NYE in SYD

Attention: wordy post. This is me in full flight planning mode. If you’re on for some quick recommendations, skim to the end to cut the chat!

I started planning our New Year’s Eve 2015 in SYD about this time last year. NYE is a big deal in Sydney. I mean, you can understand why.

[I <3 Sydney]

Our circumstances

S and I considered various options when planning our NYE celebrations. We had a set of circumstances which we were working under…

~ It was just the two of us; no big group of friends to cater for variety of tastes or budgets
~ We were on holiday and it was a splurge trip for us, but we were staying with family so saving lots of money at the same time
~ Said family absolutely refused to let us stay in with them (they have 2 small children and had Done NYE in the past) but absolutely insisted we do something to celebrate
~ NYE is the anniversary of when we first got together so, as cliche as that is, it’s kinda special for us
~ I have a bad back and coeliac disease, so as well as being a total treat to cater for (and you don’t want to see me hangry), I can’t stand up for long periods of time
~ We were staying around the Double Bay/Rose Bay area so could conveniently get to quite a few places using public transport, and we were even walkable distance from Circular Quay
~ Flexibility. We don’t like to feel too restricted or trapped by our choices. If we’re having a horrible time, are in pain or want to leave, we wanted to be able to do that.

[Our NYE view… not too shabby]

Options

There are quite a few options to be had if you want to celebrate your new year in Sydney. I mean, it’s a big place and they do go all out.

Watching from a public park ¦¦ The best options we found were Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and Nielsen Park, but we also considered North or South head (which we discounted for being too far away and tricky to get to via public transport or park). The public parks are a good choice if you’re in a big group of friends, as it’s generally a gold coin donation to get in, but for us it wouldn’t have been a good option because you do have to arrive pretty early to bag a good spot, and the thought of spending all day in the direct sun just to reserve a space in a huge crowd was just too much. Also, you have to bring enough food to last the day (and keep it cool!) and gluten free picnics are rubbish. The views tend to be quite restricted and it gets super busy, super early.

Watching from Circular Quay ¦¦ We heard a few horror stories about the crush at Circular Quay and were put right off. Plus it would involve too much standing up for me, and we’d have the same food problems as above.

Watching from the zoo  ¦¦ This was nearly our top choice. There’s a similar tiering of tickets arrangement as at the Botanic Gardens (see below), with food included, and if you get the most expensive tickets, you can pet animals from the zoo while you’re waiting for the fireworks! In reality, the view isn’t as good as from Circular Quay, you won’t be able to hear the music and the tickets are just as expensive. Plus it would have been impossible for us to get back home after the proceedings were over. This would however be a fantastic option if you lived on the North Shore (and really liked animals).

Watching from one of the islands ¦¦  You can buy tickets to watch from one of the islands but the transport options were too restrictive for us – there is one ferry over, and one ferry back. They leave quite early and late respectively, and it’s long time hanging around on an island. Plus, you have to bring everything yourself, including chairs and tents (!) which all sounded like too much of a shebang. Also, being on holiday, we didn’t have any of that stuff.

Watching from a restaurant or bar ¦¦ We saw the price of tickets or a meal at anywhere with a view (eg the Shangri-La, or Opera Bar), laughed, and shut the browser window.

Staying in and watching it on the telly  ¦¦ This was tempting after we’d done the sums, but you can do that anywhere in the world and it’s not that special, is it? Plus our family forbade it.

A houseparty ¦¦ We sad tourists didn’t know anyone throwing a party, so that wasn’t an option! We did walk home past quite a few though, which looked like a blast.

The Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust ¦¦ There are a few events to choose from here, and I found it confusing to tell the difference between them. They’ve updated their website this year and it’s much clearer, but just in case, I’ll explain the difference briefly…
1. Midnight at The Oasis
~ The most expensive option
~ Sit down dinner with live music (jazz?); billed as romantic and aimed at slightly older age group
~ The nicest loos (portacabins)
~ You have to walk through this section to get to The Point (here’s a helpful map)
~ Very good view
~ Slightly later arrival time, for those who like to swan in at the last minute
~ Adults only
2. The Point
~ The middle option, price wise
~ Street food style dinner with packed dinner and snack
~ A bit of live music (a folk singer) and a DJ at midnight
~ Alright loos (portaloos) but on your way in and out you can sneak into the portacabins in Midnight at The Oasis
~ Excellent view – the best, I’d argue
~ Fairly narrow arrival window; they have to get you all in before they can admit people to Midnight at The Oasis, so you’ve got between 6-7.30pm to arrive.
~ Adults only


3. Lawn with the View
~ Cheapest option (but still not cheap!)
~ Picnic provided and you bring your own blanket etc to sit on
~ Slightly restricted view
~ Family friendly

4? New Year’s Eve Under the Stars
Wildcard option, which seemed to pop up much closer to the time. Not sure this happens every year.
Sponsored corporate event, which seemed fairly good value
Restricted view and not that much space, either
Inclusive food was more canapé style (and not particularly allergy friendly) – I think the focus was more on the drinks
A good option if you want to party and drink a lot, and not necessarily worry about food!

What we picked and why

We decided to spend our NYE at The Point, and may I say, it was an excellent choice. 

[General ambience at The Point. Oh hi harbour bridge.]

Here’s why. 

~ The Botanic Gardens have a lot of meaning for us; we got engaged there!
~ I’m pretty sure we had the best view on the harbour, including the parade of lights and aerial shows that go on throughout the evening
~ There really was a laid back vibe with a slight festival edge (albeit a really expensive festival). There was a nice mix of ages and everyone was very chatty
~ The crowd was relatively low density, which meant it didn’t feel rammed or claustrophobic, and the lines for food never got crazy
~ The food was genuinely tasty, with plenty to keep me going all night. I got a special gluten free picnic, which was delicious, and I could eat something on most of the food stands

[Food stands at The Point]

~ They provided free water but no booze; there was a cash bar which was not as outrageously priced as I was expecting
~ The live music was a bit of a non-event but we weren’t there for that so we didn’t mind

~ Lawn with the View didn’t have such a good view, and wasn’t that much cheaper. Plus the food didn’t look as good, and it was a family event. We are child free snobs and prefer no children…! (And alcohol to be served)
~ Midnight at the Oasis was a fancier affair but the space was smaller and they really packed you in. There was a relatively small stretch of harbour front which everyone had to share, taking it in turns to take selfies in front of the view…!
~ The Point had by far the longest stretch of harbour front which meant we got to sit right by the water for the entire evening. Again I refer you to the map which illustrates this nicely…

[Front row seats]

General tips for NYE in SYD

~ Don’t bother trying to drive anywhere near the CBD all day. It will be shut.
~ Don’t bother trying to find anywhere to eat during the day except fast food places. They will be shut.
~ Plan your transport carefully. All the public transport timetables go up the wazoo.
~ We were convinced taxis would be as easy to find as magical unicorns, but actually we could have hailed one to get home. We decided to walk instead in the end, but it was good to know it was an option.
~ Soak up some street atmosphere, if you can. Our walk home was brilliant because we bumped into plenty of revellers and got to wish them all a happy 2015!

You can register your interest here, and you’ll be invited to a pre-sale for the tickets. I’d highly recommend this, as everything sells out ridiculously early.


Having scheduled this for a couple of weeks ago, before my unexpected blogging hiatus, I got an email 2 days ago informing me that pre-release tickets were now on sale. Yesterday, I got another email informing me that most pre-release tickets have sold out. Don’t worry, tickets are now on general release so you can get yours straight away. But be quick! They will sell out fast.

Where was your favourite NYE celebration? What made it special?

-Rachel


Linking up with Lauren, Courtney Bonnie for Travel Tuesday, and with Malinda for Wednesday Wanderlust.

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21 Comments

  1. 22nd September 2015 / 12:57

    I’m glad you had a great time! I spent NYE in Sydney once and that one was enough for me! We went to a function thingy so thankfully it wasn’t too crowded and we had a good view of the fireworks etc, but it was hell getting in and out. Of course, I spent lots of NYEs in Sydney technically, but not in the city. I’ve spent NYE in London, that was pretty awesome.

    • 23rd September 2015 / 11:47

      Yes, having said what a marvellous time I had, I’m not sure I’d do it again…! It was pretty full on. We were so lucky to have been able to walk home! Believe it or not I’ve never spent NYE in London properly, despite living down the road all my life. Should probably fix that!

  2. 22nd September 2015 / 15:07

    NYE in Sydney sounds like so much fun! It definitely sounds like you got the best of both worlds when you chose The Point, not to mention great views of the Harbor!

    • 23rd September 2015 / 11:48

      It really was! We had such a great time in the end, it was just what we were after. The views were stunning. I just sat and gazed all night!

  3. Andrea On Vacation
    22nd September 2015 / 16:56

    haha! Taxis on NYE= magical unicorns. Great comparison! I’ve never done NYE anywhere crazy but I’ve always wanted to do Times Square just once.

    • 23rd September 2015 / 11:50

      I’ve heard horror stories about Times Square (eg having to arrive suuuuper early, being freezing, having to stand up for like, >8 hours, and not being allowed to leave to go to the loo?!?) but it’s really a once in a lifetime thing, isn’t it? And at least it’s free, which this even was not! It suited us perfectly, though 🙂

  4. 22nd September 2015 / 16:59

    I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of NYE but boy, are there many options to spend it in Sydney!! Seems like you had an awesome time there!

    • 23rd September 2015 / 11:52

      I haven’t been previously either, I will also admit! But they go in for it in such a big way that it was almost rude (haha) not to participate…! We did have a totally awesome time, but I’m not sure I’d do such a big event again.

  5. 22nd September 2015 / 17:14

    Wow you really planned it out to the T! And it sounds like they sure do know how to do it in Sydney!

    • 23rd September 2015 / 11:52

      I know, I even make myself sick with it sometimes. They really, really do know how to throw a NYE bash in Sydney! We had a blast.

  6. 23rd September 2015 / 11:01

    NYE is always so tough to plan bc it’s always so crowded EVERYWHERE! But NYE in Sydney is going to be great! The fireworks are always unreal!

    • 23rd September 2015 / 12:42

      I know! And I hate the crowds, too. It was a fabulous experience, and I loved it. NYE in Sydney is certainly a special event! My jaw was hanging on the ground for the entirety of the fireworks. Hands down best I’ve ever seen.

  7. 23rd September 2015 / 11:32

    Gorgeous photos! I don’t usually do much for NYE because I like to hike on New Year’s Day, but Sydney looks like a real event!

    • 23rd September 2015 / 12:44

      We don’t normally go big for NYE either, mostly because we’re lazy unlike you! I’m impressed by a NYD hike, but it’s a really nice idea. Sydney was definitely a real event!

  8. Natalie
    24th September 2015 / 01:45

    I dislike NYE anywhere as it is usually very overrated. We usually stay home with the kids, have a BBQ and play some music and at midnight we watch the Melbourne and Sydney fireworks display on TV. But I imagine being in Sydney during the fireworks would be special- last time I was in Sydney was for Australia Day fireworks and that was pretty impressive.

    • 24th September 2015 / 21:02

      I would normally have agreed with you – way overrated. However, we felt this time we’d jump on the bandwagon and I have to say I had a fantastic time. Sometimes you’ve just got to drink the kool aid a bit! That said, I think this year will be a somewhat quieter affair…

  9. 24th September 2015 / 14:04

    We spent the last New Years posted on the couch in Brisbane watching the Sydney fireworks on TV! It was actually quite nice.

    • 24th September 2015 / 21:23

      That sounds like my usual New Year to be honest! And yes, they are usually quite nice! I imagine we’ll be taking that approach this year, too. Vive le couch.

  10. 25th September 2015 / 08:03

    Oh, how fun! We looked into doing NYE in SYD this coming year, but it’s a bit too much for our budget this time. We wanted to do a boat ride during NYE. I guess that’s a really expensive option. 🙂 I think my favorite NYE was last year in Hoi An.

  11. 26th September 2015 / 20:51

    First of all, I’m obsessed with that top/dress/whatever it is! SO freakin cute!! Second, while I’m not the biggest fan of NYE, usually A LOT of planning (as you did), too much hype and then a not so amazing outcome, it looks like you really made the most of it! Great views, with space and affordable food! How could it get any better?! Sure hope I can make it over to Sydney sometime sooon ….

  12. 28th September 2015 / 10:37

    I am yet to have a NYE in Sydney, I don’t usually head out for it but I think if I was in Sydney I’d like to. Thanks for joining in #wednesdaywanderlust, I’m a bit late commenting but I was travelling so I figured that was a good excuse 🙂

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