New Year’s Eve means something different for everyone – a blow-out of epic proportions, a low-key get-together with mates, or just another night curled up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea. This year, there’s a good chance it’ll mean the same thing for most: a chance to put the weirdness of this year (and last) behind us, once and for all. And Sydney’s bars, restaurants and public spaces are going all out, with a host of celebrations that’ll really see out the year in style. Here’s our picks.
The Unesco World Heritage-listed site is the only harbour island where you can stay overnight. Make the most of it: eat and drink, take a tour of the island, then finish the year with a live performance by Opera Australia. Deluxe camping options (tent, bedding and seating) are still available, but the prime real estate is running out fast. Accommodation packages for two range in price from $480 to $1100. Tickets to the opera performance of La Boheme start at $199.
Watersedge at Campbell’s Stores
Chasing front-row seats to the midnight fireworks? Stop the search – seafood eatery Watersedge is throwing a New Year’s Eve bash inside the historic Campbell’s Stores at Circular Quay, with six hours of free-flowing booze, snacks and live DJs. Tickets start at $475, but if you’re keen to splash out go for a waterfront igloo. They’re big enough for 10 people and come with a personalised butler ferrying French bubbles and elegant Japanese dishes by newly opened diner Bay Nine Omakase. Every package includes access to a designated viewing platform for those knockout harbour views. Book packages here or email email@example.com for igloo bookings.
Bar 83 at Sydney Tower
To truly end the year on a high, ascend to the top of Sydney Tower for a New Year’s Eve celebration among the clouds. Bar 83 – the tower’s ritzy, ’70s-inspired cocktail bar – is hosting a party from 8pm to 1am. Starting from $795, packages include a glass of fancy bubbles on arrival, bottomless drinks, a midnight toast and a live DJ spinning tracks as you soak up the highest views in town.
The dining room inside Matt Moran’s iconic waterside restaurant offers an incredible vantage point of the harbour festivities, and executive chef Tom Gorringe has whipped up a New Year’s Eve menu worthy of the action. The early session runs from 5pm to 7pm, and includes four courses for $300. The main event kicks off at 7.30pm and runs right through to the midnight fireworks display. It’s a six-course degustation with champers on arrival (and a splash more at midnight), plus premium wines and a gift to take home. Book here.
NYE Gala at Hinchcliff House
This heritage-listed former wool store in Circular Quay had an impressive makeover this year. To ring in the next, it’s throwing an all-inclusive, multi-level house party that includes five hours of food, drink and live entertainment for $450. Roam the building’s three venues – Apollonia, Grana and Lana – and enjoy a glass of Ruinart on arrival, plus an oyster bar, seafood spread and dessert station to pick at throughout the night. Best of all, you’ll get signature cocktails by Hinchcliff House’s outstanding Sicilian-style basement bar, Apollonia. Book here.
The city’s most dapper cocktail bar is offering two packages to help you get to midnight in style. The first includes two cocktails, a grazing platter and a glass of Taittinger champagne ($150 per person); the second is designed for groups of four or more, and comes with caviar, a bottle of Ruinart champers and cocktails from the top shelf ($325 per person). Email to book firstname.lastname@example.org.
Royal Botanic Garden
Not one, but six events are happening within the lush surrounds of the gardens this year. Naturally, you’ll be in prime position for the fireworks. But otherwise, your festive choices range from a chilled-out waterside picnic on Bennelong Lawn beneath the Opera House, to a summer dance party with live entertainment at Mrs Macquaries Point. There’s a suitable option for every mode, all in proximity to food trucks, pop-up bars and, importantly, loos. Book here.
If you need a good family-friendly option this New Year’s Eve, Taronga is the foreshore for you. Bring the kids and set up a picnic at one of the zoo’s three incredible vantage points. If you don’t want to lug food and drinks, everything you’ll need to be fed and watered is available on-site. Tickets, packages and add-ons range in price from $110 to $900, and some include zoo access until 6pm, plus transfers to and from Spit Junction. All ticket sales support Taronga’s ongoing conservation work. Buy them here.