Growing up, my family used to listen to the ball drop in Times Square in New York. Over the years, I’ve become interested in other New Year’s celebrations around the world and there is one that has particularly stood out for me: the New Year’s Eve celebration in Sydney, Australia.
Among the first to turn the page on the new year, Sydney offers an extremely impressive fireworks show for New Year’s Eve. Besides, partying in the middle of the austral summer is much more pleasant than being in the cold in Times Square.
Having attended various New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world, the one in Sydney is a pyrotechnic masterpiece!
The different points of view
New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney are set off from several platforms on either side of the Harbour Bridge.
So there are plenty of places to see the lights; you can also choose between free spots or private events.
As for the evening’s programming, there are two sets of fireworks: the 9 p.m. family show (8-10 minutes) and the midnight show (12-15 minutes).
Although you can’t see the Sydney Opera House from Darling Harbour, you can still see the fireworks.
Darling Harbour is a very charming place to spend the evening.
The free places are extremely crowded; some people set up camp up to 24 hours in advance!
How to know if there is room left at a location or not? The city of Sydney has several boards in the center where you can find all the information.
Based on what I’ve seen and the personal experience of my Australian friends, the best free New Year’s Eve spots in Sydney sell out around 1pm – 3pm.
Here are the main free spots:
- Brandfield Park
- Mary Booth Reserve
- Cremorne Point Reserve
- Dawes Point Park
- The Rocks
- Observatory Hill
- Circular Quay
- Sydney Opera House
- Mrs Macquaries Point
- Embarkation Park
- Darling Harbour
- Pyrmont Bay Park
- Pirrama Park
The most popular are The Rocks, Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House and Mrs Macquaries Point.
The latter offers the best perspective of the Sydney New Year’s Eve show, in my opinion, as you can see the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House in the background.
Don’t want to spend the day saving your place and waiting in a tide of people for New Year’s Eve in Sydney? There are many private events, but you must buy tickets in advance.
Most of them have a minimal number of seats so that people who pay are not crowded together. I would advise you to watch for the on-sale time and get your tickets then.
The best events are hosted by the Royal Botanical Garden in Sydney.
New Year’s Eve tickets in Sydney usually go on sale in early September.
What is included? Ask around, because it differs from one organizer to another! (price per person)
- Midnight at the Oasys $460 AUD
- The Point $485 AUD
- Calyx Garden Party $595 AUD
- Lawn with the View $360 AUD
- Harbour Hoopla $350 AUD
- Private boats (between $500AUD and $1,500 AUD)
- Hotels and restaurants with a terrace
As for us, we went to Midnight at the Oasys. I LOVED the experience and plan to do it again.
The fact that we had to pay for it allowed us to spend a stress-free day at the beach and we only arrived in town around 5pm.
The event is at Mrs Macquaries Point and is located in front of the free zone.
We received snacks as we entered the site and then a 5-course meal during the evening.
We had to get our plates ourselves, but the tables were booked in our names so there was no fear of losing our place.
All drinks, alcoholic or not, were not included in the price of the event.
There was a dance floor, a DJ and plenty of room to watch the fireworks; along the water and on two large bleachers.
I paid almost nothing out of my own pocket except for food and the regular small daily expenses of travel. Otherwise, this little one-week stay in Australia would have been excessively expensive.
Managing my credit cards well and mastering several rewards programs is essential to travel for almost free.
I was able to use my HSBC rewards points to cover the cost of the evening at Midnight at the Oasys, travel to Australia with my Aeroplan points, and stay in a hotel with my Marriott Bonvoy points.
How to get there
I was lucky enough to go before the Aeroplan program was revamped; less expensive in points, but I paid carrier surcharges.
Currently, a one-way economy flight on a partner’s aircraft will cost approximately 75,000 points. With Air Canada, you may have to pay more or less since the pricing is dynamic; this is precisely the case here where you can get away with 110,000 points during the holiday season!
To save on the number of points required, you will generally have to go through Los Angeles or San Francisco where the number of points will be partly fixed. However, since it is with a partner carrier (United), seats will be harder to find.
I suggest you book your tickets as soon as they go on sale. Not only is it the holiday season, but we are also in the peak of the Australian summer season.
There are two Marriott hotels that are extremely well located and inexpensive in points. These will have a very nice valuation:
This is a great opportunity to redeem your Annual Free Night Award during this peak season at the Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Central Park!
With the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card offer, a couple can earn up to 50,000 points each. You’ll have the points you need to cover your stay in Sydney at one of the two hotels!
Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips for a great New Year’s Eve in Sydney:
- Be prepared for all kinds of weather: bring a poncho, jacket, hat and sunscreen
- Bring a picnic towel, your food and plenty of water if you are aiming for a free place
- Have a plan B if your first choice of location is full
- The paths to the stations are one-way after the stroke of midnight, so get an updated map on site, as it will be impossible to “cut through” a regular route
- Public transportation is available until 4:00 a.m. (leave after 1:00 a.m. to avoid the heaviest traffic); forget about renting a car
- You can expect to be home in 1-3 hours, depending on the location of your accommodation
- Fireworks installations may interfere with your plans to visit the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Royal Botanical Garden
Australia has reopened its borders. It’s an excellent time to plan a New Year’s Eve in Sydney for December 31, 2023, or December 31, 2024!
So you have plenty of time to prepare for that party with the points!
Would you like to travel to Australia? Check out our guide to travelling to Australia with points.
Follow my adventures on my Instagram account @wanderingaline!