Your guide to enjoying New Year’s Eve 2021 across Australia’s capitals

While not quite the “hot summer” many Australians had hoped for, there is no reason to completely abandon plans to call into the new year in style.

Whether you’re looking for fireworks or a more socially distant soiree, here’s below what’s happening on New Year’s Eve in Australia.

Keep reading to find out what each state capital has in store (all times locally), or skip to see what’s happening in your capital:

Sydney

Red fireworks explode from Sydney Harbor Bridge, with orange-yellow fireworks going off over the Opera House and green on the right
Sydney residents hoping to catch a glimpse of the fireworks will have to pre-order at most viewpoints.(AAP: Brendan Esposito)

Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebration continues despite rising COVID-19 case numbers across the state, but the tradition of camping out at the harbor to get a front row seat is off the cards.

If you want to see the six tons of fireworks explode into the sky at 9pm and midnight, you have had to pre-order at most vantage points.

Many charge admission, but popular areas such as the Blues Point Reserve, Giba Park Pyrmont, Lavender Bay and Observatory Hill offer free tickets.

In previous years, almost everywhere was sold out, but this year it seems that there has been a reluctance to venture out, with many tickets still available.

If you do not have a reservation at a vantage point or a reservation at a venue, you will be asked not to travel into the CBD, where a strong police presence on the ground and at the port is expected.

New South Wales Police Minister Paul Toole has asked people to celebrate sensibly.

“It’s been a tough year. We know people want to celebrate that time with their family and friends … but do it in a sensible way,” he said.

“We want people to be safe. We still want people to enjoy those events.”

In western Sydney, Parramatta is setting off fireworks at 21:00 and at midnight, but instead of taking place in one place as in previous years, it will now be spread in five places.

People can buy a ticket to enjoy a picnic in Dundas, Ermington, North Parramatta, Northmead and Old Toongabbie.

Fireworks are also planned in many regional areas of the state, including Newcastle, Wollongong and Dubbo.

However, the Shoalhaven Heads in the Illawarra region have canceled their viewing due to concerns over 90 endangered breeding bird birds.

Melbourne

Fireworks explode over several buildings in Melbourne's CBD.  Thousands of people stand along a bridge.
All free tickets to the Melbourne Fireworks are sold out, but there are still tickets for New Year’s street parties.(AAP: James Ross)

Melbourne welcomes its fireworks back this year, but you will not be able to wander into the city to see the shows.

In contrast to the usual roof terraces, the fireworks are held across four, private “Celebration Zones” in an attempt to reduce crowds and keep track of all participants.

All 42,000 registered free tickets are already sold out.

But if you’ve missed the fireworks, tickets are still on sale for New Year’s street parties, which continue again after a successful first race last year.

Regionally, some major fireworks events will be held in Bendigo, Geelong, Paynesville, Mildura, Phillip Island, Shepparton and Warrnambool.

Despite rising COVID-19 case numbers in Victoria, the state government said authorities were asking people to take a sensible approach to New Year celebrations to protect themselves.

Health Minister Martin Foley said it would be key to follow rules that were in place, such as wearing masks indoors and social distancing.

He also encouraged people to hold New Year’s parties outside or with full ventilation if they were indoors.

People have been asked to take a quick antigen test as an additional screening measure, or get a PCR test and stay home if they have even the slightest symptoms.

Brisbane

fireworks for a bonfire in Brisbane.
Story Bridge in Brisbane will be one of many places to call into the new year in Queensland.(AAP: GlennHunt)

As usual, Queensland’s biggest New Year’s Eve events will take place in Brisbane and will be centered around the Brisbane River.

South Bank Parklands will be full of dining and festivities, while Fortitude Valley will host countless parties well into the night.

The city’s official celebrations, the Lord Mayor’s New Year’s fireworks, light up again after a year’s break and will light up the river at 8.30pm and again at midnight.

There will be food trucks around the South Bank and the best places to see the fireworks will be Clem Jones Promenade, Cultural Forecourt, Riverside Green and River Quay Green.

Other major fireworks shows around the state will be at Kings Beach at Caloundra, Mooloolaba and the Gold Coast, where Broadbeach will host two shows at Kurrawa Pratten Park.

In Cairns, the Esplanade will be the center of action, with fireworks at. 20.30 and at midnight.

In Townsville, there will be fireworks shows at The Strand (8pm and midnight) and the city’s fireworks can be seen from Magnetic Island.

There is also a family-friendly evening at Riverway Stadium with a family movie and fireworks at. 20.00.

Venues will require those who enter to show proof that they are double-grown, and people will have to use the Check In Queensland app.

Masks must be worn on public transport and taxis and rideshares. Hospitality staff are required to wear them, while it is recommended that guests do so while moving around.

You do not have to wear masks outdoors, but it would be wise to consider one in crowded surroundings.

It’s probably not COVID-safe to toot to many strangers either.

Perth

Large orange fireworks explode in the sky over Mindarie Marina in the north of Perth.
Fireworks will go off in the city center and parts of Fremantle.(ABC News: Rebecca Carmody)

Western Australians want to be out and about, but the festivities have been reduced to a minimum.

Fireworks will go off in fewer places this year: The city center and parts of Fremantle, south of Perth, will light up around midnight.

Music events considered “high-risk” by the Western Australian government have been scrapped and thousands are now left looking for another way to call in the new year.

Restrictions are in place for the Perth and Peel regions, which make up around 80 per cent of Western Australia’s population.

Bars and restaurants will be open, but anyone served food or drink must sit and dancing is prohibited.

Masks are required in all indoor public environments, and those celebrating outdoors are still encouraged to wear a mask.

Some people may decide to have a quiet night and celebrate New Year’s Day instead of where the Perth Cup is allowed to continue.

Adelaide

SA NEW FIREWORKS
Fireworks have been canceled at Adelaide’s beaches, but Rymill Park in the CBD will host an event.(ABC News: Isabel Dayman)

Restrictions on home collections, density limits and dancing were supposed to be lifted on December 28, instead they have been tightened but that does not prevent some events from continuing.

Up to 5,000 people will gather in Rymill Park in Adelaide’s CBD for this year’s Light Up ‘New Year’s Eve event, which will be held instead of the usual Elder Park fireworks.

While dancing is out of the cards, the event will feature live music, followed by fireworks at 6 p.m. 9.30pm and at midnight.

Beach fireworks in Glenelg, Brighton and Semaphore have been canceled due to COVID-19, but regional pyrotechnic exhibitions in Victor Harbor, Robe, Port Lincoln and Wallaroo are expected to continue.

A planned street party on the popular West-end strip Peel Street has been screwed down, but a street party at The Lion Hotel in North Adelaide is expected to continue with a small fireworks display.

Hobart

Light on the Hobart waterfront on New Year's Eve
The annual Taste of Summer food and wine festival returns to Princes Wharf 1 this year.(Delivered by: Natasha Mulhall)

In Hobart, the celebrations will largely be around the waterfront for the annual Taste of Summer food and wine festival at Princes Wharf 1.

The event was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has returned this year as a ticket event with 40 live acts.

Two fireworks will also light up in the evening in Hobart, with a viewing at. 9.30pm before the main event at midnight.

Hobart City Council will also livestream the fireworks on its Facebook page.

In the north of the state, Launceston’s Royal Park will host the Beerfest event, which calls itself Tasmania’s “ultimate summer extravaganza” that promises local street food, beer, wine and comedy.

A family fun day session will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., before the transition to the New Year’s Eve session from 5:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Both sessions are ticketed in accordance with Tasmania’s COVID-19 event guidelines.

Canberra

Skyfire fireworks over Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra - March 16, 2013
Fireworks are returning to the country’s capital this year.(ABC News: Penny McLintock)

Canberra will host two fireworks shows over Lake Burley Griffin to ring in 2022 after the cloud show was scrapped for the past two years.

There will be fireworks both at. 21.00 and at midnight – with the light show launched from the lake’s eastern, western and central basins.

Canberrans have been invited to picnic along the shores of the lake or buy food from local hospitality sites and food trucks.

While masks are not currently mandatory outdoors in ACT, participants are encouraged to wear masks while not eating or drinking, and to social distance where possible.

To further encourage social distancing, there will not be a main stage for performances.

Instead, there will be itinerant artists – including singers and circus troupes – on their way around the shores of the lake.

While the Commonwealth and Kings Avenue bridges as well as Parkes Way remain open to traffic, limits of 40 kilometers per hour will be imposed from 6 p.m. 17.45 on 31 December to kl. 12.30 on 1 January.

Darwin

Thousands of people at a Darwin NYE event.
People will have to book tickets for Darwin’s main event, but masks will not be mandatory.(ABC News: Nicholas Hynes)

In the Northern Territory, there are currently no COVID-19 restrictions for partygoers who would like to call in the new year, although authorities have highlighted the possibility of new rules in the coming days.

The largest annual New Year’s Eve event in the area is held at Darwin Waterfront, starring Amy Shark and The Veronicas and two fireworks shows planned.

This family-friendly event is ticketed and proof of purchase is required at the entrance.

And even though participants must check in, they do not have to wear masks or be fully vaccinated to gain access.

Darwin’s party strip, Mitchell Street, is also expected to be busy Friday night with pubs and clubs demanding that people check in and ask people to keep 1.5m distance to groups they do not know.

In the Northern Territory, dance floors will be open and all pubs and clubs must have a COVID-19 management plan to open.

Parties, pubs and clubs in Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek – and everywhere in between – also have the green light to function normally this Friday night, following the lifting of a mask mandate and lockout in Tennant Creek.

This means that there is no lockout or mask mandate anywhere in the Northern Territory.

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