5 Vantage Points to Watch the Sydney NYE Fireworks

If watching an epic display of midnight fireworks on New Year's Eve is on your bucket list, you need to start making plans to head to Sydney, Australia. Described by the City of Sydney as the "largest and most technologically advanced" fireworks display held on NYE anywhere in the world, it is watched by more than 1.5-million people in and around the world-famous harbor, and by close to double this number on TV.

While the fireworks display is the ultimate NYE experience, the City of Sydney has a build-up to the climax like no other. This includes a Harbor of Light Parade that moves through the Sydney Harbor Exclusion Zone after an early evening "family fireworks" display.

But be warned, to get a good spot to watch this amazing spectacle, you need to plan well in advance. For instance, if you want a five star meal and the opportunity to toast in the New Year with a glass of bubbly, you need to be sure that you can access a good restaurant and be served with alcohol. Many of the top vantage points do not allow any consumption of alcohol, and most prohibit people taking their own glasses into these areas. Many operate in a way that people are forced to take public transport.

This certainly doesn't affect demand. In 2011, crowds camped from the evening of December 30 (a Friday) to be sure they could claim their place at one of the best vantage points possible on the Sunday night.

Many people head straight for the Sydney Heads, the inner harbor, or the Parrramatta River (the main tributary that leads into the harbor) without considering other options. Here are five vantage points where you will be assured of an excellent view.

Circular Quay Promenade

If you want to be upfront and have the fireworks figuratively "in your face", this is the perfect vantage point to head for. The quay, located within Sydney Harbor's foreshore, opens at midday and entry is free. But there is only enough room for 4,500 people, so get there early. Generally the area reaches capacity by 5pm.

There is no alcohol allowed on the promenade, and you can't camp or have open-air barbecues. While there is nowhere to park cars or bikes, you can gain access by train or ferry. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair

This is an amazing place to view Sydney's annual fireworks spectacle. It's a public viewing area within the Royal Botanical Gardens, that has managed access and offers both food and bar services (you can buy alcohol here although you can't take your own). There's no camping and no fires are allowed.

Mrs Macquaries Point opens earlier than many other vantage points – at 10 in the morning. Entry is free and there's enough space for 20,000 people. They do warn that there is limited access for the disabled, however permits are available for parking for disabled persons. Other vehicles (including cycles) are not allowed on the site.

Blues Point in North Sydney

Blues Point is a nature reserve located at McMahons Point. Entry is free and the area has the capacity to accommodate up to 12,000 people. You can expect many people to be heading for Blues Point on New Year's Eve, so best get there early. No camping is permitted, and the reserve only opens at midday, so you're going to be in line for a queue. But by all accounts the wait will be worth it.

There is no vehicle or cycle parking in the reserve, and you will need to check on road closures before you go. Once you get into Blues Point Reserve, you'll find food and non-alcoholic beverages for sale. The do not allow any form of alcohol.

Luna Park on Milsons Point

Located towards the northern end of the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge, Luna Park is an amazing waterfront location that you shouldn't miss if you're visiting the city. So it certainly rates on our list of the top five vantage points to watch the Sydney NYE fireworks. In fact it could rate number one for you, since you will have plenty to do in the hours up to the start of the spectacular fireworks display.

On New Year's Eve, Luna Park hosts its famous Harbor Party, with world-class musical acts and free rides for over-18s only. Gates open at 6.30 pm, and there are plenty of venues within the Park that serve food and drink, including alcohol. So you can definitely look forward to popping that New Year bottle of champers.

While entry to Luna Park is usually free, you'll need a ticket to join the New Year's Eve party. Tickets are released progressively and always sell out; so you need to be on your toes. Stars of their 2011 party included Wynter Gordon, The Pobelleez, Zoë Badwi and Ajax.

A Boat in the Harbor

Then there's the option of taking to the water. There are a huge number of options available, from boats that you can charter, to those that you can hire. Choose from cruisers, yachts, catamarans, schooners, and even timber tall ships. Your budget will determine what you can afford! But the best NYE harbor cruises include food and drink and lots of music for you to dance the night away until the early hours.

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