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Person standing in the doorway of a venue with a purple sticker on the window.
Photography: Supplied | YCK Laneways Purple Flag zone

The very first 'purple flags' have been hung in Sydney, as one of the steps towards invigorating Sydney's nightlife

Sydney CBD’s popular York, Clarence and Kent Street (YCK) precinct is Australia’s first accredited Purple Flag district

Alice Ellis
Written by
Alice Ellis

One of Sydney's nightlife precincts, YCK Laneways (that stands for York, Clarence and Kent Streets, by the way), has earned the international tick of approval as Australia’s first accredited Purple Flag district. YCK is popular for its vibrant hidden nightlife, thanks to the 18 drinking holes and delicious eateries that are dotted throughout the district. 

Sydney is the latest city to join London, Stockholm and Auckland in rating nightlife areas against a set of criteria that make the area a buzzing, yet safe place to be after dark.

Just like with the red and yellow flags we're meant to swim between at the beach, this new Purple Flag scheme is about marking out the go-to spots for folks on the town. Purple flag zones will help people easily identify areas that provide diverse and ‘well managed’ night scenes, with a range of entertainment and dining options including; pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants, cafés, live music venues, theatres, art, and even shopping, all going down between the flags. 

Purple Flag zones are places where you'll be entertained, fed, and where local businesses and communities are intentionally working to ensure that all patrons always feel welcome and safe. Plus, there are plenty of transport options available to purple zones, including easy access by foot, public transport and car, meaning that maximum party accessibility is always the MO. 

The purple flag zones have worked well abroad, with there now being about 45 thriving Purple Flag party zones in the UK, and now, with their introduction to Sydney, there is plenty of expectation that our nightlife scene will only keep rolling up. 

Mike Rodrigues, the 24-hour economy commissioner, who has led the development of the pilot program here, says the initiative will help raise the bar of Greater Sydney’s after-dark destinations for both Sydneysiders and visitors. 

“We are working to deliver a better night out for all, and Purple Flag will boost Sydney’s reputation as a global nightlife destination, creating a thriving 24-hour economy across the state as more precincts apply for accreditation,” he says.

YCK Laneways Association VP Karl Schlothauer is excited the YCK precinct will be the first to be recognised as a vibrant and safe go-to for food and drink, arts and culture, and shopping.

“Whether it’s for some retail therapy, to visit one of the superb small bars, grab a late-night bite or enjoy one of our regular arts and cultural events, we are committed to delivering our patrons a safe, friendly and fun experience,” he says.

Rodrigues adds, “A collaborative and coordinated effort is required to build a vibrant and strong 24-hour economy, and the YCK team has shown considered planning and a willingness to innovate in earning Purple Flag status.”

The next areas to be granted Purple Flag status for this pilot are Parramatta's CBD, Marrickville, and Haldon Street in Lakemba. 

The Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner is also offering 'nightlife grants' of up to $200K to help bring new after-dark experiences to Greater Sydney, after running a program called ‘Uptown Accelerator’, which is all about supporting dozens of districts around Sydney to develop their nightlife scenes.

For more info about the scheme, head right here.

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

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