How do you choose where to go for the best Sydney New Years Eve outdoors? Ticketed events at prime vantage points are a great way to see in the new year without the mad scramble of the free sites. Most of them won’t break the bank, but what’s the best vantage point for you to go to? This will help you decide. There are lots of options. One’s sure to suit you.
But first, a little information about the harbour, the bridge and what you’ll see from different points around it. And don’t forget to go to this page for NYE harbour cruises and here for NYE hotel dining and drinks packages.
Sydney Harbour and the Fireworks
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the focal point of the fireworks.
That said, there are seven barges, up and down the harbour, letting off synchronised fireworks, plus more at Darling Harbour. Provided you can see the sky you’ll get lots of firework action.
My place has a good view of the harbour but not of the bridge. Well, every new year the entire sky over the harbour is a riot of light and sound, so much so that we can’t possibly see all of it. It’s very dramatic, so don’t think it’s the bridge or nothing. That’s absolutely not the case.
Looking Down the Harbour
This is arguably the very best way to see the Sydney New Years Eve fireworks outdoors as you will get the sweep of the harbour plus the front of the bridge (that’s the side fronting the Opera House). Why does it matter? Because each year there’s a theme and, right on midnight, fireworks making up the special theme are set off on the front of the bridge only. So, if that’s important to you make sure that you choose a point that has the Opera House to the left and in front of the bridge.
Looking up the Harbour
Here you’ll see the Opera House to the right and behind the bridge. You’ll miss the special theme but you’ll gain a view of the ‘other’ fireworks display in Darling Harbour. You can’t see this from most of the eastern vantage points, as the city gets in the way.
Looking across the Harbour
This will share aspects of the up or down views, depending on where you are.
Sydney New Years Eve Outdoors Map
Here’s the best place for all the latest Sydney new years eve outdoors information, and the invaluable official map of all the vantage points. Put it onto your smartphone and keep it near.
Are You Prepared to Pay a Bit?
If yes, then ticketed and catered or semi-catered venues could be for you. The beauty of ticketed events is that you do not have to spend hours and hours first getting and then keeping your selected spot. Numbers are also strictly controlled, and generally lower per square metre than in free access areas. Against that, there’s no BYO and alcohol will be pretty expensive. In areas where alcohol is allowed there’s generally a cash bar. You can bring your own food or buy it at most venues. Pre-paid hampers are often a feature.
$50 and Under
Bring or Buy Food, No Alcohol
These are ‘all-ages’, family-focused venues. They generally open around mid-afternoon. Extensive lawns mean most parts of the location will have decent views, although some views may be partially blocked by trees or bush.
Across the harbour, Athol Lawn, Bradleys Head is a bargain at under $35 per adult, half price for children. Family (2 adults, 2 children) tickets at around $75. To help keep costs down you bring your own picnic and rug. Food and non-alcoholic drinks are for sale and the whole area is alcohol free.
Another alcohol free, ticketed event at Bradleys Head is The Mast Precinct. Adult tickets around $50, family tickets a touch over $100. There will be live music and food for purchase, or bring your own.
Probably the best alcohol free, ticketed venue in Bradleys Head is the Ampitheatre (sold out for 2017). Similarly priced to the others, the views from here are uninterrupted and extensive.
Bring or Buy Food, Cash Bar, No BYO
On the other side of the harbour, the best inner city moderately priced area is Barangaroo (already sold out for 2017). Adult entry is under $50 and children are around $20. There will be food for sale plus pre-paid hampers. Alcohol for sale but no BYO. Wine looks to be pricey, starting at $60 bottle.
There are many advantages to leaving the inner city alone and opting for Sydney New Years Eve outdoors a little further out. Dudley Page Reserve in Dover Heights could be just your cup of tea.
Priced at just under $40 per adult there’s a relaxed, family, suburban feel here. The venue has a jumping castle, face painting and playground for the children. Bring or buy food and there’ll be a cash bar for alcohol.
No need to queue unless you are determined to be right at the front of the reserve. In that case, start queueing from around 4.30 pm. The gates open at 6 pm and the venue has not been known to run out of room yet.
Buses are laid on to get you there and back. If huge city crowds are not your thing then look at this option. You’ll get home pretty quickly afterwards, too, especially if you are staying in the inner city or eastern suburbs.
$200 and Under
Pirrama Park Wharf would be a good choice, although it jumps up in price. It’s still under $200 (around $150 per child) but this includes both food and a (single) drink. After that it’s a cash bar.
Taronga Zoo has nice views and could be ideal for families. Silver tickets, at around $200 give you entertainment and good views. Family tickets for sale too. Some of the animals will be available for viewing until dark.
Lawn With a View in the Royal Botanical Gardens is another picnic style venue at around $200, hamper included, BYO alcohol. (Sold out for 2017).
If you’ve gone this far you may want to go just a little further and experience Sydney New Years Eve outdoors on Shark Island. Accessible only by boat, with special ferries running there and back, tickets will cost you under $250 for adults, around $170 for kids. You can buy or bring your own food but not alcohol. A cash bar will operate.
Forget the Harbour, I Want Music and Lots of It
The latest Sydney New Years Eve outdoors venue is not around the harbour at all.
NYE in the Park, (heads up: clicking on the site opens a video with music so hit your mute button if you don’t want sound) in Victoria Park in Sydney’s inner west, is a giant garden party with two stages of live music and a festival-size lineup of bands.
DJs galore, plenty of place to dance, lots of bars and food for sale. It even has its own fireworks display, although you’ll get the big one as well – just look up towards midnight.
Tickets start at $79 for this curated mix of local & international names. In 2017 these include DJ Hot Tub Time Machine doing one of his signature party sets – a 2 hour journey from the 60s to today. VIP tickets $149.
Want to Watch for Free?
You can also find good free vantage spots for Sydney New Years Eve outdoors fireworks watching. Yes you will need to get there early but hey, it’s free, and you don’t have to decide where you’ll go until the day.