New Years Eve in Sydney, Australia!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Good'ay mates!

Happy New Year from the Southern Hemisphere (I am still here). I hope your 2016 is EVERYTHING you desire it to be!

I rang in the new year in Sydney, Australia. It is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and the weather has been great. So Sydney naturally attracts scores of people to her annual fireworks show on New Years Eve: one million + to be exact. 

Knowing how I feel about crowds, and knowing this was a first in a lifetime event for me, I pressed on anyway and went to Circular Quay to see the show. While this was one of the most memorable events of my life, I don't see me doing it ever again (LISTEN to your gut!) 

First off: The video you're viewing was taken from a bush. I ended up watching the show from a bush. You read that right. There were so many people that folks had resorted to standing and sitting wherever they could. So I thought it would be a good idea to stand in the bush behind a group with a good view. Well a few other folks followed my lead, and before I knew it I was shoulder to shoulder with people in a damn BUSH! I didn't have sense enough to get pics of this ordeal, as I became territorial about the little space I was left with. I tell you, it was savage out there. But once the show started we forgot all about being cramped together and rejoiced (until it was time to leave-oh God!)

There is a more comfortable and convenient way to experience this show- you WILL PAY for it, though. 

The Rundown:

Sydney is literally thee most popular place in the world for New Years Eve. According to their tourism site, Sydney receives 6 million visitors to the region during the holidays alone, with a little over a million or so partaking in the fireworks extravaganza from 17 different vantage points around the city.

These were all over the city and were super helpful for us tourists

Whenever an area filled up, they changed the sign to "Closed"


The app was definitely helpful

There are two fireworks shows: one at 9pm for people with young children, and the main event at midnight. The midnight event was far superior to the 9pm show, but both are wonderful. 

Public transport is strongly recommended and frankly, unless you're staying at a nearby hotel that's walking distance, it is the only way to go. Buses and trains ran extended service all day, and ran at peak hour time intervals from 9pm-4am. Uber and cabs are available, but will come at an extreme premium. 

Hotels are obviously at a mark up premium during the entire holiday season in Sydney, but especially during NYE. Don't expect to pay less than $500 per night for a three star. Airbnbs also come at a premium. I lucked up and booked a studio twenty minutes by bus from the city by instant booking, but not before having FOUR instant bookings canceled on me. I booked my place in August at its regular price. I'm glad the hosts had mercy on my pockets. 

After the show, many people leave for Bondi Beach to see the first sunrise of the new year. I went to some Benadryl and my bed. 

Vantage Points:

The Sydney Opera House: the most recognized and most expensive. Tickets for a pre-NYE entertainment show began at AUD 295 and went up to AUD 695 depending on the package. That's about $550 PER PERSON to partake in their festivities. The packages became available to the general public in July, and generally sells out well in advance despite its price tag. Formal wear is required. Sydney's fireworks display originates at the opera house and continues simulatenously at the harbor. 

The Royal Botanical Gardens: the second most expensive, the best vantage point according to locals/regulars, and debatably the most comfortable. I visited the gardens, and they were peaceful and serene. There was both regular seating, and space for picnic blankets. They allot a limited number of tickets for their NYE event, so it isn't overrun with people. The early bird tickets were AUD 395 per person, and the event had sold out by the time I made the decision to bite the bullet and buy in late August. The price included heavy finger foods; drinks separate. 

Darling Harbor: the largest and most popular free space. The area accommodates 40,000 people (gag) for the show. Spectators begin arriving as early as noon to grab a spot.  Good luck getting out when the show is over. 

The Rocks: another popular, free space that in my opinion offered the best view of the opera house from a vantage point. There is space for picnic blankets, and the families usually grabs these spaces as early as 6am ahead of the 9pm show for the youngsters who might not stay awake until midnight. The area accommodates 8,000. 

Circular Quay: close to the opera house but with some obstructed views, the quay (pronounced 'key') is where I took a chance on the show. It is popular because it's close to public transportation once the shows conclude. It's also close to a number of cafes and eateries. 

Other vantage points, and overall most helpful website: 

One other thing to note is that there are a number of boats on the harbor for the show as well. So, if you purchase a ticket to an event you will want to be sure that you are going to have a great view. I googled all events for perspectives of those who had gone and for images of the location. 

In the end I saw what I came to see. The show was magnificent, truly unparalleled by any other show I've ever seen. A wave of emotions came over me, I was IN AUSTRALIA for one. And I was witnessing what few people get to experience in their lives several hours ahead of my loved ones. Okay now that I'm reminiscing I might consider doing it again BUT, I would need to start saving like now

All in all: if you're about the crowd life the free stuff can be done. I had a number of activities lined up for the day, so I didn't want to sit around at The Rocks watching people, using a port-o-potty (yes) and waiting hours and hours for the show. IF you're with a group, you have the time, patience, food/water, shade, sunscreen, entertainment, and someone is willing to be the sacrificial space lamb, then I would suggest The Rocks since you can at least sit while you wait. The area clears out albeit a little after the 9pm show, when families take their children home. 
If you're solo or coupled up, save some money, bite the bullet and buy access to an event space for convenience, comfort, and maximum enjoyability

More to come on Sydney. In the meantime, you can see more pics and footage of my trek through Oz and Melanesia so far over on my Instagram @toobusytraveling

Cheers, and Happy New Year :)

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  1. Great post. Not about that crowd life though, definitely sounds like something to save for. I'm wondering if the boats could also be occupied for watching fireworks?

    1. The boats usually are occupied, and I was told it was on a who you know basis. There's one or two that are open to the general public (at a premium, of course) but I heard, too, that their views get obstructed by the yachts that have exclusive access. So there's that.

  2. This is very useful information! Seeing the fireworks in Sydney is a bucket list item of mine so I will follow your advice! Sorry about the bush lol but it's something else you can cross off your list.

    1. Ha! A memory is a memory, but if I ever take the plunge again I will definitely bite the bullet on the gardens. Thank you for reading :)

  3. Wow. My family in Australia usually comes here, but we have been planning to take a trip to see them. I am definitely not a port o potty or crowd person, so I'll be revising our plans... maybe when I was younger, but now? I need the comfort! Thank you for this post :)

  4. I had no clue Sydney was so popular for NEW YEARS! This is exciting for me because Australia is the last region I need before my 30th birthday and this gives me a reason to go next January! Will be referring to this to do list <3

  5. I have never put Sydney on the radar before for New Year's but it seems to very popular. Thanks for the tips, I may add Sydney to my bucket list.

  6. Wow! I had no idea Australia or even Sydney was this popular! It seems like you enjoyed your time in Sydney! Awesome video also even if it was from a bush.

    1. Oh yes! SIX MILLION visitors from Xmas-NYE alone; there were a legit million of us out at the vantage points on NYE. It's been that way for years!

  7. I don't like crowds but for the experience I think I would brave it. Sydney is on my bucket list of places to visit. Great post and tips.

    1. I'm a glutton for punishment. I'm thinking of doing it again!

  8. Whoa these prices though! I don't blame you. I absolutely am NOT a fan of crowds and if I have to take the kids with me, you can forget about it. I would love to visit Sydney but now I know we need to stay clear of the holiday season LOL