There is truly no better place to spend New Year's Eve and greet the New Year than having a picnic on Sydney Harbour. John and I did it 10 years ago and I greatly treasured this enjoyable and amazing experience. So there was no doubts that this New Year's Eve we would do it again and take our 9 year old daughter along with us.
To make the most out of the day you must follow a few simple rules.The most important one is to be there early. The most desirable locations around the harbour see people camping there a couple of days before the event. We chose Balls Head Reserve. It is not the most wanted spot for New Years Eve fireworks hence you don’t need to camp there a few days beforehand. Located behind the Harbour Bridge, it still gives and amazing view of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Darling Harbour and the city skyline.
We managed to get there by 10am and sadly the best spots were already occupied. There were some professional New Year Eve goers with a bit tent set of large blankets, chairs, portable bbq and huge cool boxes. To get the best positions you don’t only have to arrive early but also you have to be willing to spend the whole day in the scorching heat without any natural shade available.
Despite being ‘late’ to find the best available place at Balls Head to watch the fireworks from we were very lucky to befriend a group of young Europeans who came here early enough to get the best spot at Balls Head. Having found out that they come here at 6am we all agreed that they deserved the best view of the Harbour. They were super nice and allowed us to join them and we were able to enjoy the best fireworks ever!
New Year Eve picnic is totally worth getting up early to secure a good position. Spending the last day of the year outside, having a picnic, playing games and chatting away is truly magical. It was great to chat with our new French, Belgian and German friends. Listening to stories about their Aussie adventures and sharing ours.
As the day progressed more people gathered and more boats on the harbour waters appeared. Towards the evening boats, cruise ships on the harbour and city lights started to twinkle and shortly after, the first set of fireworks began.
I’m not aware of any other place in the world where New Years Eve has 2 sets of fireworks.The first one at 9pm and the proper one at midnight.The 9pm ones are to cater for the families with young children who cannot wait til midnight.The 9pm display is great but never as good as the midnight event.
From 9pm people tend to take their best position to watch fireworks and don’t move from there until after midnight.Sometimes you get some cheeky strangers that appear out of nowhere and try to overtake the most strategically important spot.You just have to be brave enough to remind them you camped here from early morning and the best view is for you not them.At midnight the main event begins and the 2016/17 fireworks display was truly an amazing and spectacular event.Perfectly framed by the glittering city and with the harbour water flawlessly reflecting all that’s above there is truly no New Year's Eve celebration quite like Sydney.
Watching the amazing shapes and colours light up the harbour and listening to people gasping with amazement we felt so privileged to be here in Sydney again on this special night.
As the display went on I held my daughter close to me as we watched it all together with amazement and gratitude.I realised my little Lily is waving goodbye to single digit birthday numbers as in 2017 she will be 10. I told her what a special place we were in and how fortunate we were to end this chapter of her life here in Sydney watching fireworks.She squeezed my hand and we gave each other a hug that I will remember and cherish forever.
There is no doubt that Sydney New Year's Eve fireworks should be on everyone's bucket list.;">We are truly in love with them and the way you can spend the last day of the year in Australia, having a picnic with friends and family and also making new friends as well.
Quick review and hot tips
There are a number of free and paid locations from which to enjoy the fireworks. If you opt for free than be prepared for a long hot day and remember to bring plenty of water and snacks.
Be aware that there are a lot of alcohol free zones and unless you want to see in the new year with a fine then take the time to understand whether your location is one of those places. There are plenty of free and fantastic places to watch fireworks and you should consider:
Circular Quay - The area opens at 9am with great views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Harbour.
Darling Harbour - Opening late morning (11am) this is a great location for families with plenty of free entertainment throughout the day and night.
Mrs Macquarie’s Point - THE… BEST… LOCATION. There’s no arguing the toss on this one – this is the best place to watch the fireworks with panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and city skyline. In years gone by people would camp for days to have the best spot but now it opens at 10am with entry being by donation. Warning: this is the best spot to watch the fireworks and everyone will be there so expect crowds… big crowds.
Blues Point Reserve - OK, in my opinion Mrs Macquaries Point is the best location but Blues Point Reserve runs an easy second. Situated behind the Harbour Bridge you have unobstructed views with the fireworks happening almost directly overhead. The area opens at 10am and there will be thousands of people well before 10am. Fantastic views if you don’t mind feeling like a sardine for a long hot day.
If you don’t mind spending some of your hard earned money then there are a number of venues which are ticketed. This is good in that it allows you to be guaranteed a great view without the hassle of hanging about all day. Some of the locations worth considering include:
Barangaroo Reserve - If you don’t want to hang about all day you can purchase tickets for $29.50 (adults) with the site opening at 6pm.The position is fantastic with views of the Harbour Bridge and a barge full of fireworks directly in front of you.However, it’s not just the fireworks that are great at this location, because of it’s position you will get to watch the sunset which in Sydney can be quite spectacular.There are also performers entertaining the crowd at this location and with tickets limited, you won’t be squashed in like a sardine and so be able to enjoy your evening picnic dinner
Taronga Zoo - One of the top locations on the Harbour, Taronga Zoo is a great location with good views of the Opera House and Bridge. Tickets are limited and expensive ($190 for an adult when we checked). The upside however is that you can enjoy the animals while you wait.
Benelong Lawn, Royal Botanic Gardens - If money is no object than find yourself a big yacht on the Harbour from which to view the fireworks. If you still have a big budget but your budget doesn’t stretch quite as far as a yacht then this is one of the premiere locations.- Tickets start at $329 for adults with the site opening late (7pm) but you are right in the thick of it if you can find the money for a ticket.