I never intended on going to Australia during my trip abroad in the fall of 2014. I planned on spending December in Southeast Asia and figured it would be cheapest to fly home from a large coastal city like Singapore or Hong Kong but s it turns out it was actually cheaper to make my way down to Australia, spend New Years in Sydney followed by a week in Hawaii before heading back to Toronto. Hey! I’ll take that, no complaints here!
I arrived in Sydney early in the morning on Tuesday December 30th and spent the day touring around the city, visiting the Opera House and various other sites around the harbor. The next day on New Years eve I was told I should go to one of the 68 viewpoints around the city by around 1-3pm in the afternoon in order to get a spot from which to watch the fireworks that night! This seemed crazy! Getting a pot that early and waiting for 8-10 hours for a fireworks display! Seems like madness to me.
The morning of December 31st I met some new guests at the place I was staying and ended up going with one of them to meet up with her friends in Sydney and get in line at the Mrs. Macquaries chair vantage point. We got to the line at about 10AM and it was already HUGE! Lining up at 10 AM for fireworks that were 14 hours away! This show had better be amazing!
Finally after about 2 hours we got in to the point at about noon and found a place with an OK view but it was close by an opening in the trees that provided a spectacular view of the harbor bridge and Opera house. The thing about the Mrs. Macquaries chair viewpoint is that it has a great view of the harbor bridge and Opera House so you get an awesome view during the fireworks show but on the downside it has many trees around which block a lot of the prime viewing area so once the fireworks begin, everyone tries to crowd around any of the openings in the trees to get a better views. The Mrs. Macquaries point alone contained about 16,000 people! It was very crowded to say the least. There are an additional 1.5+ million people that flock to Sydney for the New Years festivities so the entire city is chaos at this time of year.
I spent the day with 5 other amazing people I had met that day and we just played card games and sat around chatting the afternoon away while we waited for one of the most world renowned fireworks shows in the world! At 9PM there is an early fireworks show and then the big one, obviously, at midnight! Mrs. Macquaries point does have washroom facilities and many vendors selling food to the 16,000 people who were crowded in this one small area to see this amazing show.
The thing about any of the vantage points around the city is they often reach capacity early in the morning/afternoon so don’t expect to go to any of them at say 7 or 8pm and be able to get in and see the fireworks. They close the gates once they are full. Entrance to most of the viewpoints is free but others, such as The Point are ticketed and tickets often sell out well in advance for those too. Many people even camp out the night before at the more popular viewpoints such as the Opera House just to get in early and get a better spot the next day.
It was a loooong day waiting in line from 10AM and then waiting around the viewpoint for 12 hours but boy was the show worth it! It was by far the best fireworks show I have ever seen, even better than any of the shows you see on TV such as the New York display. I can see why so many people come to Sydney for New Years celebrations. The show lasted about 15 minutes and then everyone had to leave the viewpoint as it closed at 12:30 AM.
I have linked the video below of the 2014/15 fireworks display I witnessed as well as some of the pictures.
If I could do it again, I would definitely go to Sydney to celebrate New Years again! I absolutely love the city and the fireworks show is unlike any other. However next time I would do a couple things differently. I would like to rent a boat and spend the day on the water in the harbor and see the fireworks from there as they really do get the best view and it would be a fantastic way to spend New Years. Also, I would book a flight out of Sydney early on January 1st heading to Hawaii or LA to celebrate New Years for a second time there. Sydney is one of the first places in the world to welcome the new year and Hawaii one of the last so if you get the flight timings right you can make it over the date line (between Australia and Hawaii) and celebrate New Years twice in the same year. I was almost able to do this but never thought about it until after my flights were booked. I left Sydney on January 1st at 6pm and arrived in Hawaii at 6AM on January 1st so while I was 6 hours late to celebrate New Years twice, I did get two January 1st’s this year which is pretty cool in and of itself!
Here’s to hopefully spending New Years in an awesome location every year from now on!