Where to Watch the Fireworks on New Year’s Eve in Sydney

Sydney New Years Eve fireworks

The end of the year is finally here, and if you’re feeling dazed at the fact that 12 months have passed in the blink of an eye, you’re likely not alone. If you’ll be in Sydney to ring in the start of the new year, though, you should consider yourself incredibly lucky.

New Year is where Sydney really shines and reminds you that, despite the ridiculous house and rental prices, the shoddy transport and the lack of decent nightlife, the Harbour City is still one of the greatest places on Earth to live.

The rest of the world also holds a soft spot for Sydney, as it just so happens to be one of the first cities to ring in the new year, well and truly marking the start of the transition to the next year for everyone else. People from all over tune in to see the iconic Harbour Bridge and the Opera House light up like something out of Star Wars – no shade to New Zealand, who also put on a great show (probably).

However, actually getting a first-hand viewing of that world-class explosion show is a difficult business, often requiring months or potentially years of planning (if buying a house with a harbour view is your tactic of choice).

Sydney has fireworks at 9pm with the ‘welcome to country’ display and again at 12am to celebrate the end of the year. Here’s how to get the best view of the best way to see in 2023.

Where to Watch the Fireworks For Free in Sydney

Back in the day, Sydney Harbour used to be a bit of a free-for-all on New Year’s Eve, but, as the city has got busier, access to the water at New Year’s has tightened. As you can see below, there are 49 official City of Sydney vantage points around the harbour from which to watch the fireworks.

New Years Eve fireworks Sydney

Among these, 42 spots are free entry, and seven are ticketed, though as of writing this, they are all sold out.

If you want to get a spot at any of the free sites, you’ll have to move quickly as some, like Lavender Bay, open at 8am and people take getting a spot very seriously.

The rest of the harbour will be relatively well cordoned off, and trying to get to an unguarded or unofficial vantage point is likely to cause issues. In past years, many roads and parks around the harbour were closed to non-residents to limit crowd numbers, and for the past few years, local councils have been fencing off areas like Balls Head and only allowing those who live within the vicinity to access them. It’s possible to try to get down to some of these places early and see what happens, but it’s sensible to have a plan B in case you’re stopped from entering.

Of course, you can always ask around and see if any of your friends (or friends of friends of friends) work in an office in the CBD with harbour views. More often than not, these places like to utilise their views for New Year’s parties and can offer prime viewing if you can swing an invite.

Where to Watch the Fireworks Ticketed in Sydney

If you can’t secure a free spot, you’re looking at ticketed events, and while these are arguably the better option for having a sense of confirmation and order around the night, some of the better spots have already been booked out.

Some great spots include the Barangaroo Reserve at Millers Point, which offers great views from the southwestern side of the bridge, with tickets selling for between $20 and $46. Taronga Zoo and the Bradley’s Head region offer spectacular views across the whole harbour as well, with tickets starting at $12 and going up to $110.

The Botanic Gardens have a number of options too, with awesome views of the bridge and the Opera House. You can sit on the Mare and Foal lawn for $130-$150 or at Mrs Macquaries Point for $25-150, which includes a wide range of food trucks and pop-up bars. The best option, however, is the Botanic Gardens Bridgeview, positioned right above the Opera House with top-notch views of the fireworks. The tickets don’t come in cheap though, at a high of $260, however they’re likely to be the best seats in the house.

Bars and restaurants around the harbour are also offering New Year’s Eve packages. Cafe Sydney, at the top of Customs House in Circular Quay, is available for some high-end eating, with a six-course, wine-paired modern Australian dinner on the menu. That deal also comes with Perrier Jouët Brut to toast the new year. It’ll set you back $1,320pp inclusive of Sunday surcharge.

If you’re a north-of-the-bridge resident, Wharf Bar in Manly is hosting viewings for the local Manly fireworks in the harbour. Doors open at 6pm, and the party ends at 2am. Tickets start at $160.14.

If you decide it’s all too much and you’d rather watch the bangs and lights from the comfort of your own sofa, ABC will be broadcasting live from Sydney Harbour from 8:30pm. The fireworks will also be live-streamed on the official Sydney New Year’s Eve website and ABC iView.

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