More than a million people flock to the Sydney foreshore every New Year's Eve. Due to COVID-19, New Year's Eve in Sydney will look quite different to previous years.
The 9pm fireworks have been cancelled though the midnight main-event is still going ahead in the form of a shortened seven-minute display.
To reduce crowds, popular vantage points will be blocked off to most and access to the CBD on 31 December will be restricted to those with tickets to specific events and venues only. Frontline workers will be given priority and will be able to apply for New Year's Eve Passes through Service NSW. These are available from 7 December 2020 and can grant you access to areas like Mrs Macquarie's Point, Sydney Opera House, Campbell's Cove and the Cahill Expressway.
If you're not a frontline worker, don't fear, you do still have plenty of options to get a premium view of the iconic Sydney new Year's Eve fireworks.
We've narrowed down your New Year's Eve celebration options in Sydney to ring in 2021 and will update the page as new information becomes available.
Dine at a harbourside restaurant
Book a restaurant package for the best views of the fireworks.
Get a whole new perspective of the fireworks from a harbour cruise with dinner and drinks.
This is where you'll get the best views without the crowds.
Vantage points offering the best views of Sydney's fireworks display will be reserved for New South Wales frontline workers in 2020/2021. These will be at designated spots at Mrs Macquarie's Point, the Sydney Opera House and Campbell's Cove. A ballot will run to obtain these tickets.
There won't be any free vantage points for public access on the night.
If you work in a Sydney-based office where a COVIDSafe plan is in place, you may be permitted to head into the city to watch the fireworks from it.
Don't tick any of the above boxes? Many restaurants and cafes are opening their doors on New Year's Eve and a ticket or reservation at one of them can grant you access into the city on the night. There's plenty of restaurants packages you can book in advance. Choose carefully and you might even score a bird's-eye-view of the midnight fireworks from restaurants such as Harbourfront Seafood Restaurant.
What is Sydney doing on New Year's Eve to be COVID-safe?
As the NSW premier has stated, this year's NYE is going to be quite different.
Gone are the crowds and the free vantage points and in their place are events and options for you to celebrate in a COVID-safe way.
- Fireworks events: To reduce gathering numbers the 9pm family friendly fireworks have been cancelled. Only the midnight fireworks are going ahead. Numbers into the city are limited to ticket holders and free vantage points are being reserved for frontline workers only.
- Cruises: Harbour cruises are going ahead, however they are running at a limited capacity. If food is included, they'll likely be sit-down events with bookings being provided their own tables instead of having to share. Increased hygiene and contactless payments will be in place.
- Restaurants and events: These are going ahead, however running at a limited capacity. Bookings may be provided their own tables and increased cleaning may be in place. Ticketed events are able to host up to 3,000 people as long as there is no more than one person per 2 square metres with assigned seating, or 4 square metres per person when there is no assigned seating (i.e. picnic-style events)
- Getting around safely: Public transport is available on the evening and will run with additional services to get party-goers home after midnight. Capacity is being reduced and may be monitored to comply with physical distancing rules for your safety. Some CBD roads will be closed. More details will be released soon. If you have a restaurant or event booking you can drive into the city. Another option is to order a rideshare which has health and safety measures in place.
Celebrating New Year's Eve at home in Sydney: What's allowed
- Gathering sizes at home: Celebrating at home is encouraged and every NSW household can have up to 20 visitors on top of those belonging to the household. When having a gathering, keep the gathering limits and don't attend if you're feeling unwell.
- Gathering in a public space: Outside of the city you are free to gather in public spaces such as parks, reserves, beaches and gardens. When you do, your group must be no more than 30 people. Be sure to keep your distance between groups as well for a COVID-safe celebration.
- Airing of New Year's Eve fireworks on TV: The midnight fireworks are being streamed on ABC for free. Flick on the television a few minutes before midnight to start the countdown.
Rules for residents in restricted zones
Residents living around the Sydney Harbour and North Sydney area may require a New Year's Eve Pass if you or any of your guests intend to leave your property and venture towards vantage point areas on New Year's Eve. Keep in mind road closures may prevent you moving around swiftly, so it's best to plan ahead and take public transport if possible.
What's on at Sydney Opera House on New Year's Eve?
The Sydney Opera House has yet to confirm its full suite of New Year's Eve events for 2020. Typically though, you can expect everything from operas to five-course dinners.
Here's what we know so far:
- Bennelong: Peter Gilmore's in-house restaurant is hosting a New Year's Eve event though it has yet to be finalised. You can usually expect a feast on canapes followed by a five-course dinner that's paired with matching wines, all within the Opera House's sails.
What are the popular free vantage points for the New Year's Eve fireworks?
Sydney Harbour has dozens of prime fireworks viewing areas scattered along Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Balmain and the North Shore, to name a few.
This year these vantage points will be blocked off or available to a select few ticketholders only. More to come.
Popular ticketed island parties
Ticketed island parties for New Year's Eve in Sydney are quickly being confirmed. Here's what's going down in 2020/2021.
- Cockatoo Island: Spending a few nights on Cockatoo Island over New Year's Eve rewards you with epic views of the fireworks. Normally you'd be able to book a camping stay for a few nights for a pretty neat price. This year only the homesteads are available to book and these for a minimum of 5 nights. A ballot is in place to secure your spot in homes that accommodate 2 to 12 people. Prices start from $2,000.
- Glass Island: While not exactly an island, this is a floating cruise ship that sails and docks in various spots of Sydney Harbour. On New Year's Eve it's taking out the best seat in the house on the water. Naturally there will be drinks, canapes and food stations, seats for everyone on board and a glass of Moet to toast the midnight fireworks. Tickets $565.95pp.
Popular ticketed New Year's Eve Sydney parties
Ticketed events for New Year's Eve parties in Sydney have not yet become available. Here's what we know so far:
- Harbour Party NYE 2020 at Luna Park: A New Year's Eve party amongst this Sydney icon's fun-filled rides is currently in the works. While details have yet to be revealed, if last year's event is anything to go by, you can expect to experience all of the rides and then party your way into the new year to a series of local artists and DJs. This is an 18+ event.
- New Year's Eve 2020 @ Taronga Zoo: Spend the evening overlooking Harbour views with the animals at this annual experience. There are three tiers of tickets, all of which include a complimentary park and ride service, live entertainment and entry to the zoo. Food and non-alcoholic drinks are BYO or can be added onto your ticket. Prices from $200pp.
- Cruise Bar: Sitting right underneath the Harbour Bridge with pristine views over the harbour, Cruise Bar comes alive with the sound of Aussie DJs and glasses of sparkling clinking. Details TBC.
- A "Mask-erade" New Year's Eve @ Sir Stamford: Mask-up for this enchanted evening moments from the harbour. Held on the rooftop of the Sir Stamford, prepare to be regaled with a 5 course sit down degustation, drinks, entertainment and those epic views. Prices $467.62pp.
- Sails at Lavender Bay: The restaurant with a view is hosting an interactive 7-course tasting menu featuring a seafood course, meat curse, cheese and desert. Champagne is given on arrival, premium wines served all night and DJ entertainment spinning well beyond midnight. Starts at 7pm. Prices from $845pp.
- New Year's Eve at Sailmaker Restaurant: Settle in for an indulgent evening of succulant seafoods and charcuterie platters. Running from 8-11pm, children are welcome. Though, bear in mind that since this ends early you won't be able to catch the midnight fireworks. Prices from $110pp.
- New Year's Eve at Jounieh: Dine on a three-course menu right on the edge of the wharfs of Walsh Bay. Seatings start at 6pm and run until midnight. You know the deal, book the latest you can get to catch those midnight sparklers. Prices from $85.49pp.
- Zephyr Rooftop Bar: Sky high is where you want to be if the midnight fireworks are on your agenda. Book a spot at Zephyr and you'll be the envy of all with panoramic views as well as a DJ to set the scene and live food stations with fresh seafood and gourmet canapes. Runs from 8pm-12:30am. Prices from $422.03pp.
- COAST cruise: Catch all the sights and sounds from the water on this luxury catamaran. On top of its 5-star service is live entertainment, nibbles and drinks. Sailing from 7.30pm-1.30am. Tickets from $755.41pp.
- Stars Nightclub Cruising Extravaganza: Dance your way across three levels and two pumping stages while sailing your way into 2021. This on-the-water nightclub runs from 8.30pm-1.30am only stopping for the midnight fireworks. Expect live DJs, reduced capacity, open bar and free flowing canapes. The way it should be. Tickets $466.45pp.
- View Soiree @ View Sydney: Head to View Sydney to start 2021 with cracking views of the Harbour Bridge as it lights up at midnight. On the menu is oysters, champagne, seafood platters and gin cocktails. Tickets $150pp.
- View Dine NYE: Up the ante with something more luxurious at view. Say, a multi-course degustation dinner. Naturally this includes drinks and access to the restaurant terrace where all the firework action can be seen. Seatings at 6pm ($400pp) and 9pm ($500pp).
- Boat Party SoundWaves VII: Dance your 2020 cares away on the inaugural SoundWaves boat party. Expect 5 hours of non-stop fun to the tune of house and techno DJs, endless drinks and dinner to fuel you to the very end. Runs from 8pm-1am, tickets $475.84pp.
- NYE Cruise on MV Spirit, MV Star or MV Princess: If ended 2020 in style is what's on your agenda, you can't do much better than one of Vagabond Cruises' ships. These luxurious cruises are serving up a night of seafood and carvery dishes complete with open bar all night DJ and light show. Don't forget to grab your free party screamers and hats before running out onto the open deck at midnight for the main event. Tickets from $600pp depending on the ship.
- NYE Prohibition Party in the Doss House: Not fussed about fireworks? On a bit of a party budget this year? For $135pp you can get in on this underground party in the heart of the city. For that price you'll nab a drink on arrival, bubbles at midnight, sharing platters and canapes and entertainment. And yes, if you really want to catch the fireworks you can run out to George Street and Playfair Street to get an eyeful.
Looking for accommodation for NYE 2020/2021?
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- Enjoy a bottle of French Champagne
- Delicious Mezz-Plate with a selection of cold meats, cheeses, fruit, bread and crackers
- New Years Eve themed party pack
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