Sydney is a city that loves to celebrate. From the world’s best New Year’s Eve celebration to the light-filled spectacular that is Vivid Sydney, the city knows how to put on a show. Plan your visit to the Harbour City to take in one of these world-famous events alongside all the other glittering attractions Sydney has to offer.
Sydney New Year’s Eve
When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, there’s no better place to be than Sydney. Sydney is one of the first major cities in the world to cross the dateline, making it one of the most sought-after destinations. With eight tonnes of fireworks, 100,000 pyrotechnic displays, more than 1.5 million spectators and a global audience of 1 billion, Sydney is the New Year’s Eve capital of the world.
The whole city comes together in celebration as Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House explode into a riot of colour and light. Each year, the sequence is completely unique and inspired by significant events of the past 12 months. There are vantage points all across the city where you can watch the spectacular show for free.
Circular Quay, The Rocks, the Royal Botanic Garden and Mrs Macquarie’s Point all offer a front row seat, though spots fill up early. Darling Harbour is well known as an exciting, family-friendly location thanks to its program of live music and light shows. On the north side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, head to Blues Point Reserve at McMahons Point or Bradfield Park at Milsons Point for some of the best views of the cityscape and its icons.
Each year in May, Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas, takes over the Harbour City. Now in its 11th year, the annual festival is a celebration of innovation and creativity that runs for more than three weeks. Sydney’s crisp winter nights, starry skies and iconic buildings make the perfect backdrop for ground-breaking light installations by artists from around the world.
Each night during the festival, iconic precincts of Sydney such as The Royal Botanic Garden, The Rocks, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Kings Cross, Luna Park, Chatswood and Taronga Zoo light up with not-to-be-missed art installations and projections. Follow the Vivid Light Walk through the city to see all of the major projections displayed on buildings around Sydney Harbour.
The most famous installation is the Lighting of the Sails on the Sydney Opera House. The sails become an artist’s canvas as a captivating light show is projected onto the façade. A new work is designed specifically for the building and crowds line the foreshore to watch the magic unfold.
There are also special installations designed to appeal to children. The wonderland of light art sculptures, fun interactive installations and painterly projections are the kind of experiences big memories are made of for little ones. Taronga Zoo is always a family-favourite and each year huge illuminated animals pop up around the grounds of the zoo. The installations also have an important conservation message and aim to equip the next generation with the knowledge to protect the world’s wildlife.
There’s much more to Vivid Sydney than just the lights. Vivid Music brings the world’s best performers to the city’s concert halls, jazz bars and theatres for exclusive performances. The Vivid Ideas program spans the innovation and imagination sector, exploring fresh thinking across tech, design and culture. Creatives, inventors, industry leaders and experts take the stage for an insightful series of lectures, panel discussions and workshops. Vivid Music and Vivid Ideas are ticketed, but there are many free events as well as events that are suitable for the whole family.