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A purple-lit laneway scene with people sitting down eating and drinking
Photograph: Supplied/ Destination NSW

Party between the purple flags

A new initiative to invigorate Sydney's nightlife will see purple flags pop up in four parts of Sydney

Alice Ellis
Written by
Alice Ellis

You’re going to start noticing purple flags popping up as you get around Sydney. What will they indicate? Party time, excellent. 

As with the red and yellow flags at the beach, this new purple flag scheme is about marking out ‘safe spots’ – purple flag zones will help people easily ID areas that provide diverse and ‘well managed’ night scenes, with a range of entertainment and dining options, including pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants and cafés.

The scheme is modelled on similar initiatives in Europe and New Zealand. For instance, the are now about 45 popular purple flag party zones in the UK, after the program was first introduced in 2012. And it's just one of the initiatives in the NSW government’s plan to boost Sydney’s 24-hour economy after years of disruption.  

As a pilot, the NSW government will assess four districts, from January, for purple flag status, which have been chosen for their diverse mix of night-time offerings. One is the YCK precinct (York, Clarence and Kent Streets and its surrounding laneways in the CBD), which is popular for its small bars, thanks to the 18 drinking holes dotted throughout. Another is Marrickville and Illawarra Roads in Marrickville, whose live-music venues, craft breweries and Vietnamese cheap eateries have brought it a ‘NSW’s Coolest Suburb’ title. There’s Church Street in Parramatta, a lively strip of multicultural restaurants. And Haldon Street in Lakemba, which is home to a load of alcohol-free restaurants and cafés, as well as the popular Ramadan Nights food market.

It’s expected that the program will be rolled out to more districts next year.

Michael Rodrigues, NSW’s 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, said the purple flags will become a recognisable indication that a certain area is both a vibrant and safe nightlife destination. “We have so many great night-time districts in Sydney, and ‘purple flag’ will promote many of the fantastic things they offer.”

A separate program trialled in Enmore, which allows venues to extend their trading hours, was recently extended until next July. The City of Sydney has waived venue fees for outdoor dining and drinking. And the Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner is running a program called ‘Uptown Accelerator’, which is all about supporting dozens of districts around Sydney to develop their nightlife scenes.

Keen for a bit of time on a bar stool? Here are our favourite Sydney bars.

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