address: Hickson Rd, Sydney, 2000
  • Capacity: 6,000
  • Open from: Midday
  • Open till: 12.30am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

Campbell’s Cove has got to be one of the best places in Sydney to watch the fireworks. A great view of the Harbour Bridge and directly across from the Opera House, you’re really in the middle of the action here.

5. The Cahill Expressway …what?

The Cahill Expressway – yes, that’s right folks – on a road! Not just any road though – the Cahill Expressway has got to have one of the best views in all off Sydney, taking in both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House from it’s position above Circular Quay. This year, Transport for New South Wales are running a competition to watch the fireworks from the Cahill Expressway, with a family-friendly event planned.

6. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

  • Address: Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney, 2000
  • Capacity: 17,000
  • Open from: 10.00am
  • Open till: 12.30am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, located in the Royal Botanic Gardens, is a perennial favourite for watching the fireworks. Do note, however, there is a long, long list of restrictions for this site. These include;

  • All patrons entering the site will be subject to security searches
  • No BYO alcohol
  • No glass
  • No unsealed beverages, including water
  • No pets
  • No plastic sheeting/tarps
  • No tents, pegs or shade structures
  • No barbecues
  • No bicycles
  • No sharp or serrated knives
  • No bean bags, mattresses or inflatable furniture
  • No sparklers
  • No footballs
  • No frisbees

So beware! And leave the frisbee at home this New Year’s Eve.

7. Harbourlights

  • Location: Fleet Steps South, Mrs Macquarie’s Point
  • Open from: 6.30 pm
  • Open Till: 1.00 am

Prepare to bring in the New Year at this 18+ only party.

8. Lawn with a View

  • Location: Bennelong Lawn, Tarpiean Way, Sydney 2000
  • Open from: 7.00 pm
  • Open till: 12.30 am

Don’t forget to bring your own picnic rug to this one! Some other essential NYE picnic items are;

  • Champagne or Australian Sparkling Wine
  • bottled water
  • plenty of food – dips, chips, sausage rolls, olives, oysters, prawns…let your stomach guide you
  • speakers for your iPhone/iPod
  • sunscreen – you’ll need it if you’ve gotten in early to get a good spot. Make sure it’s SPF 30+, and reapply
  • insect repellent
  • playing cards or board games
  • camera and tripod

9. Blues Point Reserve

  • Address: Blues Point Road, McMahons Point, 2060
  • Capacity: 12,000
  • Open from: Midday
  • Open till: 12:30am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

A bit tough to get to if you’re staying in town, but the advantage of distance is perspective – and you’ll have a great perspective of the action.

10. Bradfield Park

  • Address: Alfred Street, North Sydney, 2061
  • Capacity: 50,000
  • Open from: Midday
  • Open till: 12:30am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

This is one of the absolute best locations in Sydney to watch the fireworks, but this is one spot that will fill to capacity pretty quickly. Get in early, and grab your spot.

11. Goat Island

Goat Island – funny name, but it has some spectacular views of the fireworks during New Year’s Eve. It is ticketed but the good news is that your ticket includes the cost of return transport from King Street Wharf in Sydney.

Best Family Friendly Place to Watch the Fireworks

Bradley’s Head

With no alcohol allowed here and bag searches to make sure, plus plenty of entertainment provided for the kids, they’re sure to enjoy the night leading up to the biggest fireworks display in the world.

Taronga Zoo

Roar with the lions as the fireworks light up the sky. This is definitely a family-friendly place to watch the fireworks, and the proceeds from ticket sales go to supporting the Lemurs. Goodness knows they’ve had a tough year!

Best place to camp out for New Year’s Eve

Cockatoo Island

Enjoy three days of camping, with barbeques, asian feasts, and hot breakfasts, as you both settle in to enjoy, and recover from, the fireworks display that’s taking place right above you.

The most expensive place to watch the fireworks?

Blu Bar, The Shangri-La Hotel: Granted, you’ll have an incredible panoramic view of Sydney, but at $600 per person, you’d almost expect to be able to set off your own fireworks!

Make sure you take some amazing New Year’s Eve Photographs

Our tip: don’t forget to bring your tripod! It will help you make sure your photographs are super-sharp. Ken Rockwell gives some more detailed tips on taking photographs of fireworks.

For inspiration, have a look at this gallery (and thank the many talented photographers, who have generously shared their pictures under a Creative Commons License.

Oh, what a night!

So – have you found a pozzy? (as they say in Oz – they mean, “have you found a good location”).

Great. Let’s kick our shoes off, enjoy some amazing food and fantastic wine, and count down to the New Year will all of our friends and family, past and present.

From Jacob and Chris, a big thankyou to everyone who has made our year one of the best ever. We can’t wait to keep travelling with you, next year and beyond.