Sydney’s got a bit of a knack for colouring the harbour with glorious illuminations, from the spectacle of Vivid in winter to the internationally renowned NYE fireworks display. Somehow we’ve worked (and partied) our way through another rotation around the sun, and lo and behold a new decade is on our doorstep. It’s time to start planning your New Year’s Eve celebrations, and you may want to call dibs on a revered harbourside patch of grass already; they fill up fast for the count-down to midnight.
We've picked out the best events taking place on New Year's Eve in Sydney – including fancy ticketed dos and more affordable park hangs with stellar views of the Circular Quay spectacle. If you’ve a reputation to uphold and want to kick on into the roaring ’20s, we’ve got New Year's Day parties for you too. Feeling flat? Freshen up with a splash at Sydney’s best beaches. It’s been wild, 2019!
RECOMMENDED: The best events at Sydney Festival 2020.
New Year's Eve events
Luna Park’s end-of-year event will be a spectacular way to welcome the start of a new decade. Tix start at a pretty doable $99 and you can ride the Wild Mouse as many times as you desire, enjoy the view from the Ferris wheel and get a spinning head from the Rotor, as you have unlimited access to all the rides until 1am.
You’ve probably spent many a summer evening at Victoria Park, but now you can luxuriate on the green with food trucks, booze and two stages featuring some of Australia’s biggest party starters and other groovers from across the seven seas at this New Year's Eve music festival. This year’s headlining acts include Blue Mountains hip-hop and electro duo Hermitude and dance music marvels Sneaky Sound System.
A wander through the Botanic Garden is a refreshing delight on any day of the year, but it’s going to be extra spectacular on December 31. The all-inclusive event covers all your food and drinks for the evening, and will bring live music and bright lights to this forest within the garden. They've also called dibs on a waterfront spot for the fireworks count-down.
Just because you’ve got a brood of kidlets doesn’t mean you can’t party on an island this New Year’s Eve. The Goat Island event is being billed as a family-forward NYE celebration, meaning it’s more picnics and ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ at the fireworks than debauched dancefloor shenanigans. It’s a self-service situation, so pack a sturdy basket of booze, food and outdoor lounging equipment.
The glitzy new function space at the Sydney Opera House, the Yallamundi Rooms, opened earlier this year, and now the venue will have its party chops tested at this NYE event. Before the count-down kicks off, enjoy canapés, cheese and fresh fruits while sipping drinks in a six-hour unlimited feast. And once the soirée rolls into 2020, things will get a little more heated on the summer dancefloor.
Located just off Rose Bay, Shark Island is a secluded harbour island that’s at the top of our list for New Year’s celebrations. For the count-down to 2020, it will undergo a tropical makeover, turning into a lush island party oasis. Before the night kicks into full NYE gear, fuel up with a delicious hand-held dinner of party food then dance with DJs as the fireworks roll in.
After an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve to share with the kids? Look no further than Bradleys Head. Head to one of three NYE parties happening in the area: the Amphitheatre or the Mast Precinct are your go-to for a bushland celebration to welcome 2020, but if you’d rather pack your own picnic and bring in the New Year on a grassy knoll, head for Athol Lawn.
You’ll feel pretty damn exclusive celebrating the culmination of 2019 at a harbour island garden party. The secluded New Year’s Eve do on Clark Island lets you greedily lap up those spectacular harbour views and enjoy an evening feast, minus the foot traffic and over-stuffed restaurants. The breezy ferry trip from and back to Circular Quay is also part of the deal, so enjoy the first habour float of the year.
At the pinnacle of glamorous New Year’s Eve celebrations is the Opera Australia event – an evening of fine dining, arias and operettas, bookended by a view of the midnight fireworks from Sydney’s best vantage point. There are three ticket options: one for a pre-performance dinner, one for a midnight party, and one ticket which gives access to both plus a performance of either La Bohème or a gala concert of opera’s greatest hits.
Within the Sydney Harbour National Park there is an expanse of wonderfully lush, green lawns facing the Harbour Bridge on the estate of Strickland House, and you’re welcome to pop your picnic blanket down and enjoy uninterrupted views of the fireworks this New Year’s Eve. For the entry price of $38.33, you can BYO drinks and nibbles and do away with the stress of battling the crowds.
Cockatoo Island offers an excellent vantage point to watch the colourful display light up the night sky, with accommodation included. You can start 2020 by getting back to basics at the BYO tent sites, or kick-off the year feeling fancy free at their deluxe glamping site. The party will start in the morning, with plenty of entertainment on offer beyond the bright lights.
Another year has sped by and it's time to bring in 2020 with style. Portside sits right under the big white sails of our glorious Opera House, making it a primo spot to watch the harbour fireworks glow this New Year’s Eve. Their swish (and rather exxy) NYE package includes a full evening of Champagne, beer and wine, plus canapés and luxe grazing stations.
Want to avoid a 2020 headache?
There’s nothing like the harsh reality of the last call to make you realise how hungry – and perhaps how tipsy – you really are. Sometimes the only way to sort yourself out and curb tomorrow’s hangover is to treat yourself to a feast. Whether you prefer sweet, salty or spicy, we’re here to help keep your hangover at the helm with a cheat sheet for a satisfying late-night meal in Sydney that’ll bring you back to your senses.