Deciding how to spend New Year’s Eve in Sydney

Sydney fireworks

Sydney on NYE is a bucket list item. Choosing how to spend the night is a huge decision for most visitors and often a pretty expensive one so I have put together some questions that will help you pinpoint what you might want to do. 

If you are planning on being in Sydney for the first time and maybe only time, you are probably even more keen to get your plans sorted. If you already know what you want to check out the detailed information, including what’s still available, check out my main NYE page

Still not sure? Then ask yourself the following questions….

Do you want to see the fireworks in the outdoors but on dry land?

If the answer is yes, you have two choices

A. Plan to visit one of the free NYE areas and take your own picnic

If you are hoping for a cheap night under the stars, you will need to be organised and plan to get to your viewing spot early. There are both alcohol-free areas and a limited number of areas where you can bring your own drinks along. There are also catered areas where you can buy drinks. Drinks at these spots are pretty pricey, but it does mean the crowd is a little less rowdy than the BYO places. I have done a rundown of the main free viewing spots here


B. Part with some $$$ for a ticket to one of the catered outdoor areas.

This will get you a prime position and a little more standing room per person. Among the best of these are the Opera Bar Party, the Taronga Zoo NYE packages ($165-$500) or the offerings in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Be aware most of these go on sale in October sell out quite quickly.

Do you want to watch the Sydney fireworks from the on harbour?

Prices for spending New Year’s Eve out on the water start at around $250 and to up to over $1000.  You can also rent private boats upwards of 10k if you have cash to splash (oh and if you do can we come too!)

So lets go through the options here beginning with the most affordable.

Join a family and budget friendly BYO outing from Beyond the Wharf and Sydney Harbour Ferries

Sydney Harbour fireworks Ferry view

Priced a lot more reasonably than most harbour cruises this is a BYO affair. There are two sailings; you choose between either the 9 pm show or the midnight fireworks shows. Along with being alcohol-free, there are four pickup points, so you need not trek into Circular Quay if you live close to one of the other locations. The website gives clear details of where the ferries will be for the fireworks shows.

The departure points are Rose Bay, Manly, Meadowbank and Circular Quay. Tickets priced from $125 for kids on the 8 pm ferry to $200 for all 11 pm tickets. Thanks to Beyond the wharf I was a guest on the Rose Bay ferry a few years ago and really enjoyed it. You can read my full review here.  There are now also options for family cruises with Manly Fast Ferries also.

Book on a cruise with a meal and drinks package

These start from about $350 and go all the way to $1400+ with buffets, à la carte menus and BBQ’s. Most deals include a basic drinks package.

The following operators are best known;

There are many more and the quality varies so make sure you have checked out online reviews or ask a local in our FB community if they have heard of the company.

Hire a water taxi or rent boat and sail yourself.

  • Yellow Water Taxis are offering tickets for a spot on the harbour for the 9 pm family fireworks show for only $175 adult and $99 for kids. Midnight $350
  • Water Taxi’s combined have various packages, it’s best to contact them directly.
  • You can rent a vessel from Sydney Harbour escapes – They have boats for from 4 to 800 and lots of individually ticketed boats available.

If you have your own boat check out this great advice from Amy at Out Chasing Stars about how to watch from the water on your own boat.

Would you like to watch the fireworks from inside the Opera House?

Opera Australia Performances

Opera Australia has 2 performances on NYE a gala concert and a full opera. You must buy tickets for one of these two shows to be able to buy tickets for the fireworks party that is held in the foyer overlooking the harbour at midnight. Considering the prices of most cruises, this is fairly reasonable. Visit the Sydney Opera House website for details.

Book one of the restaurants or bars at the Opera House

Opera Bar, Opera Kitchen and Portside all have events on the Opera House site.  Prices start around $400.  Read more here

Do you want to dance the night away but see watch them big show at midnight?

There is a variety of dance party options each year including venues like Luna Park, Opera bar and other harbour-side bars and clubs. Check the list on this post for more details

Have you booked your room?

NYE is the busiest time of year for booking accommodation in Sydney. You do need to book months in advance if you want to stay in the inner city area and most hotels have a minimum stay requirement. I have a post that explains the pros and cons of the different areas to stay in Sydney and also a long list of good budget hotels in Sydney.

Need help planning your NYE in Sydney? Join our Sydney Expert Facebook Group where you can ask questions, stay up to date with what’s happening in Sydney and meet a bunch of friendly locals just waiting to share their advice!


  1. Hello there, any news on potentioan bars clubs where we can view the dispays outside aswell? thank you

    • Hi Simon,
      You could try Cruise Bar at Circular Quay. It is right on the waterfront at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Otherwise mingle with the crowds at any of the Rocks pubs then walk out to the street for the main event. Be warned though it gets really squashy and pretty rowdy in the Rocks pubs on NYE

  2. I won’t be in Sydney for New Year’s, but I have seen the fireworks on TV. They are always spectacular.

  3. I have never been to Sydney before but hope to make it there for a visit one of these days. Sounds like New Year’s might be a great time to visit as long as you plan ahead.

  4. NYE Under the Stars was an inaugural event – maybe next year will be better…

    Food queues – as if it wasn’t bad enough to have to wait nearly an hour in the main food queue, imagine to then see trays of food being taken out amongst the crowd. The food on these was snapped up before the server had a chance to walk very far. A great idea in concept re RSA but given the stationary queue for the food, surely the food could’ve gone to the stall?
    Drinks queue – this moved quickly and the staff were friendly
    Toilet queue – how on earth did anyone think that 20 toilets + 1 disabled toilets would be enough for a capacity of 1,500??!?!? It’s lucky this was a mature and respectful crowd as otherwise, it could easily have kicked off with the frustration of this.
    Food & Drinks – Good enough food once you got it although the sandwich was more bread than filling; Not a large selection of drinks, the measures were small and a 4 drink limit would have been better than 3
    Staff – The people collecting rubbish, at the entry gate and those at the oyster and drinks counters were great but those at the food stall were stressed out by the lack of food.

    Of the 5 hours there, I wouldn’t be surprised if half of it was spent in a queue and that’s not what I had in mind for a great night out. Having had a far superior experience at Midnight at the Oasis last year, that is certainly the one I’d be recommending to friends in the future

    • Thanks Karrie for sharing your experience. I hope you have also shared it with the event organisers. As you said being the first year hopefully they will learn from this. I was on a ferry with Beyond the Wharf and except for the complete lack of alcohol (which had its benefits), it was great.

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