As one of the first major cities to cross the International Date Line, Sydney has quickly become the signal to the rest of the world that New Year’s Eve celebrations are officially underway. Sydney’s fireworks show is the first to be seen in recaps, photo montages and news shows worldwide – and over a 24 hour period a staggering 1 billion people worldwide are estimated to see the show with the instantly recognizable Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House in the background.
This has made Sydney a top New Year’s Eve destination for revelers from around the globe. Whether they want to be the “first” to ring in the coming year or simply like to be where the party is, Sydney has welcomed an increasing number of visitors to the Sydney Harbourforeshore to witness the pyrotechnic display, with 1.5 million people watched the display in person in 2011/12.
The Bridge Effect on the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a light showthat takes two months to build. Tall buildings around the city become launching pads for shooting streams of fireworks. Even boats in the Harbour come dressed for the show with elegant lights on their outlines and masts. And of course, Australian stars are brought in to help host the evening; Kylie Minogue has been named Syndey’s “Cultural Ambassador” for the 2012/2013 presentation, which has as its theme “Embrace.” Previous years’ themes include “Reflections,” “Creation,” City of Light” and “The Time of Our Lives.”
Spectators are rarely disappointed, and in fact are treated to three separate shows. First there is the Indigenous Smoking Ceremony at 8pm from barges in the harbor; the “Family Fireworks” show at 9pm includes barge-based pyrotechnics as well as flares from city skyscrapers; and finally the midnight show, which includes the Sydney Harbour Bridge and its access roads and is set to a soundtrack that is broadcasted from the Harbour. In between these shows are periodic colorful explosions to mark the time, the last one being at 11:45pm.
Ringing in the New Year in Sydney is simply something that must be done at least once in a lifetime. There are many vantage points from which to watch the fireworks throughout the evening, and the City of Sydney has organized it well for the influx of visitors. Below are some of the better options for spectators; each has their own characteristics, including whether there are facilities, food, and alcohol available, as well as handicap accessibility. It’s best to check ahead of time so as not to be turned away from your favorite vantage point. Happy New Year!
Even first-time visitors to Sydney will quickly become familiar with Circular Quay due to its proximity to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, and its central location for trains, buses and ferries.
Circular Quay is a prime front-row seat watch the fireworks show on New Year’s Eve. It is advisable to arrive early, since the capacity is limited to only 4500, and over 1.5 million people come to Sydney for the New Year. During the daytime there are restaurants and cafes on the promenade, but these tend hold private functions on New Year’s Eve. Note that Circular Quay is not handicap accessible, and there is no alcohol allowed at all.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
The amusingly named Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is in a peninsular park east of the Sydney Opera House. While there is no actual chair (it’s a sandstone rock bench), it does have a fantastic view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – so much so that you feel like you are actually out on the water.
Like most of the vantage points, it is strongly recommended to arrive as early as possible, and there are toilets and food available for the long wait. Unlike Circular Quay, however, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair holds 20,000 people, so it should be easier to secure a good spot. Alcohol is available from special event stalls, but bringing alcohol from outside is prohibited. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is handicap accessible.
Blues Point, North Sydney
Unlike Circular Quay and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Blues Point Reserve is on the north side of the Sydney Harbour looking back over at the city. There is plenty of room with a capacity of 12,000, and it is considered one of the better vantage points, as Blues Point stretches a long way into the Harbour almost directly across from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. On most years it does reach capacity, and as a result tends to be closed off early on in the evening so don’t delay for too long if you are planning on meeting friends there.Alcohol and dogs are prohibited, but like some of the others there is handicap access, and food and facilities available.
Luna Park, Milsons Point
Luna Park is an iconic family amusement park, located right on the Harbour in Milsons Point. But on New Year’s Eve, it is transformed into one of the hottest spots in town. Far from being a midnight-only production, there are bands,DJs, and events all night long. It does normally sell out, so tickets need to be arranged well in advance. Tickets to attend aren’t cheap, but New Year’s Eve does only come around once a year!
On a boat
For those who want an unimpeded view of the fireworks and are not fond of being jostled by thousands of people, then the best option is watching from on a boat in Sydney Harbour itself. Although it is necessary to book a long way in advance, there are a lot of choices – party boats, dinner cruises, luxury cruises and private vessels are available for the price of admission or rental, and they make it worth your while with food, drinks, dancing and other entertainment while you’re waiting for the big show.
Written by David Wright for Travel Insurance Cover (www.travelinsurancecover.com.au).Thinking about a trip to Sydney to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Find out more about the travel insurance policies available through Travel Insurance Cover for visitors to Australia on their website.