How to Spend New Year’s Eve in Sydney on a Backpacker Budget
If you’re lucky enough to spend New Year’s Eve in Sydney, you want to do it right without breaking the bank. Many events can charge upwards of $200 per person, not including alcohol or food. I did some digging to find the best places to kiss 2019 goodbye in Sydney on a backpacker budget. The main attraction is the fireworks above the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
There are two shows, one at 9pm and one at midnight. The 9pm show is intended to be family-friendly, so the midnight viewings are sometimes less congested. Many free locations, especially those with good views, will reach capacity early in the day. If you decide to head to a free park, be sure to pack snacks and get there early! Darling Harbour also has a fireworks show, but many of the viewing locations are located at bars and clubs with pricey entrance fees and drinks.
1) Dawes Point (Tar-Ra) Park
Located under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this park offers a great view of the fireworks. Get there early so your view isn’t obstructed. Alcohol is not permitted here but food is for sale. This is a family-friendly location, but head to Side Bar after the fireworks to ring in the New Year the backpacker way. Location: Under the Harbour Bridge Cost: Free Transportation: Walking from CBD is best as trains will be congested Opens: 12:30pm (capacity normally reached before 8pm) More info here.
2) West Circular Quay
Watch the fireworks with the bridge on your left and a beautiful view of the Opera House on your right. Part of the view of the bridge is obstructed by trees and buildings, so arrive early to get a good spot. There is food for sale, but alcohol is not permitted. Location: Near Circular Quay with a side view of the bridge Cost: Free Transportation: Located by Circular Quay train station or a short walk to CBD hostels Opens: 10am (capacity typically reached before 7pm) More info here.
Sydney’s best backpacker bar Side Bar is hosting a NYE Glitter Party where there’ll be free glitter bar makeovers, confetti showers, a team of makeup artists on hand to make you feel fabulous, and glittering cocktails! The CBD is party-central on New Year’s Eve, so if you’re looking to avoid mass crowds, then escape the madness and watch the fireworks on the big screen at Side Bar! With live DJs and a bar filled with lively backpackers and students, you’re guaranteed to say hello to 2020 in style! Location: Side Bar Cost: Tickets are $20 + booking fee (Free for guests at Wake Up hostel!) Transportation: Opposite Central station and within walking distance from CBD Opens: 8pm Tickets and information here.
4) Sydney Opera House
What better way to bring in the New Year that at the Sydney Opera House itself? A rare and popular opportunity for a beautiful view, this spot is limited to 7,000 people. Alcohol is sold at this location, but unfortunately you cannot bring your own. Location: Sydney Opera House Cost: Free Transportation: Located by Circular Quay train station or a short walk to CBD hostels Opens: 7:30am (capacity typically reached by 1pm or even earlier) More here info.
5) Darling Harbour
Keen for something a little different than the typical Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge? Look no further! Darling Harbour has capacity for 40,000 people and a fireworks show of its own. There is a fireworks show in Darling Harbour at 9pm and midnight. This is a family friendly event so alcohol is prohibited. Check out the events at some of the bars and clubs in the area, such as Cargo and Bungalow, to party all night! Location: Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay Cost: Free (bars and clubs will charge cover fees) Transportation: A short walk to CBD hostels Opens: 1pm More info here.
6) Luna Park
If you’re okay spending a little more money, Luna Park on the opposite side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a great way to kick out 2019 and welcome 2020! With a spectacular view right below the bridge and free rides all night long, how could you go wrong? Alcohol and food is sold at the venue, but you cannot bring your own. Location: Luna Park, Sydney Cost: $190.00 general admission (early bird tickets sold out) Transportation: Train to Milsons Point station or walk and ferry to Milsons Point Wharf for a more scenic option. Opens: 6pm More info here.
7) Dudley Page Reserve
Looking for somewhere a little farther away from the city but with great views? For $40 per person, Dudley Page Reserve is the perfect spot to lay out a picnic blanket, enjoy a licensed bar, and watch the stunning fireworks from afar. Location: Military Road, Dover Heights Cost: $40.00 Transportation: Train to Bondi Junction, and then bus to Dover Heights. Opens: 6pm (queue begins around 4:30) More info here.
If these don’t sound like your cup of tea, jump across and check out more info from the party planners themselves on Sydney’s dedicated New Year’s Eve website here! No matter where you spend your New Year’s Eve, get ready to welcome 2019 with the friendliest people from all over the world!
by Janine Denney-Mazzilli
Hi there! My name is Janine and I am a self-professed, travel obsessed foodie from Seattle. I recently graduated the University of Washington and am now living my Australian dream on a working holiday! Follow along on @janini133