NOT many cities do it better than Sydney when it comes to New Year’s Eve celebrations. From aerial shows to smoking ceremonies to fireworks on the harbour, it’s got it all.
#1 Aerial Show
As the clock ticks down to 2012, enjoy some pre-firework entertainment with a “theatre in the sky” aerial show above Sydney Harbour.
The flyovers, performed by Top Gun Royal Australian Air Force pilots in vintage planes, will signal the start of Sydney’s NYE festivities, themed Time to Dream, at around 6pm.
Sydney Port’s Ted Noff fire tugs will also turn up on the scene, blasting tons of water into the skies to create a virtual rainbow against the last sunset of 2011.
#2 Traditional Smoking Ceremony
No proper Australian celebration can go ahead without a smoking ceremony to ward off bad spirits, as is customary among the original owners of the land.
Five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vessels will perform the ritual to cleanse the harbour at around 8pm, while the NYE countdown is projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons.
As part of the ceremony, the Acknowledgement of Country will be delivered to pay tribute to the Gadigal clan at 8.45pm, followed by a series of teaser fireworks.
#3 Family Fireworks
No need to fret about missing the fireworks if it’s pass the kids’ bedtime. An early-bird pyrotechnics display specially designed for kids is scheduled on the harbour for 9pm.
The eight-minute performance will use four firework barges and no doubt keep the kids amused, with its synchronized soundtrack featuring this year’s chart-stomping hits by artists such as Rhianna, JLo, Wes Carr and Jessica Maubuoy.
Around the same time, family fireworks will also be held at various spots across Sydney, including Manly Cove, Coogee Beach and Parramatta River Foreshore.
#4 Harbour of Light Parade
Shortly after the 9pm Family Fireworks, a flotilla of 56 illuminated boats will form a parade, sailing a 15-kilometer circuit around the harbour in anticipation of the final midnight countdown.
The parade will include tall ships, Sydney’s Heritage Fleet, commercial charter vessels and Sydney ferries. Passengers onboard will be front and center, and no doubt treated to some of the best views in town.
#5 Midnight Fireworks
When the clock finally strikes midnight, more than 1.5 million people are expected to gather on the Sydney Harbour foreshore – from Gladesville Bridge to the heads of the harbour.
All will be clamoring for space to catch the “world-famous” display of lights, which is expected to use approximately 11,000 shells, 25,000 shooting comets and 100,000 individual pyrotechnic effects.
There are plenty of great vantage points to take it all in, but be forewarned: the sites closest to the Sydney Harbour Bridge always attract large crowds.
Those include Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney Opera House, Embarkation Park in Potts Point, Circular Quay Promenade and Barangaroo in Millers Point, among others. If you want to watch the fireworks from these spots, arrive early as access is limited and sites will be closed once capacity is reached.
However, there are certainly other vantage points outside the CBD, which also offer great views but are infinitely more accessible and comfortable. Among them are Sydney Park in St Peter’s, North Head in Manly and Christison Park and Robertson Park in the eastern suburbs.
For a full listing of vantage points and map, go to www.sydneynewyearseve.com.
To find out more about things to do on NYE, go to CNNGo.