New Year’s Eve Down Under

I live in Canada.  In most parts of Canada, our winters are cold and snowy, and our winter takes place at the same time as one of the biggest party nights of the year – New Year’s Eve.  In most Canadian cities, New Year’s Eve celebrations take place outside, no matter what the temperature is.  They lure you to the festivities with musicians and fireworks, and a big enough crowd that you can all huddle together and feed off each other’s body heat to survive the night.  

I have experienced one New Year’s Eve outside in Toronto.  My friends and I took the train to Toronto and headed to Nathan Phillips Square.  We wore so many layers we looked like puffy marshmallows.  We heard some music, and we were forced to dance and jump around to keep ourselves warm.  It was fun, but something I have only done once.

Then, there was one fabulous year I was lucky enough to be in Sydney, Australia during New Year’s Eve.  The entire experience was pretty much the opposite of how this day is celebrated at home.  It was blazing hot, so it didn’t feel like December 31st.  As you would expect, we wanted to celebrate at the Sydney Harbour and see the amazing fireworks display that we have watched on TV so often at home.

In Sydney, if you want to go to the harbour for New Year’s Eve, you better get there early.  We arrived at 10:00am, and luckily some friends had already been there to get us a prime spot.  You must go through security to get into the area and there are SO MANY people!  Looking around us, it was just a sea of people.  Why were we there?  There were no bands to entertain us all day, no activities planned by the organizers.  People just go there and hang out with their friends for an entire day, sitting on concrete, waiting to see fireworks.  That’s all you need in Sydney.

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This photo was taken at 3:19pm.  Still a few spots left on the steps!

If you are planning on spending New Year’s Eve here, bring sun protection.  It is hot, and as you can see, on this particular year, there was not a cloud in the sky.  You are there all day.  You can see umbrellas and sun hats in the picture above.  Those are very necessary!

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Jam-packed at 6:31pm

So, we sat on blankets, we ate snacks, and chatted all day long, and we had a great time.  At 9pm, they do a fireworks show for the kids, and then you have 3 more hours to get excited for the real thing.  The fireworks themselves were spectacular.  I’m not a person who particularly likes fireworks.  I find them a bit bizarre, but that is a tangent I won’t go into here.  In Sydney, there are fireworks in every direction.  They are behind the Opera House, on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and off of the buildings all around the harbour.  You don’t know where you should look, but everywhere is amazing.  It was the longest fireworks display I have ever seen, which made the 14 hour wait more satisfying!

It was a once in a lifetime experience.  I’ll be honest, it was strange, but quite nice to spend New Years Eve somewhere hot.  So, if you find yourself in Sydney for New Year’s Eve in the future, grab some friends and head to the harbour (early) for a memorable day of hanging out with about a million other people.  You won’t forget it.

Whatever you are doing tonight, Happy New Year!  I hope 2016 is a good one for you!

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