There is no doubt that Australia’s premiere city has one of the most spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks displays in the world – definitely worthy of an entire family holiday. But travelling into town on one of the busiest and rowdiest nights of the year with children does require some planning. Here are suitcases&strollers' tips for how you can still celebrate Auld Lang Syne in Sydney with kids in tow.
What you need to keep in mind is that the entire New Year’s Eve fireworks display is based around the Sydney Harbour and it’s famous bridge. Thousands of people cram into the city jockeying for the same public transport and best spot to see the aerial show. It is (at a minimum) a full afternoon’s planning of arriving early, picking a spot and hanging out to wait the (several) hours before the lightshow begins. Patience and planning are the key to a successful and fun (rather than harassed and exhausting) experience.
· It pays to go early. In any other city arriving mid-afternoon for a midnight fireworks show would seem ridiculously OTT, but this is absolutely what you will need to do if you want to avoid crowds or arriving disappointed. It is not unreasonable to plan to get to your chosen spot sometime around lunchtime.
· Because you will be there for so long, you need to pack a provisions kit to keep the kids (and you) occupied. Think picnic blankets, snacks and picnic food for day through to evening and everything from sunscreen and hats to jumpers for the night chill and umbrellas for the rain. It’s also worth bringing games for the kids – cricket sets, a soccer ball, books and iPads will keep them busy when the conversation wanes.
· Choose a spot that has lots of amenities and is close to public transport. Public transport is the most reliable way to get in and out quickly. There are several helpful Apps you can download here. Do not rely on taxis – it is almost impossible to get one on New Year’s Eve.
· Many vantage spots have public toilets which will be essential if you plan to be there all day. Pack a torch for the many trips to the toilet in the dark and toilet paper for when the port-a-loos run out.
· It’s worth considering choosing a spot that is alcohol-free. While this might mean less fun for you, it is a safer bet for families as these spots are far less attractive to rowdy troublemakers.
· There are always two fireworks displays and it’s worth aiming for the more manageable 9pm family show rather than the midnight show proper. Not only does this avoid ratty, over-tired kids, it also means when you are trying to leave you will be walking out with other families rather than drunken adults.
· Plan your trip around the official Sydney New Year’s Eve website which provides all the information you need about vantage points and their accessibility to public transport and toilets. It also allows you to search for vantage points that are stroller- and wheelchair-friendly and will even tell you the likely times the sites will reach capacity.
· It can be hard to keep track of kids when it’s dark and crowded so have a back-up plan just in case. Prep older children with a meeting spot to go to after the show if they get lost and put some form of identification on little kids such as wristbands with your telephone or hotel number.
For more ideas on things to do in Sydney with kids, see the suitcases&strollers interview with former Wiggle Sam Moran here or see the suitcases&strollers story Family Days Out In Sydney.
Images: Hamilton Lund; Destination NSW