If you’re yet to plan how you’ll welcome the New Year, these are just some of the best places to watch the Sydney sky light up with fireworks, enjoy a glass (or three) of bubbles and kiss your loved ones as the clock strikes midnight. Happy New Year!
The go-to spot for Sydneysiders’ after-work drinks is also one of the best places to take in two Sydney icons at once: the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. This NYE, Opera Bar will channel a Miami beach party, complete with ornamental flamingos and palm trees. Don your oversized sunnies and best beachwear to sip on lurid, fruity cocktails and bust out your best dance moves to the live entertainment as fireworks go off over the bridge. Get in quick, though – this party has sold out for the past 15 years.
Lower Concourse Level, Sydney Opera House; (02) 9247 1666
Dress code: Beach chic
Doors open: 6pm
Tickets: $460pp + booking fee. Includes food and entertainment (drinks not included)
If rum is your drink of choice, this is the party for you. This harbourside bar – a hop, skip and champers up from the Opera Bar – is styled like a plantation home from the ‘50s and has a quality line-up of old-world drinks, including – of course – an array of rum-based cocktails. A Suzette, perhaps, with white rum, maraschino and orange liqueurs, absinthe, lemon juice and vanilla? Or something simpler, like a Don Juancho, made with dark rum, marmalade, brown sugar syrup and bitters? There’ll also be flowing bubbles, beers and wines, plus Cuban-style canapés for nibbling. Sit back on one of the sorbet-coloured sofas and watch the night come alive through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Level 3, 61 Macquarie Street; (02) 9256 4022
Dress code: Cocktail
Doors open: 7.30pm
Tickets: from $399pp. Includes canapés, Veuve Clicquot champagne on arrival and wine, beer and sparkling all night
Sydney Harbour Ferries
What’s the closest you can get to the New Year’s Eve action? Right under it. Join revellers on the harbour by grabbing a spot on board one of several Sydney Harbour Ferries that will be transformed for the night to take in the nine o’clock and midnight fireworks. While ferries leave from Rose Bay, Manly Wharf and Circular Quay, catching the latter, will include you in the Harbour of Light Parade and your ferry will park itself between the Opera House and the Bridge. Here, you can bask in being at the centre of the celebrations and let those infamous fireworks rain down on you. Thankfully, only half the seats on board are sold for the NYE celebrations, ensuring plenty of space and preventing a morning-commute mindset.
Circular Quay ferries depart from AMP Building, Alfred Street, Circular Quay; (02) 9246 8314
Dress code: None
Boarding starts: 6.15pm
Tickets: from $279, route depending
Pier One Sydney Harbour
Pier One is tucked under the Harbour Bridge so you’ll be bang in the middle of the festivities. Wander through the outdoor set-up of street-food and pop up bars. Order a Absolut and Havana rum cocktail, select a plate or two of seafood paella or pork bao buns, down a craft beer along with a few mini burgers or just be front and centre on the DJ’s dancefloor. It’s also the perfect spot to take a bridge-fireworks selfie.
11 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay; (02) 8298 9777
Dress code: Cocktail
Doors open: 8pm
Tickets: $499; discounts apply for bookings of 10
They say how you spend New Year’s Eve will set you up for the year ahead. So why not spend it indulging in great food? The Butler is holding a seven-course banquet – including dessert – for epicureans keen on welcoming the New Year with a plate of delicate ocean trout sashimi or a Wagyu breasola with sweet corn, quinoa and queso fresco. You’ll also get a glass of champagne to start and a mini espresso martini to finish, perfect fuel for kicking on throughout the night. See the illuminated city skyline from the greenery-loaded balcony or take a walk to the bottom of Victoria Street to get a better view.
123 Victoria Street, Potts Point; (02) 8354 0742
Doors open: 5.30pm
Tickets: $150; $95 for an add-on beverage package
Do you prefer an early dinner or a late supper? Either way, your last meal of 2018 is covered at Catalina, with sittings available for a set menu at 6pm (you must give up the table by 8.15pm) and 8.30pm onwards. There are advantages to each: an earlier booking means you get the sweeping view of boats bobbing in the harbour as they secure their floating vantage points for the evening; the latter means you get a front-row seat to Catalina’s own midnight fireworks. The set menu offers plenty of choice per course, too, with options such as seared scallops and duck leg terrine for entree and crispy barramundi or butternut pumpkin gnocchi for mains. The party continues on New Year’s Day with a Palm Springs-themed celebration featuring DJs and rounds of cocktails.
Lyne Park, Rose Bay; (02) 9371 0555
Tickets: $150 for the early sitting; $275 for the late. Drinks on consumption
Manly Wharf Hotel
It pays to remember that not all of Sydney’s New Year festivities happen south of the Bridge. Manly Wharf Hotel is throwing a huge dance party that will give you a “holistic” view of the fireworks plus the possibility of glimpsing the events at Manly Beach. There’s complimentary Heineken and sparkling for two hours before DJ Felix Da Housecat takes the decks for a long-lasting set. Prior to that, DJs Ben Morris, Jack McCord and Somatik will get you in the mood for partying like it’s, well, New Year’s Eve. Keen to keep celebrating? The venue is also holding a party on New Year’s Day.
Manly Wharf, East Esplanade, Manly; (02) 9977 1266
Doors open: 6pm
Image: Kat Cordwell