New Year's Eve 2015: A Sydney Harbour Celebration

30th Dec 2015 Australia Holiday Destinations

Captain Cook Cruises Sydney Harbour

The New Year’s Eve party held annually on Sydney’s Harbour is as famous throughout the world as the city itself. Offering one of the best New Year’s Eve firework’s displays in the world, NYE on the Sydney Harbour Bridge is Australia’s answer to the ball drop in Times Square, New York City. Featuring a new theme every year, one billion people agree that this amazing pyrotechnic spectacle is THE way to see in the new year. Watched by approximately 1.6 million spectators on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour as well as 2.3 million across Australia and millions more around the world, the television broadcasts and radio simulcasts help to make this the party of the year.

A family affair, the New Year’s Eve extravaganza begins at 6pm with Matt Hall, a flying ace set to thrill crowds with his masterful aerial display. By 7pm a stunning water display is in full swing with a simple tug boat taking centre stage to wow crowds before Matt Hall returns at 8pm for his final curtain call. All this pre-show entertainment is followed by the incredible pylon projections, where the huge pylons of the Harbour Bridge are transformed from massive blank canvases into moving, illuminated works of art as their surfaces alight with videos and full-size images created especially for the night. Keep your eye out for the appearance of the countdown to the fireworks display which will also be projected onto the pylons.

From here, proceedings take a bit of a cultural turn as the Welcome to Country ceremony marks respect for the heritage and living culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Eucalyptus smoke snakes its way up into the sky as it is released over the water, cleansing the Harbour of any bad spirits. This moving ritual is accompanied by spectacular imagery of Eora country projected onto the bridge pylons. It’s then on to the first of the fireworks displays, this one aimed at the littlest spectators who may not make it to midnight. The family fireworks display is a fantastic show of colourful explosions with rockets firing from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and 4 barges floating on the sparkling waters of the Harbour. Directed by Fortunato Foti, the fireworks display will pay tribute to 100 years of Taronga Zoo and the 200th year of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

As the family fireworks are extinguished and the waters of the Harbour grow dark, the Harbour of Light Parade illuminates this Sydney icon with up to 60 ships floating across the water. Decorated with cool white lights, each vessel dazzles the crowd and enchants spectators of all ages with its unique choreography as they all combine to dance in the glow of the Harbour. Then it’s on to the event we’ve all been waiting for – the Midnight Fireworks Display! As the clock strikes midnight, we’ll see the New Year in in the most spectacular way. The night sky will explode with a huge range of stunning pyrotechnic effects lasting for 12 minutes. With firing points from 4 of the Sydney Opera House sails, across the Harbour Bridge and 7 barges floating in the Harbour, no matter where your vantage point is located on the night, you’ll enjoy incredible views of this incandescent exhibition.

With so many spectators flocking to the harbour, a number of restrictions will be in place. We advise moving into position at the recommended vantage points well before sunset to ensure you don’t miss out, as popular spots always fill up very quickly. There are a great range of recommended vantage points across the Harbour including Shell Cove, Neutral Bay, Mosman Bay and Athol Bay north-east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as the Greenwich Ferry Jetty, Clarkes Point, Balls Head, Manns Point, Lavender Bay and Berrys Bay north-west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. South-east of the Bridge, vantage points include Woolloomooloo, Rose Bay, Double Bay, Rushcutters Bay and Farm Cove, however only vessels under 15m long may use Farm Cove. There are also some great vantage points south-west of the Harbour Bridge including Snails Bay, Mort Bay and Ballast Point. Wherever you choose to ‘drop anchor’ be sure to tune into the synchronised simulcast on 104.1 2Day FM.

To cope with the demand of all the spectators, an extra 4500 public transport services have been added so catching a train, bus or ferry on the night is definitely the go. Crowds are certainly expected so be sure to make a plan and arrive early, particularly if you are travelling into the city. Whether you’re lucky enough to be witnessing this visually spectacular celebration from a vantage point on the harbour forshore or tuning into the radio and televisions broadcasts from elsewhere, there really is no better way to celebrate the New Year than with the iconic NYE extravaganza on iconic Sydney Harbour.