Ready to put this year in the rear-view mirror? Don’t worry, so are we. And since we’re quite happy to see this difficult year disappear, it feels only fitting to say farewell in style. It also just so happens that the newly announced easing of restrictions in hospitality venues around NSW will make these end of year celebrations a little, dare we say it—normal—for all involved. Yep, you can actually stand with that glass of champagne if you’re outside now—it’s a whole new world!
And because there’s a bunch of great and different ways you can ring in the new year across Sydney, we’ve got all the bases covered from places to eat to your stomach’s content, watch a show, bring the family, and take full advantage of bottomless drinks packages. Out east, up north, in the inner west or at the heart of the harbour, we’ve got all the best options to end 2020 in style. We’ll also give you options for both wallet-friendly events and some which can let you be as baller as you want.
So, fill up your glass and start the countdown, here’s our list of best places to spend NYE in Sydney this year.
The Sunshine Inn
If there are two things the legends at The Sunshine Inn and DD’s know how to do, it’s degustations and showing you a bloody great time. Lucky for us, that’s precisely what they’re offering for your new year’s celebration. To coincide with a year which allowed us to explore our own backyard in lieu of suspended international travel, the Redfern bar is offering a six-course degustation exploring produce and native Australian flavours from around the country. And best of all, they’ll be pairing each course with wines from regions in those states.
You can expect Tassie Olives in an olive tapenade with whipped pepper berry butter and figs, WA portobello carpaccio with truffle oil, pine nuts, parmesan and saltbush, or NSW beetroot sashimi with sesame crust, miso cream, puffed rice and finger lime caviar. The night runs from 7pm until late at $170 per person–you can grab yourself a ticket here.
Just across the bridge and past the fireworks, The Botanist is putting on a night to remember for New Year’s Eve. The Kirribilli bar and restaurant is throwing a huge jazz-inspired night of celebration with a banquet feast and a free flow of drinks to match. Feel free to dress fancy for this one and get ready for a sit-down dinner curated by head chef Scott Mills, serving up dishes like lamb neck croquettes, pan-fried barramundi and fresh Pambula oysters. $159 per person includes dinner, a three-hour drink package, a full night of jazz and, of course, a glass of champagne at midnight. Make a group reservation here.
If you’re not overly bothered about fireworks, then maybe you prefer a flavour explosion in your mouth as you make your way through a carefully curated degustation from one of our absolute favourites, Long Chim. The CBD Thai restaurant isn’t mucking around either, with a massive 14-course degustation showcasing all of their best dishes. Throwdown a glass of champagne on arrival, before strapping in for a seemingly endless stream of dishes like red snapper fish cakes, choo chee whole lobster and soft-shell crab. The degustation is on offer for $129 per person, you can book a table right here.
Chi By Lotus
Despite the unprecedented and generally terrible year we’ve just had, a delightfully surprising amount of new venues have been sneakily popping up around Sydney. One such venue is Barangaroo’s Chi By Lotus—a restaurant inspired by the vibrant night markets found on Beijing’s Ghost Street. Booking yourself in for NYE at this brand-new venue overlooking Darling Harbour might be the best possible way to let the new kid on the block introduce themselves. And they’re doing it in style, with a ten-course share menu alongside two hours of free-flowing wine and beer.
Dishes like steamed half shell scallops with garlic, chilli and seablite, and chi focaccia with Asian spices and crispy shallots are sure to make the last night of 2020 a deliciously indulgent one. Get in for sittings of 5pm, 7pm or 9.30 pm, with the venue kicking on until 1am—reserve a seat here, for $148 per person.
North Bondi Fish
We all know that Sydney Harbour is the prime view for NYE, but if that’s not your jam, then maybe the world-famous Bondi Beach is a pretty good backup. To ring in 2021 just a few feet away from the hallowed sand, North Bondi Fish is our recommendation. For $149 per person, head chef James Green has put together a special four-course shared dinner menu to help you and your friends kick off the new year with some flare. There’s even a $50 set menu for the kids. With a glass of champagne on arrival, DJs playing music until late and Bondi beach in sight, this might be one of the best spots to be for NYE. Book a spot for yourself here.
If music and entertainment is the way you want to enter 2021, then this is the option for you. Marrickville live music royalty, Lazy Bones Lounge Restaurant and Bar, is putting on a show that might make you forget the past year altogether. For $189 per person, head upstairs for a big three-course meal and more musical entertainment than you’d know what to do with. From 9 - 12pm, you’ll be treated to Suite Az, a seven-piece band playing soul, R&B, hip-hop and reggae tunes, followed by a late-night band playing until 2am. Yep, this one’s going until late and well into the morning so grab a ticket here.
OK, this one is definitely as far as we can go in terms of a big baller option. But with good reason, it’s one of this country’s best restaurants after all, and it’s right on the water with a full view of the fireworks. Yep, if you want to truly treat yo’self this NYE, then Aria is the place to do it. The famed restaurant’s executive chef, Joel Bickford, has curated a one-of-a-kind six-course tasting menu, to go alongside a glass of champagne on arrival, a selection of premium wines to match and a take-home gift pack. It’s not an exaggeration to say you can walk away from a night at Aria and feel like you’ve just had the best meal of your life. The entire thing costs $1,450 per person, book your spot right here.
When we’re looking for something a little bit different than the rest, and some outstanding entertainment, we know we can always turn to our good friends at The Imperial. Sydney’s spiritual home of all things drag is putting on exactly the kind of NYE celebrations you’d expect them to. Best of all, the Erskineville institution is offering an experience to meet every budget.
For $30, you get a general admission ticket to one of two seating times for 5pm or 11pm, a cocktail on arrival and a drag show. For $85, you’ll cop dinner and a show, with a cocktail on arrival, a three-course meal from Priscilla’s Restaurant and the brand new ‘Glitz and Glam’ theatre show.
A $200 ticket takes you to Carlotta’s lounge with a bottomless drinks package, a selection of canapes and some of Sydney’s best drag hosts and entertainers right until the midnight countdown. And finally, $250 lets you spend the first half of the evening, from 5 – 10pm, on the rooftop with a DJ and drag hosts, before you head down to the basement for a few dazzling drag shows until late. It also includes a five-hour drinks package, canapes, unlimited pizzas and champagne on arrival. Whatever you prefer, you can find tickets on their website.
If it’s super chill vibes and delicious margaritas you’re after, look no further than SoCal. The Neutral Bay Cali beach-inspired bar and eatery is putting on a night of food and drink that only they know how to do. How does a Tommy’s margarita on arrival, and a two-hour bottomless drinks package of rosé, rosé sangria, or craft beer sound? To fill you up, SoCal is also putting on a seasonal feast including dishes like tacos, mini spatchcock chicken, truffle mushroom and chickpea fritters, and a BBQ meat board. Guacamole to munch on and a glass of G.H. Mumm champagne at midnight sounds like a pretty cruisy way to head into the new year. Book your spot, at $89 per person, here.
Glass Island Harbour Cruise
Seeing the fireworks from Sydney Harbour’s waters is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This option is definitely on the more expensive side, but that’s how it goes if you’re after that ridiculous view. For $550 per person, Sydney’s best floating dancefloor, Glass Island, is offering you a prime spot for the midnight fireworks right on the water, a three-hour unlimited beverage package, canapes, and a gourmet food station. They’ve only got tickets left for larger groups, so round up your mates and enter 2021 in a big way. Grab your table here.
And for when you're feeling it all the next day—sort out that hangover with Sydney's best bacon and egg rolls.
Image credit: Getty Images, Maclay Heriot, The Botanist, Alana Dimou, North Bondi Fish, Aria, SoCal, Glass Island