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 could take a while!
Updated: 26 November 2019
Events will be added as details become available. Check each listing below for more information.
If after reading all this, you still can’t decide then you are welcome to pop over to our Sydney Expert Facebook Group and ask any specific questions you might have.
Sydney Harbour Fireworks Vantage Points
When, where and how to watch the fireworks on Sydney Harbour
Are the NYE fireworks free?
Yes they are. Sydney City Council stages the Sydney fireworks on NYE, and while the actual show is free, each year the number of free viewing sites decreases.
The council created a brilliant website that has maps of the vantage points and rules for each viewing point. You can quickly search for accessible areas, areas where you can drink and get an indication of the time they expect the site to be full. On NYE they update this information in real-time.
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. You can bring your own food into almost all vantage points, but most do not allow you to bring your drinks. They do however sell them at inflated prices inside some of the sites.
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. Buses and trains will be full and moving around the city between 8 pm, and 1 am is quite tricky.
That said, it is still worth being there. You need to plan what you are going to do, where you will meet and what you will eat and drink.
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 central climax of the firework show takes place, and it’s usually spectacular. I think it’s a must for international visitors.
In no particular order, key spots are:
Northside of the Harbour
There have been some changes on this side of the harbour for 2019-20. All of these events are glass and alcohol-free and tickets cost $10 plus a booking fee of $2.75. Gates open at 8 am at these locations.
Bradfield Park Milson’s Point
Bradfield Park has a capacity 22,000 – This is mostly a western side view of the Harbour Bridge and restricted view of the Opera House for all but the earliest arrivals. Access here is usually ok until late afternoon. Last year pre ticketing it reached capacity at 7.30pm. This year Bradfield Park will be ticketed for the first time so things will be a bit different perhaps. Tickets are on sale now.
Mary Booth Reserve
Great views of both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, no shade as you wait, capacity is 3000. Historically this site fills early, but it will be ticketed for the first time this year. Tickets are on sale now sold out!
Blues Point Reserve
This alcohol-free ticketed area run by North Sydney Council has space for 8000. Tickets cost $12.75 (inclusive of booking fee) and are on sale now.
North Sydney Pool
North Sydney Pool’s event has been cancelled for this year.
Cremorne Point Reserve
Even though there is no full direct view of the Harbour Bridge this is still a lovely spot to spend New Year’s Eve. It’s an alcohol-free zone these days but there is a fantastic view of the Opera House. Get there early as there is only space for 5000 people. Free!
Southside of the Harbour
Mrs Macquarie’s Point
This was once my favourite spot; however, these days I am not so sure. The reserve is free, but it fills up early and closes by 2 pm most years. The capacity is 13,500, and while the site officially opens at 10 am, people line up from before dawn. BYO is not permitted so bring $$$ if you want to drink.
Read my review of 2011 NYE at Mrs Macquarie’s Point if you are thinking of heading here. This area was full (1:30 pm) 31/12/18
Please note: I have not spent NYE here for 5 years so consider more current reviews that have been less positive. Things like restricted views because the trees have grown to cover much of the space and a very full-on party atmosphere due to the popularity of backpackers means this may not be the right place for everyone.
Sydney Opera House Free Area
Any free area around the Opera House is beyond hectic on NYE. It’s a great view, but this is THE most crowded place you can imagine, however, if you don’t mind crowds the buzz here is incredible.
The area that is not ticketed opens at 7.30 am and has a capacity of 7000. Camping out is not permitted. Alcohol is on sale (no byo).
In 2018 the non-ticketed area was full by 11 am. For that reason, it is worth checking out the full range of ticketed areas outlined below if you want to be near the Opera House.
East Circular Quay
Bridge view only and another completely alcohol-free area. This site is free, but it is also ticketed this year. Gates will open at 10 am so even with tickets you will still have to get here early for the best spots.
This is the roadway that runs above Circular Quay Station. On NYE they close the road and turn it into a fabulous viewing point. Tickets are free, but it is a ballot process. The ballot is technically for Australian residents although the year I was there I met many visitors.
Capacity is 3000 for each show. I was lucky enough to score five tickets two years ago, and it was fantastic fun. It is run by the RMS (Roads and Maritime Services). A couple of things to note: It is an alcohol-free zone, you only have tickets to either the 9 pm or the midnight shows – you can’t stay for both. The ballot is open now.
Campbells Cove in the Rocks
Campbells Cove puts you right in the heart of the action. This area has a fantastic view of the Opera House and a good view of the bridge for most. The site has a capacity of 8000 and tickets cost $10 for kids and $20 for adults. Campbell’s Cove is an alcohol-free zone. There is also no shade, so bringing sunscreen is advised. Gates open at noon and tickets are on sale now.
Hickson Road Reserve
This is the grassed area directly to the front of the Hyatt Hotel where the palm trees are. There is capacity for 2000 people, and the site will open at 5 pm. Tickets were $125 per adults and $62.50 for kids. Hampers are for sale — Drinks will be on sale but there is no byo alcohol allowed.
This is the park under the Harbour Bridge. It has very close views of the Bridge and excellent views of the Opera House and remains a free and unticketed area this year. The space will open at 12.30pm and has a capacity of 38,000. Last year it reached capacity at 8 pm and is expected to do so again around that time this year. Note this area is an alcohol-free zone.
The best option for late arrivals did not fill until 10.30pm last year. There are limited Harbour Bridge views and no view of the Opera House but there is a great party atmosphere.
McKell Park, Darling Point
Opens at midday, alcohol-free, byo picnic, space for 1000, this site mostly attracts locals.
Christison Park, Vaucluse
A local park with fabulous, but distant harbour views. Gates open at noon, alcohol permitted.
Dudley Page Reserve
This reserve in the Eastern suburbs offers excellent views of the city, and if you want a low-stress venue, this could be it. The capacity is 2500, and last year, tickets did not sell out until 27th December. Tickets are on sale now. Adult tickets cost $42.86 and concession tickets cost $22.45. Tickets are free for children under 5.
West of the Harbour
With North Sydney Council introducing ticketing for their free areas this year expect the western side of the harbour to become more crowded than previous years when those who have not been able to plan in advance find themselves looking for free options.
West of the Harbour Bridge – Barangaroo Reserve opened is fast becoming a popular site for families, and it sold out pretty quickly last year. The site is ticketed for 10,000 and doesn’t feel too full. Adult tickets cost $41.80 and are on sale now. Last year this sold out by early November.
Elkington Park, Balmain
Free site, no glass or alcohol. Good family-friendly place. No views of the Opera House or Harbour Bridge. Great fireworks views but restricted views of the city. Capacity 3000.
Free site with no glass or alcohol. Pleasant shade for hot sunny days. Capacity 5000. This site has a good view of the western side of the Harbour Bridge but no view of the Opera House.
Illoura Reserve is a popular spot with locals, capacity for 2850 people. Alcohol-free, views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge but not the Opera House.
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. Capacity for 40,000 people here. They have fireworks, but in my opinion, it’s just not the same, and I do not recommend it for first-time visitors.
New Year’s Eve at the Sydney Opera House 2019
Performances, Parties and more
Opera Australia is the hosts of NYE at the Opera House. There are two options for those of you who want to attend the official New Year Sydney Opera House performances.
Read these descriptions carefully, so you know exactly what you are buying to avoid disappointment.
Opera Australia has two shows and a party for sale. You can not attend the party unless you have tickets to one of the performances. When you purchase your Opera ticket, you have the option to add a ticket for the midnight party.
The Midnight Party
The Midnight Party is an add-on to your performance ticket and costs $349. This includes canapes, drinks and live entertainment from 10:30 pm, or the platinum package for $1422 and includes opera tickets, dinner, drinks and the party! You can also purchase pre-theatre dinner packages too for $399. Tickets are on sale now, and the least expensive opera seats are selling fast.
Tickets to the Midnight party do not guarantee you a space on the outdoor balcony. I suggest if this is important, you make sure you buy an aisle seat by an exit door near the foyer to make a dash as it is first in best dressed and many guests have repeat ticket holders and know the drill. You can see from inside – the walls and roof are glass. I just wanted to be clear, so you know exactly what you get.
If you choose not to attend the Opera Party, then you can still access the southern foyer bar and outdoor area after the performance, but you may not have a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Opera Gala
The Opera Gala which features works from a variety of composers is held in the Concert Hall. Interval is timed for the 9 pm fireworks with viewing from the Northern Foyer and Balcony at the front of the Opera House. Tickets start at $199 for standing room and wheelchairs, C Reserve is $299. A reserve is $399.
Set in 1930s Berlin La Bohème is a classic, and one even opera novices will enjoy. Tickets from $299 up to $499. These tickets sell quite quickly, and only often single tickets are available by mid-October.
This is a 5-star event, with free-flowing French Champagne, canapés & substantial food grazing stations, entertainment featuring 3 of the cities hottest DJs and one of the best views in town. Over 18s only. Tickets are $815 Members of the Sydney Expert FB community rated this event very highly.
You can buy your tickets here Still available 31/10/2019
NYE Soiree at the Opera House
Be the first partygoers to see in the New Year the Sydney Opera House brand new event space, the Yallamundi Rooms. Located at the front of the northern end of the point this event is on prime NYE real estate. This is where I intend to go this year!
Only 350 tickets are available and the $650 (+booking fee) includes:
- Free-flowing French Champagne, beer and wine
- Canapés and grazing food stations
- Private access to the ABC NYE Concert
- Access to the Northern Broadwalk where there is a view of the City of Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks
- $50 donation to ABC’s nominated charities
- Large event screens of the outside fireworks
- DJ performance from midnight till closing
- 6-hour deluxe service of unlimited food and drinks 8pm to 1.30am
I love the Opera Bar… it’s the bar with the umbrellas that sit next to the quayside of the Opera House and the ultimate outdoor venue for NYE on the harbour. In 2018 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.
Just along from Opera Bar and with the same great view. Tickets are available now Great views, especially from the upper tables and guaranteed seating. VIP waterside tickets are $1,295pp for food, unlimited top-shelf drinks and perfect views. Food looks good and is reportedly substantial.
Last year there were two price points (the lower level at $800), but as yet there is no mention of this on the site, so I wonder if they are selling but upper and lower level seats at the high price. I would not pay it for the lower level and would choose something else if I could not be guaranteed being at the front of the seating.
Bennelong is the restaurant inside the small shell of the Sydney Opera House. Executive chef Peter Gilmore (Quay) runs the show here too, and his food never disappoints. I have eaten here several times and always loved it. This year choose from either:
- $1,200 per person for the cured and cultured counter dining event
- $1,490 per person for restaurant dining which canapes, a 5-course menu with matching wines and glass of Charles Heidsieck champagne
New Year’s Eve 2019-20 in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens
Watching the fireworks from The Royal Botanic Gardens is like sitting in the dress circle. This year they have five paid options for ticketed entry to their amazing locations for those who are not members of the “Friends of the Botanic Gardens”. Tickets are on sale now. 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 presale tickets are released.
The Point (Mrs Macquaries Point)
The Point is a pretty chilled event right by the Fleet Steps North at Mrs Macquaries Point. In my opinion, this is the best view of the Gardens locations because of the way the Opera House and Harbour Bridge line up. Entry is between 5:30pm and 7:30pm, and the party ends at 1 am.
- Funk, soul & reggae-influenced music
- Price includes two free drinks – extra drinks from a cash bar
- 3-course meal – you collect from international food stalls
- This is an over 18s only area.
- Unreserved seating – you can also bring a blanket to sit on
- 1km walk from the nearest public transport – mainly level ground.
If anyone is feeling generous or needs a plus one I am available 🙂 This is one of the first Gardens areas to sell out. Sold Out 31/10/19
Midnight at the Oasis
Located at the First Fleet Steps south of Mrs Macquarie’s Point this site offers excellent views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge together. They almost look like they are sitting one in front of the other. Entry is between 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm. Key points:
- Reserved dining table seating – book early for groups
- Tickets include a three-course meal and a midnight snack.
- Drinks are not included – so it might not be the best bet if you want to drink the night away as prices are $$$
- Live entertainment
- This is an adult-only event.
Cost: Tickets cost A$460 and sold out in mid/late December last year. I think this event is a great value considering the location. Tickets go on sale Monday 16 September at 9 am AEST. Pre-sale tickets were available from 9 am AEST Monday 2 September.
Lawn with a view
A family-friendly event located on Bennelong lawn outside Government House and directly above the Sydney Opera House – a box seat view. Entry is between 7 pm and 9 pm.
- Very popular – in 2018 this was one of the first areas to sell out.
- No entertainment other than the music that goes with the fireworks
- All-ages event
- Mobility assistance is available the site is wheelchair accessible
Cost: $360 + booking fee Tickets go on sale Monday 16 September at 9 am AEST. Pre-sale tickets are available from 9 am AEST Monday 2 September.
A circus-themed event held on the lawn above the Opera House. Entry is between 6 pm and 8 pm, and the party ends at 1.30am.
- Picnic style meal and water – no food or drinks may be bought into the event.
- Cash bar – You must buy all drinks (other than water) on site.
- Roving entertainment, circus-themed games and photo booth.
- There were great reviews for the 2017 event from several of our Sydney Expert community members.
Cost: $350 (incl GST) + booking fee. Tickets go on sale Monday 16 September at 9 am AEST. Pre-sale tickets were available from 9 am AEST Monday 2 September.
NYE Garden Party at The Calyx
A cocktail party in the Calyx building and a night walk through the gardens to view the fireworks show from just behind the Opera House. Entry is from 7.30pm to 9 pm, and the event ends at 12.30am.
- The only gardens event that includes unlimited drinks
- View only the midnight fireworks show from the waterfront; They will broadcast the 9 pm fireworks
- Deluxe finger food served for the duration of the event
- over 18s only
- wheelchair accessible
Cost: $595 (incl GST) + booking fee. Tickets go on sale Monday 16 September at 9 am AEST. Pre-sale tickets were available from 9 am AEST Monday 2 September.
For all the Botanic Gardens events, it is best to buy your tickets as early as possible to avoid disappointment. These events are very well run and get excellent feedback.
The Botanic Gardens Restaurant
Located in the heart of the Botanic Gardens the Restaurant will be offering two options either a 9-course degustation dinner or a cocktail party both with free-flowing beverages and world-class views of the 9 pm & Midnight fireworks from a private viewing lawn on the Sydney Harbour foreshore.
- Over 18 years only
- 6.30pm start for dinner ($600)
- 7 pm start for the cocktail party ($380)
- Private viewing area in the gardens for both fireworks shows
- Both events end at 1 am
The restaurant is sold out, Cocktail Party still available. 17/12/19
New Year’s Eve in the Sydney Harbour National Park and Harbour Islands
ydney Harbour National Park encompasses a substantial part of the harbour foreshore and three harbour islands. These sites are ticketed to control numbers and are relatively well priced considering the views they offer. Children under five yrs are generally free at the National Park venues but check booking conditions for each location. There are usually two ferry times for arrival and departure, and you choose these when you book your tickets.
Tickets for all of these are on sale now! Last year the islands were sold out by 26/11/17
Clark Island Garden Party
Clark Island is the closest of the islands to the Harbour Bridge and has excellent bridge views but offers restricted views of the Opera House as Garden Island blocks it.
- Entertainment includes a DJ (DJ Paul Guy)
- Tickets include food (a three-course meal, consisting of canapés and a cocktail on arrival, a choice of main and dessert) & one drink.
- Cash bar for buying extra drinks.
- Capacity is 480 people making it a great way to avoid crowds.
- Ferries will depart near Circular Quay at 6 pm and 6:45 pm.
Cost: $410.45 for adults, $252.43 for kids (5-15 years), children under 5 are free. Tickets are on sale now. Find more information here.
Shark Island Party
Shark Island is perfectly positioned with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge directly down the harbour.
- Entertainment includes DJs (LUEN, Recess DJs) playing a range of house, disco, funk and soul music on the dancefloor
- Tickets do not include food or drinks, and no BYO food or alcohol is permitted.
- Capacity is 780 people.
Cost: $247. 33 for adults, $175.97 for kids, children under 5 are free. Tickets are on sale now. Find more information here.
Note: Ferries to Shark Island will depart from Rose Bay Wharf. You can also take a bus from the city to reach the wharf but be prepared for a long trip back to town after the event. When we went, it took us over 1.5 hours to get back to the city.
Goat Island Picnic
BYO Picnic – $216.64 adults and $145.28 kids 5-15 yrs. A small island located directly west of the Bridge and almost entirely in line with it. You have a fantastic view of the bridge itself 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 when I spent NYE here. 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 October. This is the cheapest harbour island option, so these tickets often sell out quickly within the first fortnight. Sold out 31/10/19
You can BYO alcohol here. It is not readily wheelchair accessible – there has been no accessible toilet in previous years. Responsible amounts of BYO alcohol permitted.
Bradley’s Head Viewing areas
Located on the North Shore, there are three ticketed areas at Bradley’s Head. The biggest drawback here is transport. Make sure you have considered access before booking these.
The Amphitheatre has the best views and tickets are Adults are $85, and kids are $44. The capacity is 1000 people. These tickets sell out first for this area. Still available 31/10/19
The Mast Precinct is $54 for adults and $28 for kids. You have Harbour Bridge views but only partial Opera House views. Capacity is 1600 and alcohol-free. Still available 31/10/19
Finally, Athol Lawn is $354 for adults and $38 for kids. There is capacity for approx 2500. Same views as the mast but they are somewhat restricted by treetops: Alcohol-free but food and drink for sale.
NYE at Nielsen Park
Located in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney in Vaucluse – ($40 adults, $22 kids 5-15yrs) Great view and a very relaxed vibe make this a good spot for families staying in the east. B.Y.O. Alcohol and food, picnic blanket. Very limited parking – buses do run nearby. Sold out 31/10/19
NYE at Strickland House
Stickland house offers excellent views of the harbour and distance views to the Opera House and the Bridge. The is a BYO event with alcohol permitted. Gates open at 5.30pm and only 1000 tickets are available. You can take the 325 bus to the venue, but getting home without a car could be challenging. Tickets in 2019 $39 for adults $23 for kids Sold Out 31/10/19
Concerts and Parties on NYE in Sydney 2019
Sydney has a New Year’s Eve party to suit everyone!
If you would prefer something a little more structured for your evening, you could try one of these fabulous venues. They usually release these details in Sept or October. Where this year’s pricing is not yet available, I have left 2018 pricing to give you an idea of what to expect.
A Roaring Twenties Party
Do you like the idea of dressing up for the night? This event at the Sir Stamford Hotel in Circular Quay will pay homage to the Great Gatsby. Let the film be your inspiration. There will be live entertainment to keep you busy between the fireworks shows which you can view from the hotel rooftop.
Tickets include food, a 5-hour beverage package, champagne for the midnight toast. Prepare for an evening of international flavours, drinks, live entertainment, casino tables and an exclusive birds-eye view of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks from their rooftop. The event runs from 7 pm to 2 am. Tickets cost $518 (includes booking fee) and are on sale now.
A fantastic choice for families Taronga is well known for its fabulous harbour views. Money raised from these events is used to fund the zoo, so you are also helping a great cause.
Last year there were 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.
Harbour Party at Luna Park
This year Harbour Party entertainment is an all-girl event with the Veronicas’s, Nicole Miller, Nat Conway, KLP and DJ Purple Sneakers on the bill. If you don’t feel like dancing you can check out the rides! The site has great views too. Check out the event map to see how the ticketing works. General Admission on sale now $149 several VIP packages also on offer.
This over 18s event held in the grounds of the Sydney Observatory is a key fundraiser for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. This cocktail party features DJs and photo booth to help you celebrate while you wait for the skies to light up. Tickets are $325 and include a substantial finger food package and beverages (French Champagne, red and white wines, beer, cider and soft drinks) More details Last year tickets did not sell out until 27/12/18
Cruise Bar at Circular Quay
With its position on the Overseas Passenger Terminal at West Circular Quay, this is a great place to see in the New Year. Dance the night away with the hottest DJs including headline act Ron Carroll (USA), Random Soul, DJ Nino Brown and many more. Tickets in 2019 were A$399 VIP package a 3-hour food and beverage package from 6pm-9pm on Level 3 – Free-flowing champagne from 6pm-9pm – Access to all Levels 1, 2 and 3 – 15 DJ’s (House and RNB). General admission tickets $109 (plus booking fee) and includes Glass of sparkling on arrival (before 8pm) – Access to Levels 1 and 2 – 11 DJ’s (House and RNB). Cruise has a slightly limited view of the Harbour Bridge from the balcony but the Opera House view is hard to beat.
Pirama Park Pyrmont
This event provides a western view of the Habour Bridge. There are 800 tickets, priced at $179-200 which include a meal (starter, main course, dessert) and single drink. Details and tickets available here. Last year these tickets did not sell out until 29/12/18.
Park Hyatt Hotel in The Rocks
See in the New Year in style; the Park Hyatt Sydney is collaborating with Moet Hennessy to offer a New Year’s Eve celebration with views like no other, unlimited cocktails, canapes and the live mix of a DJ. Tickets on sale now Adults $550 per person | 18 years and above only. Last year did not sell out until 27/12
Head to the Henry Deane bar on levels 4 and 5 of the hotel for a 4-hour food and drinks package and stunning harbour views. The event runs from 7 pm until 2 am and costs $490 per person No under 18s admitted. Book directly with the venue.
Parties outside the CBD NYE in the Park
If you are not set on being on the harbour on NYE and would prefer to dance the year away, then you might like to consider NYE in the Park. NYE In The Park offers a unique escape from the overcrowded CBD and promises a night of live music across two stages, dancing, gourmet street food and affordable drinks in a spacious, relax setting, topped off with our enormous midnight fireworks display. The Presets, The Jungle Giants, Hayden James, Hot Dub Time Machine and lots more. General admission starts at $79.00 and VIP tickets at $169.
Restaurants with a view of Sydney Harbour for New Year’s Eve 2019
Good food with a view of the harbour fireworks is possible.
There are several 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 the time of booking and are not refundable so choose carefully! I will update 2019 pricing later in the year when it becomes available.
NYE Restaurants on the Southside of the Harbour
NYE Restaurants at Circular Quay
The Sydney Cove Oyster Bar is a picture-perfect location with a full view of the bridge and outdoors under the stars. In 2018 an eight-course degustation menu was $750 per head and $650 per head for all other tables. A $150 deposit is required upon booking.
Aria has the best view of the front of the bridge. Canapé s and pre-dinner drinks followed by a five-course tasting menu with premium drinks is $1450 pp. They also have a premium package for $2020 that includes an Uber voucher for getting home! All bookings are prepaid. Available now.
Cafe Sydney – Right above Circular Quay with a dress circle view. I have eaten here several times and never been disappointed. Contact them directly for information on NYE. Last year it was priced at $880 per person.
Altitude – perhaps the most incredible view in Sydney with a price tag to match, seriously check their website… the view is fantastic. A window seat $1300, View seat $1150 – 7-course degustation with wine.
Sydney Tower on NYE
New Year’s Eve at the Sydney Tower Buffet – This package includes buffet, drinks (beer, wine and soft drinks) and observation deck entry. Adults only.
Also at Sydney Tower is a dinner at 360 Dining, a 6-course degustation with wine in the tower.
O Bar has fantastic views and two menus to offer an 8-course degustation $695 or a chef’s selection of rolling tapas $545 both menus include one drink.
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 2019 packages are on sale now. There are two options – A degustation menu with drinks from $815 or a more casual affair with Paella and burgers, drinks and DJ for $615.
Darling Harbour Restaurants on NYE
The Dockside Group have some venues at The Star Casino, Darling Harbour and in the Rocks
Restaurants on the 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.
New Year’s Eve Harbour Cruises in Sydney
If you are thinking about booking a New Year’s Eve Harbour Cruise, I suggest you head over and read our detailed advice about what to look out for when deciding which cruise operator to book with.
How much do NYE Cruises cost?
If you want to be on the water under the fireworks, then you are looking at somewhere between $250 and A$600 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 is a great way 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 water 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.
2019 NYE Cruises
These traditionally go on sale quite early with early bird prices about a hundred dollars cheaper than final prices.
Majestic Cruises have two cruises, a 5-course sit-down dinner for $1100 (no kids under 7yrs). This company typically sells out quite early.
Harbour City Ferries – Beyond the Wharf Three departure points are available this year. Circular Quay, Rose Bay and Manly. Last year they offered1,550 tickets in total and sold out. 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. In 2018 Tickets ranged from $125 for kids on the 8 pm ferry to $559 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. Read my review of this cruise from 2015.
Captain Cook Cruises have five cruises on offer from the BYO budget-priced Rocket for BYO food and drink cruise to the standing buffet on the Matilda 3 for $849.
The premium vessel the John Cadman 2 which is part of the official Harbour of Light Parade, has a huge open rooftop deck and is exceptionally comfortable is offering a seated seafood buffet, and open bar is $1250. The bathrooms are fantastic, and the boat is very comfortable. Well suited to those wanting a relaxed evening with plenty of seating. I highly recommend this cruise.
A Bella Vista Glassboat cruise offers great views indoors or out this 6-hour cruise leaves from the casino wharf and offers a buffet, open bar, DJ and is a Harbour of Light vessel. $799
Vagabond Cruises has a premium cruise with seafood and meat buffet, open bar (premium drinks included), DJ. Window seating for most tables and three outdoor deck areas. $825
RhythmBoat Cruises – has a cruise for $520 that consists of a seafood buffet and beer and wine. Sold out.
Quayside Charters – Have the Lady Rose for $650 – large rooftop deck and a generous buffet and drinks package.
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 9 pm 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. Cruises that include both shows start at $395. In 2018 these sold out in late December.
Sydney Harbour Tall Ships – Inside the exclusion zone, two boats on sale include dinner, drinks and live music $949 pp
James Craig – Tickets on sale now and include canapés, a buffet dinner, late supper and beverages (beer, wine and soft drinks) $950 each.
Fantasea – A quality operator with a full range of options from the 90min family cruise for $650 (2A+2C) and $850 for the premium vessel with buffet, unlimited drinks and DJ. They also have a 9 pm family cruise for $295
Flagship Cruises Kirralee – If you prefer the idea of a small boat this catamaran holds 30 people and will depart from Balmain. BBQ dinner and BYO drinks. $550 per person
Sydney Sundancer – This motor sailing yacht is offering an intimate night (max 50 people) with an excellent seafood dinner including lobster, Sydney oysters and king prawns and Bollinger Champagne all night! If you are a foodie, this will make you very happy. It’s not cheap, but the quality is fantastic. $893 per person.
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.
Another option is to hire a water taxi for either the 9 pm show for about $175 or $295 for the midnight show.
Accessible Areas – Wheelchair access for the NYE Fireworks
Six areas are listed as fully accessible. You need to make a booking for these areas on a form issued by the council. These areas all feature accessible toilets
- Mary Booth Reserve at Kirribilli on the northern side of the harbour
- Mrs Macquarie’s 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 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 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.
Got a Question?
Want more ideas for exploring Sydney? Join our friendly community where you can ask questions and get advice from the locals