If you are planning on being in Sydney for the first time and maybe only time this NYE you are probably keen to get your plans sorted. Consider this a beginners guide to New Year’s Eve in Sydney’.
So let begin with some of the decisions you are going to need to make for everything to go smoothly
- Decide how long you will be in Sydney
- Work out where to stay
- Do you want to attend a ticketed event or a free viewing location?
- Do you want a meal, is food an important part of your night?
- Do you have a good tolerance for crowds and busy places
- Do you need mobility assistance?
- Will you have kids in your group?
Ready, let’s get started.
- Where and how long will you stay in Sydney?
- What type of event do you want to attend?
- Planning a family friendly NYE
- Accessible Areas to Spend NYE in Sydney
Where and how long will you stay in Sydney?
Deciding how long to stay in Sydney
Most hotels and hostels have a minimum stay over the new year period. This usually ranges from 3-7 days.
Choosing where to stay for NYE
NYE is the busiest time of the year for booking accommodation in Sydney. If you are travelling on a budget now is the time to hunt down any long-lost relatives. If you are not staying with family or friends, you will find that Sydney’s hotel and accommodation prices become pretty ridiculous between Christmas and New Year. My best advice is to try to book as early as you can. If you are not completely sure of your plans it can be worth securing something that you can cancel if things change rather than miss out.
Do not take this warning lightly! If you are not sure which part of the city to stay read through my extensive pros and cons of the different areas in Inner Sydney or check out my list of budget hotels in Sydney – which to be honest are ridiculously expensive between Christmas and New Year.
If you want to book a hotel with a view of the harbour, then you should book as soon as they become available. If you choose the Park Hyatt (pictured above) or one of the other harbour view hotels, you may find you have access to their in-house events and you won’t need to find anywhere to go on NYE.
If you are travelling on a budget, then my top pick is the Sydney Harbour YHA. It’s guests only NYE party will solve the problem of a nye party venue too! There is minimum stay for NYE, and you need to book eight months or more in advance for the twin rooms. As of 25/8/18, there are still some 4-bed dorms available.
If staying in the inner city is beyond your budget consider some of the cities inner suburbs. Places like Mascot, Coogee, Maroubra, and anywhere on the suburban rail network will still allow you a relatively easy trip to and from town for the fireworks show.
One option to stay by Mascot train stations. There are quite a few new serviced apartments and hotels here, and it’s a straightforward 15-20 minute trip to the city.
Alternatively look for Airbnb and holiday homes. Head over to the Facebook group where we have discussed suitable suburbs extensively.
What type of event do you want to attend?
New Year’s Eve in Sydney offers something for everyone with party cruise boats, tall ships, harbour picnics, opera performances, garden picnics and dance parties.
Watching the show from the Sydney Harbour foreshore.
Sydney City Council hosts the Sydney fireworks on NYE, and they have a brilliant website and free app that includes maps of the vantage points and the rules for each place. Over recent years there has been a significant increase in alcohol-free areas so make sure you check the maps on the city of Sydney website for any restrictions before you head to your favourite spot.
The main thing to know is that the city is very crowded on NYE and roads are closed, so everyone travels by public transport, catching a cab is no easy feat. Buses and trains will be full and moving about the city after 7 pm can be quite tricky.
If you are travelling on a budget, there are free areas all along the foreshore that offer incredible views and a chance to be right in the thick of the action surrounded by your new friends when midnight strikes.
If you want a guarantee of a great location to watch the show without having to wait hours waiting for it to begin then a ticketed area is the best way to go. Choose from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Barangaroo or the National Parks and Wildlife Harbour Islands.
Do you want a restaurant dinner with a view of Sydney Harbour?
If you like the idea of a slap-up meal with your fireworks, there is plenty on offer, but you will pay a pretty penny for it. Most of the waterfront restaurants around the city offer special menus for NYE and you do need to make reservations well in advance although not as early as many ticketed areas.
I would suggest if you have your heart set on a particular place, and you have a small party of 2 or 4 book early as smaller tables seem to go first. Many restaurants require a deposit or sometimes full payment at time of booking.
Some places to consider if money is no object:
- Sydney Cove Oyster Bar
- Bennelong at the Opera House
- O Bar and Dining
- Cafe Sydney
Would you prefer an event with music or a party atmosphere?
Concerts and dance parties in Sydney on New Year’s Eve are a popular choice. From a dance party at Luna Park to at Taronga Zoo, there is plenty of choice for those who want some entertainment along with their fireworks.
Tickets for these events begin at about $90. Not all parties include views of the harbour so make sure you confirm this if it’s important to you. I maintain a list of parties and concert events with prices on this page
New Years Eve in the Royal Botanic Gardens
This is my dream spot to watch the fireworks when my budget allows. Tickets go on sale in early October and sell out pretty quickly. There are several packages from picnic style to formal dining so whether you are looking for a family-friendly spot or want to dance the night away, you are covered by one of these.
- Midnight at the Oasis – This is an adult only event.
- Lawn with a view – This is an all-ages area located on the grass outside Government House and directly above the Sydney Opera House
- The Point – Fleet Steps North, Mrs Macquaries Point. This is an over 18s only area. Includes food but drinks are from a cash bar. Tickets on sale now $355. The Point offers the very best view in my opinion.
- Harbour Hoopla – a family-friendly circus-themed event
- NYE at the Calyx – Free flowing food and drinks will keep you happy at this event. Just before midnight, you walk through the gardens to the harbour foreshore for the main event.
More details here
Planning a family friendly NYE
If you are bringing kids to the city for NYE, you really need to plan. Big crowds and small children do not always make a good fit. I would not brave one of the free spots with children under ten years. The crowds and the long wait make it too hard to keep the kids entertained.
Among the best spots for families are:
- Harbour Hoopla in the Botanic Gardens
- Taronga Zoo
- Fast ferries or Sydney Harbour Ferries family cruises
Alternatively, book some accommodation with a view and party from your balcony.
Accessible Areas to Spend NYE in Sydney
Sydney City Council offers a service to help make the celebrations available for everyone. Their official NYE website lists a range of resources to help you plan your big night out.
Six areas are listed as fully accessible and feature accessible bathrooms. You need to complete a booking form to secure your spot at these locations.
- 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 Botanic Gardens and Opera House areas are also suitable.
There is also a Facebook group called Accessible Sydney that might be useful if you need further advice.
Need help planning your trip to 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!