- Travel Home
- Travel News
How Sydney celebrates the New Year
Best events to see out 2011 and bring in 2012
Sydney's all about being in the know, and on New Year's Eve the city comes alive with rooftop parties and jiving boats at the world's biggest harbor party.
There are also festivals, beach parties and park gatherings. Restaurants and bars join the fun, too.
Whether you want adventure, hedonism or romance, Sydney has it at the turn of the calender year.
December 29-January 1
The year’s premier arts festival near Sydney hosts a multitude of bands, DJs, art installations, yoga workshops and stand-up comics for four days in the Glenworth Valley.
Headline acts include The Holidays, Salmonella Dub, and Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro.
But make sure you bring a green attitude. As Festival Director Matt Grant says, “The key to Peats Ridge is that sustainability is not just an additional project -- it is the heart and soul of the festival.”
Peats Ridge Sustainable Arts and Music Festival, adults $350, teenagers $110, kids $35 or under-six free, vehicle pass $50, www.peatsridgefestival.com.au
Glamping on Cockatoo Island
December 30–January 1
Sydney’s former indigenous meeting place turned naval quarry that is now an arts mecca has invited revelers to glamp in the island’s ready-made tents. The island has a bar and a great view of the fireworks, so there’s sure to be blurry colors in the sky.
Back to School at King Street Wharf, Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour, arrive by Sydney Ferries, +61 (0)2 8898 9774, $350–$413.30, www.cockatooisland.gov.au
6:30 p.m., New Year's Eve
A Mediterranean smorgasbord (as well as school tuck shop treats like sausage rolls) is being served among the restaurants at the city’s invigorated dining district with beer, bubbles and cocktails. It comes with a catch -- dress up in your old school gear.
We think it’s geared towards folk clutching onto eternal youth, as entertainment includes pinball, Space Invaders and Pacman.
Georges Mediterranean Bar and Grill, The Promenade, King Street Wharf, +61 (0)2 9295 5044, $185, www.georgesrestaurant.com.au
6:45 p.m., New Year's Eve
Hop on board this glass boat, enjoy a meal and float around the harbor till after the midnight fireworks with up to 750 guests.
King Street Wharf 4, 12 Lime St., (0)2 9279 3433, 6:45 p.m.–1 a.m., $550
Harbor rainbow dreaming
7 p.m., New Year's Eve
Sydney Port’s Ted Noffs fire tug will usher in celebrations on the harbor, blasting tons of water into the skies to create a rainbow against the last sunset of 2011.
7.30 p.m., New Year's Eve
Blind dates can have unpredictable results, but if your New Year’s resolution includes a large bullet point for “meeting someone new and exciting with a sense of humor,” a masquerade party will cross that off your list. If all else fails, crash another dress-up party.
Masquerade Party at Greenwood Hotel, Greenwood Plaza, 36 Blue St., North Sydney; online tickets $55 cut-off noon Saturday, door sales $65 on the night ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Traditional Smoking Ceremony
8 p.m., New Year's Eve
The traditional owners’ smoking ceremony is said to ward off bad spirits.
Five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vessels will perform the ritual to cleanse the harbor at around 8 p.m., while the New Year's Eve countdown is projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons.
As part of the ceremony, the Acknowledgement of Country will be delivered to pay tribute to the local Gadigal clan at 8:45 p.m., followed by a series of teaser fireworks.
8:30 p.m., New Year's Eve
Snoop Dog, Calvin Harris and Pendulum grrove a private party of thousands on Bondi Beach. Tickets? No, too slow I’m afraid –- all releases have been sold out, so if you can’t jump the fence, let’s hope you’re a strong swimmer.
Shore Thing, Bondi Beach, until 3 a.m., www.shorething.com.au
9 p.m., New Year's Eve
No need to fret about missing the fireworks if it’s past the kids’ bedtime. An early-bird pyrotechnics display specially designed for kids will light up the sky at 9pm.
The eight-minute performance will use four firework barges and no doubt keep the kids amused with a synchronized soundtrack featuring this year’s chart-stomping hits.
Around the same time, family fireworks will also be held at various spots across Sydney, including Manly Cove, Coogee Beach and Parramatta River Foreshore.
Harbour of Light Parade
Shortly after 9 p.m., New Year's Eve
A flotilla of 56 illuminated boats will sail a 15-kilometer circuit around the harbor in anticipation of the final midnight countdown.
The parade will include tall ships, Sydney’s Heritage Fleet, commercial charter vessels and Sydney ferries. Passengers onboard will be front and center, and no doubt treated to some of the best views in town.
For more information about each official Harbour of Light Parade vessel and ticket sales, go to www.sydneynewyearseve.com
When the clock finally strikes midnight, more than 1.5 million people gather on the Sydney Harbour foreshore -– from Gladesville Bridge to the harbor heads.
All will be clamoring for space to catch the display that uses approximately 11,000 shells, 25,000 shooting comets and 100,000 individual pyrotechnic effects.
Mrs. Macquarie’s Point, Sydney Opera House, Embarkation Park in Potts Point, Circular Quay Promenade and Barangaroo in Millers Point all attract huge crowds.
However, there are certainly other vantage points outside the city center that offer great views but are infinitely more accessible and comfortable. Among them are Sydney Park in St Peter’s, North Head in Manly and Christison Park and Robertson Park in the eastern suburbs.
For a full listing of vantage points and map, go to www.sydneynewyearseve.com
Spice Afloat Sunrise Cruise
3 a.m., New Year's Day
For those who want to keep on partying past dawn, Spice Afloat leaves from Pyrmont wharf when most New Year’s Eve parties end: at 3 a.m.
This year’s lineup includes British act The Revenge and Motor City de Drum Ensemble from Denmark.
Minutes before dawn, the boat motors to the midway point between the north and south heads of Sydney Harbour, providing uninterrupted water views of the first sunrise of the year.
“We’ve been doing it for seven years now, and it’s always a significant moment,” organizer Murat Kilic says. “The music builds until the first speck of light appears on the horizon, then everyone goes crazy when the sun finally rises over the ocean. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Spice Afloat, Star City Casino Wharf, Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, +61 (0)2 9223 5585, $100 tickets sold out, www.recklessrepublic.com
Icebergs New Year's Day
Noon, New Year's Day
Want to feel transported to the hottest beach club in Miami, Mexico or St. Tropez without leaving Sydney? Many hair-flicking locals believe this event at Bondi Icebergs is the ultimate.
The sundrenched balconies of Sydney’s A-list restaurant is transformed into a pumping day club where the view is as beautiful as the people grinding it out on the dance floor.
Start scouting now for tickets to New Year’s Day 2013. Many registered unsuccessfully to purchase a limited number of tickets to this year’s event. Just got to be in that inner circle.
Icebergs New Year’s Day, 1 Notts Ave., Bondi Beach, Tickets $450 + booking fee. Includes finger food and some alcoholic beverages. +61 (0)2 9365 9000, www.youonlyliveonce.com.au
Space Ibiza Sydney Festival
Noon, New Year's Day
Since its Australian debut in 2009, Space Ibiza Sydney has seen the likes of Carl Cox and Steve Lawless rock 6,000-strong crowds at Fox Studios.
"This year, we decided to put on a smaller show with more underground acts,” co-promoter Scott Bayly said. “It now harks back to the essence of what Ibiza style parties stand for.”
At North Sydney’s converted church, the Greenwood Hotel, this year’s headline acts include Detroit’s Seth Troxler and Radio Slave and Eddie Richards from the United Kingdom.
2012 Space Ibiza Sydney Festival @ Greenwood Hotel, 36 Blue St., North Sydney, www.spaceibizafestival.com.au, January 1, noon-11 p.m., tickets $94 plus booking fee
Noon, New Year's Day
This congregation of park hedonism has made a name for itself with thousands of young Sydneysiders who dance away the year’s first day.
Industry legend Moby is the star DJ at this year's party that will see many thousands descend into The Domain. Justice, Crystal Castles and Gotye will also be on board for the trendsetting troupe.
Field Day, The Domain, www.fielddaynyd.com.au