There are few more inspirational or recognisable images than fireworks fizzing into the night sky above Sydney Harbour Bridge on December 31st each year. But Australia’s biggest city has way more to offer than a New Year’s Eve party.
Becoming a Sydneysider provides access to world-famous and world-class cultural and sporting events, breath-taking scenery, and a vast array of hidden gems, too.
Here we highlight the sporting and cultural events on everybody’s ‘must do’ list but also some alternative options – the events that only those who live in Sydney, Australia really know about…
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve in Sydney
One of the best-known parties in the world, not least because Sydney sees New Year’s Day arrive before most other cities!
Kiritimati in the Pacific Ocean begins the celebrations with New Zealand following on, before Australia joins the party - still 11 hours before Big Ben strikes midnight in the UK.
Two spectacular firework displays off the Harbour Bridge and Opera House wow the crowds, accompanied by a stirring musical soundtrack.
The display is watched by a television audience of almost a billion. But the best place is to see it is from the water. So, find a new friend with a boat!
Or go alternative
To recreate the Insta impact of NYE, try Vivid Sydney in May/June, which sees buildings across the city become the canvas for creative artists using lasers and lights. Lasting for 23 days the festival fuses technology, art and innovation - with spectacular results
Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade
One of the largest LGBTQ+ festivals in the world, Mardi Gras draws hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of Sydney.
A colourful, heady celebration of love and diversity, the evening sees thousands of marchers and hundreds of floats take part in the opening parade – culminating in a concert and party which lasts long into the night.
Sydney has also been chosen to host World Gay Pride in 2023, running from 17 February to 5 March.
Or go alternative:
Mardi Gras arrives only once year but at the Imperial Hotel in Paddington the party never stops.
This neighbourhood pub, known as the Impy by locals, was the location for legendary Aussie film The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
It offers Drag’n’Dine experiences most day of the week and there are plenty of other bars to explore nearby.
Live music in Sydney
Watch a production at Sydney Opera House
The legendary Opera House, built on the harbour in 1973 has become the symbol of Sydney.
Home to Opera Australia and Sydney Symphony it houses several performance spaces, all with a special atmosphere. The views from the concourse are so spectacular that even the intervals feel part of the show!
Or go alternative:
For an alternative experience, head for the Sydney Fringe festival in September. It features more than 450 events across 70 venues and is billed as ‘Sydney stories told by Sydney voices’. What better way to get to know your new home city?
Sydney sporting events
Take in an international sporting event
Watching an international cricket match at the legendary Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) is hard to beat – especially if the opponents happen to be deadly rivals England in a battle for ‘the Ashes’! Stadium Australia, which hosted the Olympics in 2000, these days stages international rugby union and soccer games, too.
Or go alternative…
No need to wait for an international fixture when you live in Sydney, there’s top quality sporting action all the time. So, pick a team, buy the colours and get cheering!
Aussie Rules is a must – a crazy mix of rugby, Gaelic football and handball played on a pitch twice the size of a soccer field. Sydney Swans are you home team.
The newly re-built Allianz Arena due to be completed late in 2022 will be home to the Roosters (rugby league), Waratahs (rugby union) and Sydney FC (soccer).
Don’t miss out on surfing, too. Sydney Surf Pro on Manly beach is part of the World Surfing League.
National parks in Sydney
The Royal National Park in Sydney
It’s not just the water which inspires Sydneysiders. The Royal National park features 26k of parkland, including coastline walks, secluded beaches and classic rock formations. Perfect for trekking, cycling and walking and a great way to blow off steam while working in Sydney. You can even spot whales between May to November.
Or go alternative…
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park contains more than 1500 pieces of Aboriginal rock art and helps bring Sydney’s indigenous past to life.
The island of Me-Mel, known to many Sydneysiders as ‘Goat Island’ has recently been handed back to its traditional First Nation owners. With a history that goes back 10,000 years it expected to open to the public in 2026.
You can find out more about the must haves of moving to Sydney in our destination full of tips to get you started.Read our Sydney destination guide now