Sadly I cannot go to Sydney every year for New Year’s Eve. If I had enough vacation time and money I surely would because it was one of the best experiences of my life. Unfortunately I am limited on both so I can’t attend, but I’d like to pass on some of the knowledge I gained from my time in Sydney. When we were booking Sydney New Year’s Eve it was actually pretty hard to find basic information and reviews, so I thought this could be helpful to those of you headed to Sydney for New Year’s Eve this year. Here are the six biggest things I learned from attending Sydney New Year’s Eve 2017.
Not the most fun piece of advice to start off with, but perhaps the most important. I went into Sydney thinking everything was going to be a certain price, and it was always more expensive than I anticipated – it’s just how it goes. I thought the hotel would be $250/$300ish, it was more. I thought our New Year’s Eve party in Sydney would be about $150, it was much more. Consistently everything with Sydney New Year’s Eve was more expensive than I had anticipated. If you just go into the experience expecting everything to be more expensive you are ready for it and it makes it for palatable in a way. Of course, you can do everything super cheap: you can find a hostel, you can do one of the free areas for New Year’s Eve, etc. However, if you aren’t the type of person who is going to go this route go to Sydney for New Year’s Eve expecting to spend a lot of money.
This seems obvious, but I’m talking really early. This advice goes for both your accommodations and for your New Year’s Eve party. Let’s start with your New Year’s Eve hotel. I’ve actually written another article looking at our hotel data to determine the best time to book your hotel in Sydney for New Year’s Eve. You can read it at http://www.eventtrk.com/events/50/sydney-new-years-eve-2018/217/sydney-new-years-eve-hotel-guide-when-to-book-your-hotel. The cliff notes version of the article is either book last minute (not applicable to most people) or book in January or February. For most people, this is really early, but prices increase fairly dramatically from that point forward. I know this is rough for a lot of people because in January you are still broke from the holidays and New Year’s Eve from last year, but if you are looking to save some money for Sydney New Year’s Eve next year you need to book early.
Sydney New Year’s Eve parties also need to be booked early. If you are planning to go to one of the free areas such as Dawes Point, Mrs Macquaries Point, or Observatory Hill Park this isn’t applicable. You don’t purchase tickets for those, you just show up early that day and it’s free. You can see all the free vantage points at http://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/vantage-points/. If you aren’t going to one of those spots you are going to need to purchase a ticket to whatever event you want to attend. There is no shortage of luxurious parties in Sydney: the Sydney Opera house hosts a New Year’s Eve Party, you can pay to be on one of the boats in the harbor, etc. All of these ticketed events sell out early! For example, we ended up doing the James Craig (https://www.shf.org.au/new-years-eve-2016-sold/) and it sold out in June. We mainly wanted to do one of the boats in the Sydney Harbor for the fireworks and they consistently were selling out in the summer time 6+ months before New Year’s Eve. The Opera House parties also sold out very quickly, as did any place with a great view of the Sydney Harbor. If you are going to a ticketed New Year’s Eve party you should book ASAP. That is, decide what you want to do and book it now, or things will start selling out months in advance.
I somehow missed this memo until I was actually in Sydney for New Year’s Eve, but if you book one of the parties for a boat in the Sydney Harbor they can’t serve any liquor. Many of these parties are open bar or BYOB, but keep in mind it is only champagne, wine and beer – no liquor. Probably not a big deal for most people, but something I was unaware of and wish I had known.
As I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of free vantage point areas with amazing views of Sydney Harbor and the Sydney Bridge. The price is right, especially given the view. That said, I would not go this route ever for New Year’s Eve. Walking around Sydney during the day we noticed many of the vantage points began filling up at around noon, if not earlier. The picture above was taken at 11:30 a.m., so the two most popular vantage points (Sydney Opera House and Mrs. Macquaries Point) were already full and not accepting anymore people. Many of the other areas were very full at this point as well, so if you go to one of these points you need to go early and expect crowds. Additionally, there’s not a lot of seating at many of these vantage points, so you basically sit there all day in the heat until the fireworks go off at 9 p.m. and 12 a.m.
Again, it is free, the views are great, and when I did go through the areas they seemed to have good vibes all around. If this is appealing to you by all means go to one of the vantage points. However, for me I don’t go to Sydney often and I don’t want to spend a whole day baking in the sun waiting for the fireworks. On New Year’s Eve we were able to spend the whole day sightseeing and then head to our party at night. This was totally worth the cost of admission.
Every one obviously makes a big deal about the midnight fireworks during Sydney New Year’s Eve, and rightfully show. I highly doubt I ever see a better fireworks show. Still, the 9 p.m. fireworks on New Year’s Eve are awesome as well and well worth your time. If you are on the fence about seeing them I highly recommend going early and making sure you see them.
Going into Sydney New Year’s Eve I was actually unsure how much we’d be able to do on New Year’s Eve during the day. All I had read was how unbearably crowded everything would be and going around the city would be a nightmare. Perhaps it was because everyone was stuck waiting at one of the free vantage points, but going around Sydney on New Year’s Eve during the day actually wasn’t that bad at all. We actually did quite a bit of sightseeing during the day and even did a walking tour around the city (it was awesome, check them out: http://www.imfree.com.au/sydney/). Sydney was definitely busy, but it wasn’t unbearable and you can still see plenty during the day on New Year’s Eve.
Coming from the United States, New Year’s Day is mostly for being hungover and regretting bad decisions from the night prior. Sydney New Year’s Eve appears to just be the warmup for New Year’s Day. Apparently Sydney really likes to party because there are tons of parties going on New Year’s Day all day, from early in the morning and through the night. If you like to party be sure to look into New Year’s Eve AND New Year’s Day parties in Sydney.
There you have it, all the big takeaways I had from my experience at Sydney New Year’s Eve. If you have any other major tips for New Year’s Eve in Sydney, or you have questions, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to reach out to me at Shawn@EventTrk.com and I will be happy to either share your sagely advice or answer your question.