If you are going to be in one of the greatest cities in the world on New Year’s Eve you are probably wondering about the best way to spend the night. So many questions spring to mind,
What is the best fireworks vantage point? Which restaurants have the best view? Should you go on a boat on the Sydney Harbour? When should you book your hotel?
Well, I am going to attempt to answer all these questions and more below. You might want to grab a drink…. this is a long post!
Information is correct as of May 15, 2018. Events will be added as details become available. Some tickets are on sale now. Check each listing below for more information. I have included the sold-out dates from last year to give you an idea how early you need to commit.
- Sydney Harbour Fireworks Vantage Points
- New Years Eve 2018 in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens
- Choosing a Sydney Harbour Cruise for NYE?
- New Year’s Eve at the Sydney Opera House 2018
- Restaurants with a view of Sydney Harbour for New Year’s Eve 2018
- Concerts and Parties on NYE in Sydney 2018
- Accessible Areas – Wheelchair access for the NYE Fireworks
Sydney Harbour Fireworks Vantage Points
When, where and how to watch the fireworks on Sydney Harbour
Sydney City Council stages the Sydney fireworks on NYE, and each year they create a brilliant website that has maps of the vantage points and rules for each viewing point. The 2018 site is not yet live and much improved on last year with lots more details. You can quickly search for accessible areas, areas where you can drink and
There has been a significant increase in alcohol-free areas over the last few years so make sure you check the maps on the city of Sydney website for the rules before you head to your favourite spot. There are no free official areas where you can bring in your own drinks (BYO).
The main thing to know is that the city is very crowded on NYE, lots of roads are closed, and most people travel by public transport. The buses and trains will be really full and moving around the city between 8 pm and 1 am is quite difficult. That said, it is still worth being there. You just need to plan in advance what you are going to do, where you will meet and what you will eat and drink.
You can bring your own food into almost all vantage points, but most do not allow you to bring your own drinks. They do however sell them at ridiculous prices inside some of the sites. To be safe check the NYE in Sydney website for the latest information on alcohol restrictions.
There are great viewing areas on both sides of the harbour so my strong recommendation is to stick to the side that you are staying on. Getting back across the bridge after it’s all over is tedious. My personal preference is to be able to see the front of the Harbour Bridge if possible; this is where the main climax of the fireworks takes place, and it’s usually spectacular. I think it’s a must for international visitors.
In no particular order, my favourite spots are:
North side of the Harbour
- Cremorne Point Reserve – it’s an alcohol-free zone these days but still a beautiful place to view the action. Get there early – like before noon as only 5000 people are allowed. FYI there is no direct view of the Harbour Bridge from here.
- Bradfield Park Milson’s Point – Room for 50,000 – no BYO alcohol – separate ticketing for North Sydney Pool. Access here is usually fine until late afternoon.
- Bradley’s Head Mosman – This once free area now has some pretty steep entry fees. There are three ticketed areas. The Amphitheatre has the best views and tickets are Adults are $79, and kids are $39. The Mast Precinct is $49 for adults and $18 for kids. Finally, Athol Lawn is $33 for adults and $18 for kids. No alcohol is allowed at these venues, and there is capacity for approx 5000. Tickets sold out last year on 26/12/17
South side of the Harbour
- Mrs Macquarie’s Point – this was once my favourite spot, these days I am not so sure. The reserve fills up and closes by 4-5 pm most years so get here really early – and it’s no longer BYO so bring $$$ if you want to drink – capacity 19,000. Read my review of 2011 NYE at Mrs Macquarie’s Point if you are thinking of heading here. Please note I have not spent NYE here for 5 years and things change so consider more current reviews that have been less positive. Things like restricted views due to the trees that have grown to cover much of the space and a very full-on party atmosphere due to the popularity with backpackers means this may not be the right place for everyone.
- Sydney Opera House – Any free area around the Opera House, is beyond hectic on NYE – it’s THE best view, but this is THE most crowded place you can imagine however if you don’t mind crowded the buzz here is incredible. The ticketed areas are a different story and outlined below.
- Dudley Page Reserve – This reserve in the Eastern suburbs offers great views of the city. Tickets are on sale $40 for adults and $18 for kids. Usually still available until the end of December. Last year this sold out 29/12
West of the Harbour
- Elkington Park, Balmain – Free site, no glass or alcohol. Good family friendly place. Slightly restricted views of the city. Capacity 3000.
- Birchgrove – Free site with no glass or alcohol. Good shade for hot sunny days. Capacity 5000. This site has a good view of the western side of the Harbour Bridge
- Barangaroo – West of the Harbour Bridge – Barangaroo Reserve opened for the first time last year, and it sold out pretty quickly. It was a great hit so expect it to go more quickly this year. Keep an eye on the Barangaroo website or sign up for their newsletter to be the first to know when they are available. Tickets $35 each. Last year this sold out by early November
- Goat Island – A small island located directly west of the Bridge and almost entirely in line with it. You have a fantastic view although you do miss out on the light display on the front of the Bridge. You can read my separate review of NYE on Goat Island and see what I thought. Fewer than 800 tickets are sold, and there is plenty of space to move about unlike most other harbour venues. Tickets go on sale in early October. Being the cheapest harbour island option, these often sell out quickly. You can BYO everything and tickets cost $202 for adults. Usually sells out in a week or two.
New Years Eve 2018 in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens
Watching the fireworks from The Royal Botanic Gardens is like sitting in the dress circle. They have three paid options for ticketed entry to their amazing locations for those who are not members of the “Friends of the Botanic Gardens”. I have to tell you this is my favourite place. If you are planning for next year, I suggest you register here to be advised when tickets are available. 2018 tickets are not yet on sale.
Midnight at the Oasis
Located at the First Fleet Steps south of Mrs Macquarie’s Point this site offers great views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge together. They almost look like they are sitting one in front of the other.
- Includes a three-course meal and a midnight snack.
- Drinks are not included though so it might not be the best bet if you want to drink the night away as the prices will be steep I am sure.
- This is an adult only event.
Cost: Tickets cost A$430 and sold out in mid/late December last year. I think this event is a great value considering the location.
Lawn with a view
Located on the lawn outside Government House and directly above the Sydney Opera House – a box seat view.
- Very popular – in 2017 this was one of the first areas to sell out.
- All ages event
Cost: Adult tickets are $340.
Fleet Steps North, Mrs Macquaries Point. This is an over 18s only area. Includes food but drinks are from a cash bar. Tickets in 2017 sold out 17/10
A circus theme event held on the lawn above the Opera House
- Picnic style meal
- Cash bar
- Great reviews for the 2017 event from several of our Sydney Expert community members.
If you are planning on viewing the fireworks from anywhere within the gardens, either paid or unpaid, download a map for entry times and walking routes for the fireworks viewing locations.
Choosing a Sydney Harbour Cruise for NYE?
If you want to be on the water under the fireworks, then you are looking at somewhere between $250 and A$500 per person for a basic food and drink package. All the leading tour operators offer cruises on Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve with some of the big name boats charging up to A$1200 per person. For that, you get a 6-hour cruise with a five-course meal and drinks. This really is great to experience Sydney on NYE if you can afford it. Just do your homework and make sure you chose a vessel that is suited to your musical/food tastes. 20 something’s may not like to listen to a 60’s band all night 😉 just like 50+ might not like 5 hours of dance music.
At about 9.20pm after the first round of fireworks, many of the vessels on the harbour turn on their lights and parade up and down the harbour until the midnight fireworks.
You can view the official Harbour of Light parade vessels for more details if you would like to join one of them.
2018 NYE Cruises
These traditionally go on sale quite early, and most are on sale now.
- Majestic Cruises have two cruises, a 5-course sit-down dinner for $1000 (no kids under 7yrs). One of the two boats is already sold out. This company typically sells out quite early.
- Harbour City Ferries this year’s event details are not available yet. Last year they offered three charter ferry services with 1,550 tickets available in total. There are sailings for both the 9 pm and midnight fireworks. First sailing for the 9 pm fireworks departs at 8 pm and returns at 9:30 pm. The second sailing leaves at 11 pm and returns at 12.30pm giving you time to have a nice dinner out before you board. Tickets range from $125 for kids on the 8 pm ferry to $499 for tickets that include the Harbour of Light parade and both fireworks shows. These boats are BYO food and are alcohol-free. Sign up for the newsletter on their site for ticket sale notification.
- Captain Cook Cruises have five cruises on offer from the BYO budget-priced Rocket for a BYO food and drink cruise to the standing buffet on the Matilda 3 for $849. A seafood buffet will set you back $925, and an à la carte meal on their best vessel will cost up to $1499 Guaranteed window seats $99 extra. BYO cruises $550 still available This is one of the last companies to sell out – I think because they have quite a few boats and they are on the pricey end of the scale. Last year tickets were still available on NYE.
- The Pontoon Ballroom vessel from Sydney Harbour Escapes has a $620 cocktail food and drinks cruise in their glass-sided boat. 2018 options not yet available.
- Vagabond Cruises has three options with early bird prices on sale now ranging from $625 up
- RhythmBoat Cruises – has a cruise for $520 that includes seafood buffet and beer and wine. These sold out by boxing day last year
- Quayside Charters – Have a range of boats on offer with prices from $550 for their smallest boat right up to $750 for a glass boat in the light parade. ??? unclear if sold out or not 31/12
- Manly Fast Ferry Cruises – two types of cruises – one that takes in both shows and a cheaper alternative that gives you a choice of either the 9pm or the midnight fireworks. BYO early bird tickets are $175 for the 9 pm show and $275 for the midnight show are on sale now. In 2017 these sold out in late December.
- Fantasea – A full range of options from the 90min family cruise for $650 (2A+2C) and $895 for the dinner, drinks and DJ. They also have a 9 pm family cruise for $295
- Fusion Cruises – 6-hour cruise with food and beverage packages $595 adults and $495 kids under 12. 2018 information not yet available.
Tickets are on sale now, and all but the most expensive cruises usually sell out pretty by late October so if you are considering on lower-priced options buy early. Be careful about purchasing from a smaller operator who does not have much history as there were issues last year with some people losing their money on a no-show boat.
Check out Sydney Boat Hire Another option is to hire a water taxi for either the 9 pm show for about $175 or $295 for the midnight show.
In 2014 I met a reader of this blog at the NYE fireworks who had followed by suggestion and booked a Harbour City ferry –my first meet with a real-life reader. Very cool 🙂 We had a fantastic view of the Harbour Bridge, and it was great fun to be in the middle of the action.
New Year’s Eve at the Sydney Opera House 2018
Spend NYE at the Sydney Icon
- The Opera Gala – Opera Australia hosts the party here… This year you can choose between a full performance of The Merry Widow or the Opera Gala which features works from a variety of composers. The interval is timed for the 9 pm fireworks with viewing from the glass balcony at the front of the Opera House. Along with the Opera events, you then need to add tickets to the Midnight Party $329 which includes canapes, drinks and live entertainment from 10:30 pm, or the platinum package for $1399 that includes opera tickets, dinner, drinks and the party! To attend any of the NYE Opera events, you must have tickets for one of the Opera performances. Dinner packages are also available from $399. The Opera Gala sold out just after Christmas last year.
- NYE Portside – Free-flowing Moet, catering by Lauren Murdoch, entertainment featuring soul, bass and funk style music and one of the best views in town. Over 18s only. Early bird tickets $595 for an extra $200 you can have a seat in the VIP area. Tickets sold out late December. Members of the Sydney Expert FB community rated this event very highly.
- Opera Bar – I love Opera Bar… it’s the bar with the white umbrellas that sits next to quayside of the Opera House and the ultimate outdoor venue for a NYE on the harbour. In 2017 tickets are $460 (+ $4 booking fee). This includes express VIP entry to Sydney Opera House area, live entertainment and a 5-hour canapé package with finger food and pizza – drinks are not included. I have reviewed NYE at Opera Bar after my visit several years back. I loved it. You will need to get there really early if you want a seat as seating is limited. Doors open at 6 pm. They usually go on sale in early October and last year sold out on Boxing day.
- Opera Kitchen – Same great view as Opera Bar. See the website for details or sign up to be notified when tickets are available. Tickets are $1300 per person. These also don’t appear until after October.
Restaurants with a view of Sydney Harbour for New Year’s Eve 2018
Good food with a view of the harbour fireworks is possible.
There are a few waterfront restaurants that will earn you a view of the fireworks with your meal, but you will pay for it. Having said that at least, you are guaranteed a seat, something to eat, that in most cases will be pretty sensational, and you don’t have to get there at midday to secure your place. I am not going to tell you which is best because I honestly don’t know. While I have eaten at most of these places during the year I have never done on NYE – I wish!
Most restaurants have not been fully booked before Christmas in earlier years, so it is not as vital to book early for restaurants. I would suggest if you have your heart set on a particular place, and you have a small party of the 2-3 book early as smaller tables seem to go first. Many need full payment at time of booking and are not refundable so choose carefully! I will update 2018 pricing later in the year when it becomes available.
South Side of the Harbour
- The Sydney Cove Oyster Bar is a picture perfect location with full view of the bridge and outdoors under the stars. In 2017 an eight-course degustation menu was $750 per head and $650 per head for all other tables. A $150 deposit is required upon booking.
- Cafe Sydney – Right above Circular Quay – fantastic view and the times I have been there I have had excellent food. Contact them directly for information on NYE. No tables of 2 are available. 2017 was $810pp
- Pier One Sydney Harbour – I have not eaten here, but the location is great – You will not see the front of the bridge, but you will be in the middle of the action. Their 2017 packages are on sale now. There are two options – A degustation menu with drinks from $699 or a more casual affair with Paella and burgers, drinks and DJ for $399.
- Aria has the best view of the front of the bridge. Canapé s and pre-dinner drinks followed by a four-course tasting menu with wines was $1200 pp. They also have an under 12 years price of $600. All bookings are prepaid. Available now.
- Altitude – perhaps the most incredible view in Sydney with a price tag to match, seriously check their website… the view is amazing. A window seat $1300, View seat $1150 – 7-course degustation with wine.
- 360 Bar and Dining at Sydney Tower offers spectacular harbour views from Sydney’s highest vantage point and music. On offer is a degustation dinner including wines. Tickets$699 (no under 18yrs) from 8pm-1am Last year did not sell out before the day so usually no rush on this one.
- The Dockside Group have some venues at The Star Casino, Darling Harbour and in the Rocks including The Italian Village and Wolfies. Great view of the Opera House, The Harbour Bridge is partially obscured. Very reasonable pricing at $255 for the Rocks and under $200 for most of the Darling Harbour locations.
North Side of the Harbour
- Ripples at Milsons Point A degustation menu including beer and wine for $695 per person is on offer here. Fantastic view of the Opera House and back of the harbour bridge.
- Ripples at Chowder Bay – A view of the harbour and the fireworks but not of the icons. $225 for dinner and unlimited drinks.
- Q Station – Choose from a seafood buffet ($199) or a 4-course degustation($229) Good views over the harbour – quite distant but still very nice. Options for families and adults only.
Concerts and Parties on NYE in Sydney 2018
Sydney has something to suit everyone
If you would prefer something a little more structured and planned you could try one of these events. These prices are from 2016. These event details are usually released in Sept or October.
- Harbour Party at Luna Park – PNAU, hip-hop artist Tkay Maidza and several DJ’s will entertain the crowds at Luna Park. Great views too. General Admission on sale now $149 several VIP packages also on offer. This sold out early December in 2017
- Sydney Harbour Islands – There are four other harbour islands, Clark (DJ, band, food & drinks $395), Shark ($232), Cockatoo (camping packages) Tickets are on sale now. Children under five yrs are generally free but check booking conditions for each location. The less expensive ones sell out very quickly. All islands were sold out by 26/11/17
- Goat Island – family-friendly BYO ($135-$202) – see my review of my Goat Island NYE – Sold out 17/11/2017
- Fort Denison’s Black Tie Gala package was $1250 last year, and surprisingly tickets run out quickly.
- Darling Harbour will have free family areas as well as lots of restaurants offering special packages. It’s also home to several nightclubs so there is something for everyone, but you should know that you don’t get the harbour experience from here. They have fireworks but in my opinion, it’s just not the same, particularly for first-time visitors.
- Taronga Zoo – Three different packages available a total of just over 2000 tickets. Silver Reserve tickets with some restricted views started at A$175.00; Gold Reserve $275 unrestricted views. Both Silver and Gold tickets are BYO. The diamond reserve was $510. All tickets include entertainment, zoo access, free parking and complimentary transport from the car park. The zoo is a perfect site, and limited numbers mean you won’t feel too crowded. Sold out
- Sydney Observatory – over 18s event with DJs, finger food and beverage package, also a late night snack and photo booth. Sold out
- Destination NYE at Cruise Bar – right on Circular Quay this is a great place with a really affordable price. Some tickets still available 31/12
- Pyrmont Point Wharf – Tickets include a Jimmy Liks Menu, including a salad, a main & a dessert and a free glass of sparkling wine, wine, or soft drink, exclusive use cash bar throughout the night and exclusive toilets (yes this is a big deal lol) $176 for adults and $154 for kids. Sold out 30/12
Accessible Areas – Wheelchair access for the NYE Fireworks
There are six areas that are listed as fully accessible. You need to make a booking for these areas on this form. These areas all feature accessible toilets
- Mary Booth Reserve at Kirribilli on the northern side of the harbour
- Mrs Macquaries Point in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
- Pirrama Park at Pyrmont
- Sydney Opera House
- Cahill Expressway (Balloted)
- Barangaroo (ticketed)
The Official Sydney NYE website has more details on these areas and how to reserve tickets.
To sum up
- My biggest tip is to plan early unless you do you may find there are limited choices many events sell out weeks and sometimes months in advance.
- If you are reading this in December, don’t despair there are lots of free vantage points to see the world-famous fireworks, and it will all work out on the night if you just have a plan.
- Decide which part of the city to stay in and secure your hotel. I have reviewed a long list of budget hotels in Sydney if you need don’t want to max out your credit card.
- If you want to book, a hostel be prepared for minimum booking periods of up to a week.
- If you have a long-lost relative now is a good time to rekindle that relationship 😉
In 2016 year I watched the action from the Cahill Expressway after scoring some free tickets in the public ballot. Follow their Facebook page to hear when the ballot opens.
In 2017 I watched from Barangaroo and will have my review up shortly but feel free to ask me questions about it on the FB group.
I have reviewed my last 4 NYE outings so make sure you check them for full details.
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