This is a live blog of everything Sydney Spectaculars relating to COVID-19. Here are the headlines though:

  • Vivid Sydney 2020 has been cancelled.
  • Handa Opera On The Harbour 2020 – ‘La Traviata’ has been cancelled.
  • Australian Government has banned non-essential outdoors events of 500 people or more in attendance in a stationary position.
  • Australian Government has banned indoor events of 100 people or more in attendance in a stationary position.
  • Darling Harbour’s Saturday Night Fireworks have been cancelled until further notice.
  • The Australian Government has announced an 1 person per 4 square metres arrangement for non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people until further notice.
  • (UPDATED 24 MARCH 11PM AEDT) The Australian Government has announced new restrictions that affect events.
  • The Australian Government has released 2 ‘Coronavirus Australia’ apps & a WhatsApp channel for COVID-19
  • Richard Wilkins, (co-)host of ‘Sydney New Year’s Eve (NYE)’ 1996 to 2005 television broadcasts tested negative for COVID-19 on the 1st of April after being tested positive at least 3 times since the 15th of March.
  • Earth Hour recommends going digital instead of to ‘on-ground events’.
  • Venue closures & restrictions for Australian Earth Hour events
  • Sydney Town Hall lit red for ANZAC Day 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions
  • DIY Vivid Australia unofficially replaces Vivid Sydney from May 22 to June 5.
  • On the 13th & 14th of August, the New South Wales Tourism Minister responded to media queries about whether Sydney NYE2020 should go ahead due to COVID-19. He responded that he wants it to go ahead in some form but it will not be “traditional”.
  • On the 16th of August, Lord Mayor Clover Moore tells The Sydney Morning Herald that cancellation of Sydney NYE2020 is “a real possibility”.
  • In the 18th of August, Vivid Sydney was announced to be held in August 2021 “in a COVID-safe manner”.
  • On the 19th of August, the Sydney NYE website was updated to include a ‘COVID-19 update’.
  • At the 24th of August City Of Sydney Council Meeting, Councillor Christine Forster put forward 3 questions on notice regarding Sydney NYE2020. The response from the City Of Sydney’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to all 3 questions was “City staff have been meeting with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Events Coordination Group. The matter has not been resolved to date”
  • On the 2nd of September, debate about the holding of Sydney NYE2020 brew within the NSW Government, who are not the event’s official organisers. However, it has lead to the City Of Sydney (the event’s official organiser)’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, sought and urgent meeting with the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian.
  • On the 17th of September, the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, asks the public to assume the ‘maximum 20 people’ order will be still in place for house New Year’s Eve parties.
  • On the 18th of September, the City Of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore says she is “opposed” to fireworks for Sydney NYE2020 but the NSW Treasurer says the  NSW Government is “very, very keen” for fireworks
  • On the 24th of September, the City Of Sydney handed over the Sydney NYE2020 edition to the NSW Government.
  • On the 13th of October, the NSW Government announced that from October 16 up to 500 people can attend outdoor seated music performances & rehearsals for venues complying with the 4 square metre rule, making a Sydney NYE concert more likely to be held.
  • On the 14th of October, it was announced Vivid Sydney will be held between the 6th & 28th of August 2021 & that Vivid Light expressions of interest are now open. The Vivid Light expressions of interest close on Monday 23rd of November 2020.
  • On the 21st of October, Technical Direction Company told InAVate that “As yet, we haven’t been informed if that (Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon NYE Projections) is going ahead”

If you have any other COVID-19 related questions, contact us via this contact form (Please do not send queries regarding medical advice. We are not a formal medical expert. You can find medical/interstate travel information below. For international travel advice, contact your national government. However, Australian travel restrictions are linked below):

Medical Information: World Health Organization

Travel Into Australia: Australian Department Of Home Affairs



Speaking to InAVate, Geraldine Shine, Brand Manager, Technical Direction Company said:

Sydney NYE celebrations will go ahead.

It has not been made public as to what form this will take in comparison with previous years.

Technical Direction Company won a tender to provide projections on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons for the next 4 years for Sydney NYE.

As yet, we haven’t been informed if that is going ahead.

We are always ready to come up with new ways to approach entertainment but everything seems to be last minute due to the uncertainty around COVID-19.

Sydney Spectaculars sought comment from the NSW Government but they declined to comment.

Sydney Spectaculars believe Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projections should not be used on the night to prevent crowds gathering at the sight of the colourful all-night long (8pm to 2am) Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projections.



The largest celebration of light, music and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere –Vivid Sydney – will return from 6 to 28 August 2021.

Kicking off planning for next year’s event, expressions of interest for the Vivid Light program are now open with artists and creatives invited to take part.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the event would support the recovery of the visitor economy and creative arts sector in a COVID-safe way.

“It’s exciting to get planning underway for Vivid Sydney 2021 so we can deliver another world-class showcase of creativity and innovation here in the Harbour City,” Minister Ayres said.

“We hope that Sydneysiders, residents of NSW and visitors from around the country will start planning now and book accommodation, tours and attractions to make the most of their Vivid Sydney 2021 experience”

“Vivid Sydney also supports the NSW Government’s new 24-Hour Economy Strategy which will help Sydney realise its potential as a thriving global city, and create more employment opportunities in the arts, entertainment, cultural and hospitality sectors.”

Vivid Sydney was established in 2009 and is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW.

The Vivid Sydney Light Walk features dozens of light installations and large-scale projections to create a magical, interactive gallery around Sydney Harbour.

Artists, designers, creatives, architects and engineers can submit their ideas, designs and concepts to be involved in the 2021 Light Walk by Monday 23 November.

“I can’t wait to see the creativity that comes forth – we are all hungry for inspiration, whimsy, innovation and fun, which is exactly what Vivid Sydney is all about,” Minister Ayres said.

Further details about Vivid Sydney 2021 will be shared in due course. To complete an expression of interest go to

Media Release: Vivid Sydney



The new restrictions will allow hospitality venues with outdoor areas and outdoor seated music performances to increase capacity in a COVID Safe way.

The eased restrictions will start from Friday 16 October 2020. Under the new rules:

  • hospitality venues can allow one person for every two square metres for outdoor areas. This previously was one person per four square metres
  • up to 500 people can attend outdoor seated music performances and rehearsals for venues complying with the four square metre rule. This previously was a total of 20 people.

All businesses and venues must use electronic methods such as QR codes to record and keep contact details.

Restaurants, cafes and bars that have outdoor seating sections will be able to increase capacity in a COVID Safe way with the relaxed 2 square metre rule.

Venues and organisers of outdoor music performances and rehearsals must have a COVID Safety Plan in place.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state is focused on keeping COVID-19 under control & ensuring our economy keeps going.

“Our aim is to provide as many opportunities as we can for businesses and organisations to succeed. For that strategy to be successful, we need everyone to follow their COVID-19 Safety Plan,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Learn more and get ready for a COVID Safe summer.

Media Release: NSW Government


With this news, a Sydney NYE concert held by the ABC, as in recent years, is more likely to be held, though with more limited capacity.

Adding to our speculation, the Sydney Opera House announced a day later that they will re-open on the 29th of October. Their restaurants reopened on 10 September.



According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a smaller version of Sydney New Year’s Eve (NYE) will still go ahead after the City Of Sydney struck an agreement handing responsibility for the event to the New South Wales (NSW) Government.

City Of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, agreed to the government’s proposal for it to take “temporary custodianship” of this year’s edition during a meeting with NSW Government Tourism Minister, Stuart Ayres, this afternoon. The Lord Mayor said in a statement:

He has assured me that the Government will take full responsibility for the preparation and funding for the fireworks & crowd management, safety, traffic and transport & is prepared to cancel the event if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases. There will be restrictions on travel & public gathering which will necessitate police presence on transport routes, around the city & on foreshore areas with fines for non-social distancing compliance.We encourage people to watch this year’s display from the COVID-safety of their homes

The NSW Government Tourism Minister said to The Sydney Morning Herald that he was confident some in-person events could accompany the fireworks display. He said Transport For NSW & NSW Police were willing to run their regular NYE operations and it would be likely that events could occur in restaurants & venues in the central business district with restrictions on people in public places, saying to the newspaper:

We know we will be actively discouraging people from coming to the city who are not planning to be here for ticketed or specialised events but we will work with Health & we will work with the Council to make sure we manage that & provide it as a COVID-safe event

City Of Sydney Councillor, Linda Scott, also wrote an opinion piece for the newspaper titled ‘Don’t turn NYE fireworks into a private event, Premier’ earlier that day at 3:45pm.



According to News Corporation Australia Newswire, City Of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she was concerned 1 million people around Sydney Harbour would pose a major health risk given the unpredictability of COVID-19.

The Lord Mayor said Sydneysiders should be watching the display in the comfort of their own home or at their local pub or club, where it is easier to maintain COVID-19 safe practices.

Ms Moore said the City had considered the difficulties of inviting 1 million people into the city because they’d “likely have to travel on public transport to get here”.

She said she has suggested creating a compilation of the previous 16 years’ (since she has been Lord Mayor) fireworks displays & bringing them to the comfort of people’s homes.

The historic vision would then be coupled with a presentation from Australian artists & performers.

Ms Moore argued that if there were fireworks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge people would still turn up despite being told to stay home. She may be right – as we think it could happen too – read our opinion piece on this issue for more information.

She also said:

It would be very difficult to stop (the spread). We hope that we have outdoor dining & even indoor dining, slightly more liberal than what we have now, by New Year’s Eve.  I’m opposed to doing it (fireworks) because we couldn’t handle another lockdown in Sydney. If we have an event (like this) it could cause a super spread since everyone has come together. We cannot manage huge crowds. I don’t want that on New Year’s Eve.

However, New South Wales (NSW) Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, argued while it might be a difficult task, the NSW Government “does difficult well” and he accepted the Lord Mayor’s views & said the NSW Government faces a balancing act between acknowledging the COVID-19 concerns and opening the Sydney CBD economy.

He also said:

This pandemic is difficult and we’re beating the virus. I want to continue to work with the Lord Mayor. We believe we should have the fireworks not just for the economic benefit, but for the hope that it gives our citizens. Our city is open for business and that’s not just a beacon of hope for people in our city, but globally. I can tell you the government is very, very keen to have the fireworks. We want to demonstrate to the world that we are open.

9 News also reported that the Lord Mayor also wanted a dance performance at Midnight and that the NSW Government, if it were to hold it themselves would cancel the 9pm Family Fireworks and hold a shortened Midnight Fireworks. However, all vantage points would have to be controlled, free and ticketed.



According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian said the public should prepare for New Year’s Eve celebrations to be held under the existing social distancing restrictions. She said:

My expectation is that everybody plan ahead based on the existing health orders. We can’t give any commitment of guarantee beyond that. I would ask everybody to assume the current health orders will be in place. That’s the worst-case scenario.



Just after Midnight (how ironic), according to The Sydney Morning Herald, New South Wales (NSW) Deputy Premier John Barilaro believes the cancellation of Sydney’s famous New Year’s Eve celebrations is inevitable saying:

If the regions have to lose big tourism events like this (Tamworth Country Music Festival), then there is no option but to cancel the big drawcard events in Sydney and the most obvious is the New Year’s Eve fireworks

The Deputy Premier is from The Nationals, a political party representing regional and rural areas. It seems the Tamworth Country Music Festival, held in January each year, was cancelled recently sparking his comments today.

Though, a senior government source close to the New South Wales Police Minister David Elliott also told The Sydney Morning Herald that he was concerned about managing crowds in Sydney on New Year’s Eve, given it would be “impossible” to keep people away.

While the City Of Sydney is responsible for the fireworks, the source said NSW Police had already indicated that it would not be feasible to have thousands of people converging on the harbour.

While the Tamworth Country Music Festival has 40,000 annual visitors, according to the NSW Deputy Premier, Sydney Spectaculars believes Sydney NYE2020 would receive about or less than 250,000 visitors, which is 75% down the current attendance rate of 1 million. The decrease is due to the international travel ban (except for international students) as well as NSW & Federal COVID-19 restrictions.

The senior government source also said to The Herald:

I think what we will be told this year is to have small gatherings at home for Christmas and New Year
NSW Tourism Minister, Stuart Ayres, then went on radio station 2GB’s Drive With Jim Wilson at 3:12pm:
Later that day at around 6pm, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the City Of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has sought an urgent meeting with the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian to discuss Sydney NYE2020’s fate.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, when asked about the celebration, Ms Berejiklian said it would have to be approached differently, but she would like to see the event go ahead in a COVID-safe way. Big crowds were out of the question, and most people might be watching the fireworks from home, she said.

The Herald also reported sources with knowledge of a briefing on the fireworks event earlier this week said police, paramedics, transport agencies and council’s staff were of the view that the festivities could not safely go ahead.

The newspaper/website also reported that City Of Sydney Councillor Craig Chung said a decision should be made this week as preparations, including manufacturing fireworks and creating traffic management plans, took months. He said to The Herald:

My view is that Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks belong not just to the City of Sydney but to Sydney and Australia as a whole. It needs to be a joint decision we all make together

Councillor Chung also told The Herald decisions about Sydney Christmas & New Year’s Eve would likely inform what happened for Australia Day In Sydney in late January.

24TH OF AUGUST 2020:

Sydney NYE2020 Event Holding “Has Not Been Resolved To Date” Says City Of Sydney CEO

Today, a City Of Sydney Council Meeting was held where Councillor Christine Forster put forward 3 questions on notice regarding Sydney NYE2020. These questions were:

  1. What discussions have City staff had with the NSW Government regarding the 2020 New Year’s Eve celebrations in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic?

  2. What was the outcome of any discussions that have taken place?

  3. When will the City of Sydney make a final call as to whether celebrations, including any firework displays, will go ahead on New Year’s Eve?

The response received from the Chief Executive Officer was:

City staff have been meeting with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Events Coordination Group. The matter has not been resolved to date.

19TH OF AUGUST 2020:

Sydney NYE Website Updated To Include A ‘COVID-19 Update’

The Sydney NYE website has been updated to include a ‘COVID-19 Update’. It does not reveal any new information:

Image: City Of Sydney

However, despite this website update in regards to the 2020 edition, the top of the website still contains the annual message after each edition (but, in this case, the 2019 edition):

You’re viewing the 2019 website. Sign up for our updates and be the first to know when we’re ready for 2020.

This could be implying they are not ready for the 2020 edition. Usually this message disappears in September in recent years. However, it could have been reworded as they are now, technically, showing a 2020 edition website.

18TH OF AUGUST 2020:

Vivid Sydney To Return In August 2021

Vivid Sydney will (hopefully) return in August 2021:

It will be held in a COVID-safe manner.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said Vivid Sydney was an important cultural, social and economic beacon for NSW.  He also said:

Major events will play a critical role in stimulating the visitor economy and NSW’s broader COVID-19 recovery strategy. We’re cautiously optimistic that with a slight delay to regular scheduling, Vivid Sydney will be able to proceed as the bright, dynamic event we all know and love in August next year. There’s no doubt that all future events will need to make adjustments to be COVID-safe in line with NSW Health advice and reflect the changes we are experiencing in
day-to-day life. Vivid Sydney has always celebrated and explored innovation and creativity, but more importantly brought joy to people who visit in person or who follow the media and social media coverage. We look forward to reigniting that excitement and passion within the artistic community and our supporters, and creating tangible opportunities for the tourism industry by driving visitors to Sydney and NSW in a safe way.

Further details about Vivid Sydney 2021 will be shared later in 2020.

Sydney Spectaculars have contacted Destination New South Wales as to how it will be held “in a COVID-safe manner”.

16TH OF AUGUST 2020:

Lord Mayor Clover Moore Says Sydney NYE2020 Cancellation “A Real Possibility”

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City Of Sydney was working with the New South Wales (NSW) State Government to assess the impact of COVID-19 on major events, including Sydney Christmas & Sydney NYE, both current Sydney Spectaculars. She also said:

These events are subject to the NSW Government’s public health orders, which are continuously amended to address the local impact of the pandemic. Ultimately, if NSW Health and police can’t be certain that the event can be held safely, it won’t go ahead. It would be incredibly sad if Sydney New Year’s Eve cannot go ahead, but that is a real possibility we’re facing. The community’s health and safety is paramount and it may not be responsible to encourage large crowds to our foreshore

The biggest risk to crowds would after the Midnight Fireworks when everyone is leaving at the same time (unlike arriving, when it is spread throughout the day). The event itself, between 7pm & Midnight, would be a risk with large crowds.

If cancelled, this would be the 1st time since 1988 that Sydney NYE has been cancelled. In 1988, the event was cancelled after a mass murder in The Rocks on NYE1986 after growing incidents of violence since the event’s inception on NYE1976. The event returned on NYE1989 with the introduction of the 9pm Family Fireworks. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was not used for NYE until NYE1990 & the Opera House has only been used for NYE fireworks since NYE2013 as part of their Decade Of Renewal. It also featured in the NYE1999/Millennium edition. The Midnight Fireworks went on a 10-year hiatus since NYE1986 returning on NYE1996 as a brief fireworks show on Sydney Tower.

13TH/14TH Of AUGUST 2020:


It is now looking extremely likely Sydney NYE 2020 will look different to any edition since the iconic Sydney NYE1999 – ‘Sydney’s Millennium’ edition.

Extra-ordinary crowd restrictions seem very likely right now with Sydney Spectaculars predicting less than half of the current attendance (1 million) would turn up due to the other half being international tourists who, as far as we are aware, cannot enter Australia until Midnight on NYE. So a maximum attendance of 500,000 is expected, which is similar to the attendance rates of the early 2000’s, which was shortly after when the event became world famous due to the Millennium. Taking into account the COVID-19 extra-ordinary crowd restrictions, it is very likely attendance would be at a maximum that is definitely way lower than 500,000 people.

However, Sydney Harbour is mostly surrounded by suburbia so people who live around Sydney Harbour could still maybe be the only people legally allowed to watch the show from thir house or on the Harbour if in Harbour-side local government areas they are allowed to use their water vessels on the night. Depending on how the show is developed, it may be shown on television domestically and via the Internet for the event’s international fan base.

Daily Mail Australia was told by a spokesman of the official event organiser, the City Of Sydney:

City of Sydney Council is working with the government to assess the impact of COVID-19 on all major events, including New Year’s Eve.

These events are subject to the NSW Government’s public health orders, which are continuously amended to address the local impact of the pandemic

Where events are deemed safe enough to occur, we will prepare and enact COVID safe plans and physical distancing guidelines to safeguard the health and safety of our community, staff and contractors

The City Of Sydney has worked with the New South Wales (NSW) State Government with the event’s management since the inaugural edition in 1976. Currently, since 2001, a regularly renewed 5-year Memorandum Of Understanding connects the NSW State Government with the event so ‘talks with the NSW State Government’ are not unusual.

The City Of Sydney’s response to Daily Mail Australia’s enquiries subsequently prompted media queries to Stuart Ayres, the New South Wales Tourism Minister:

He then appeared on Radio 2GB’s Ben Fordham Show at 6:53am AEST on Friday the 14th of August 2020:

Sydney Spectaculars was planning to write an opinion piece in July about how the City Of Sydney should approach Sydney NYE2020. We will try to publish this as soon as possible (It is still a draft).

22ND OF MAY 2020:


Vivid Sydney was supposed to begin today for 18 nights but Sydneysiders dislike their events being cancelled. They could not cope in 1987 when Sydney NYE was cancelled for 2 years & still could not when Vivid Sydney was cancelled for the 1st time ever this year due to COVID-19. A Sydneysider has started up a ‘DIY (Do It Yourself) Vivid Australia’ event:

Sydney’s Vivid Festival has been COVID-19 cancelled… or has it?!

Get your own festive lights out on your balcony, switch over your lounge room bulbs to COLOUR. Get your self isolation pad LIT for our own makeshift DIY Vivid Australia starting on Friday 22 May 2020! #DIYvivid

Shine some light in these dark times! Connect together, but from a distance.

First night livestream with tunes from Tassone at 7pm!

It is being hosted by DIY Rainbow, who ‘chalk DIY rainbows for equality’ and begins at 7pm each night in your Australian time zone.

If you are the organiser of DIY Vivid Australia, can you contact us or use our feedback form as a means of communication? As we study Sydney’s major events from an historical perspective, your insight would be great in such a major milestone in human history.

Their version finishes on the night of June 5.

It is not an official Vivid Sydney event.

24TH & 25TH OF APRIL 2020:


1ST OF APRIL 2020:


Richard Wilkins, long-time television (co-)host of ‘Sydney NYE’ from the 1996 edition to the 2005 edition, has tested negative to COVID-19.

He was first tested positive on the 15th of March and had remained in home quarantine since – a total of 19 days – where he was tested positive at least 2 more times.

On his Instagram, he wrote, accompanied with a video of him symbolically throwing an empty box of Corona beer into the recycling bin:

…and Coronavirus you’re outta here! I’ve been cleared to return to work by the incredible team at NSW Health. #NEGATIVE!! Thanks all… KIA KAHA… much love. RW x

We wish Richard future good health & all the people still infected with COVID-19 to get well very soon.

29TH OF MARCH 2020:

The Australian Government has released 2 ‘Coronavirus Australia’ apps & a WhatsApp channel for COVID-19.

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, today announced:

Today we have been able to put in place the WhatsApp feature, and if you search for “” you will get access to a new messaging service which enables us to talk to more Australians in terms of basic health advice, updates on the measures that are being put in place by State and Federal Governments, and that will assist you to get to be accurate and timely information about what is being done by governments around the country to support you and your family.
I can also say that on the Apple app store, you can download the coronavirus app.
I did that this morning and that is available and is doing the same thing, providing further information, more resources
“That is an official source of information and I would ask for the support of media in promoting those channels where people can get access to that information.
You can also download an Android version here.
These services would come in handy for potential international
visitors to Australia once the pandemic is over.

25TH OF MARCH 2020:


Richard Wilkins, long-time television (co-)host of ‘Sydney NYE’ from the 1996 edition to the 2005 edition, who tested positive for COVID-19 on the 15th of March, has given an update on his condition.
On his Instagram, he wrote:
So …. I’ve now returned a positive result THREE times… still can’t believe it as I still have ZERO symptoms. They tested me again today ,.. and hopefully will return a NEGATIVE result. Fingers crossed!!! The suggestion is …. that 3 days after the last symptom …people should ‘assume’ that they’re over this thing … and ‘proceed with caution’ ! I find this totally unacceptable and irresponsible! I completely understand the fact that the last thing the Health Dept wants to do is spend days retesting people like me… and God knows that I don’t want to soak up resources… but I don’t see how I can walk out my front door until I have a clean ‘bill of health’! I know the health system is fighting a huge battle … and resources are stretched …but in clear conscience … I can’t put others at risk … until I’m assured that I’m not POSITIVE anymore ! Love to all RW XX
We wish Richard & all people infected with COVID-19 to get well very soon.

24TH OF MARCH 2020:


The PM announces restrictions have been extended

The Government has completed the list of the types of activities they have determined are “appropriate” at this time.

As well as those that aren’t.

From midnight tomorrow night these activities will no longer be permitted

  • Cafes are limited to takeaway, as was announced on Sunday
  • Cinemas, nightclubs, casinos, gambling venues, adult entertainment venues, concert venues and stadiums, which were also announced on Sunday
  • Amusement parks and arcades
  • Indoor and outdoor play centres
  • Community and recreation centres, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre, spin facilities, saunas, wellness centres, boot camps
  • Personal training must move outdoors and is limited to a maximum of 10 people
  • Social, sporting-based activities and swimming pools
  • Weddings can go ahead but only with no more than five people and funerals can go ahead but only with no more than 10 people. Both are subject to social distancing rules
  • Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, libraries, community centres, non-essential facilities, community facilities such as halls and Police Citizens Youth Clubs
  • Hairdressers and barber shops can continue services, but the Prime Minister says social distancing must be practised and the number of people on premises must be limited
  • Food courts in shopping centres will no longer be permitted, though takeaway can continue
  • Auction houses
  • Outdoor and indoor markets will be addressed specifically in individual states and territories
  • Personal services such as beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlours (but not physiotherapy) are banned

‘Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary you go out’

The PM says people should only go out for the “basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members provided it’s a small group, that’s fine”.
But people should not go out and “participate more broadly in the community unless you’re shopping for basics or there are medical needs or you’re providing care and support to an individual at another place”.
“Going to work [is permitted] … where you can, work from home. That is encouraged.”
The Prime Minister says that visits to your home should be kept to a minimum and with a very small number of guests.
“So that means barbecues with lots of friends, or even family, extended family, coming together to celebrate one-year-olds’ birthday parties and those sorts of things, we can’t do those things now.”

The states and territories will be looking at making house parties an offence

Mr Morrison says: “House parties where someone wants to now have social events at someone’s home, the states and territories will be particularly looking at that one and consider whether they’ll specifically put measures in place that could lead to that being and offence for those who have organised those types of events.”
The Prime Minister adds: “Now, the medical experts panel have made suggestions about how that can be managed.
“It’s very difficult to put a number on it. But the point about it is this: If you’re gathering together in a group, say, 10 people, together, outside in a group, that’s not OK. We’ve got to move people on. It’s not a hard and fast rule. I say it only for illustrative purposes.”

This means, in Australia, if you are still planning an ‘on-ground’ Earth Hour 2020 event, it must follow the new restrictions above as well as no longer be held in a venue mentioned above which is restricted from opening.

23RD OF MARCH 2020:


New South Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said this:

New South Wales, along with every other state, will be putting in additional enforcement measures from midday today, and as was said last night by the Prime Minister.

This includes venues such as pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas and entertainment venues. Restaurants and cafes and the like will be restricted to home delivery and takeaway.

Today, this morning, the website will have specific details about which venues will no longer be allowed to operate in the normal way from noon today. This will provide certainty to businesses.

This means, in Australia, if you are still planning an ‘on-ground’ Earth Hour 2020 event, it can no longer be held in a venue mentioned above which is restricted from opening.

22ND OF MARCH 2020:


Licensed areas of pubs and other venues to be closed tomorrow

“When we all don’t do the right thing then it has real implications for others,” says Mr Morrison

He says in stage 1 of Government plan that gatherings in the following facilities will be closed as of midday tomorrow. Licensed areas in hotels and pubs.

Entertainment venues and casinos.Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to TAKE AWAY.

“This should highlight to all Australians how serious this is,” Mr Morrison said.

Scott Morrison says ‘no confidence’ that initial measures would have been followed

The Prime Minister said during the press conference that the reason for the new restrictions being put in place is that he and the CMO Brendan Murphy had no confidence the initial warnings were being followed, and highlighted the actions of the younger members of society in his comments.
“What we’re doing here is dealing with the principal places of social gathering,” Mr Morrison said.
“We don’t now have any confidence that people would refrain from gathering in those ways, in those places, pubs, clubs, nightclubs and Dr Murphy has made it pretty clear that’s principally among the younger community.
“We have no confidence that will be followed, so unfortunately, because guidelines can’t be followed, then for public health reasons we now need to take a further action which shuts those gatherings down.”

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy also had a bit to say – here are the key parts of his speech

  • ​We must live differently
“If Australia is going to get through the challenge of this pandemic over the coming months, we have to live differently,” Dr Murphy said.
  • Implores younger Aussies to take this seriously

“We’ve been making that point very clear over the last week. But it’s also clear that some people haven’t got it. I’m particularly talking to young people who may think they’re immune to the effects of this virus,” he said.

“As a young person you don’t want to be responsible for the severe and possibly fatal disease of an elder, vulnerable Australian.”

  • Mass events a problem
“We’ve had some events in Australia where 35 people have picked up the virus from one particular function. We cannot allow this sort of spread to happen.”
  • High international impact
“Many of the cases that we have seen in the last few days have been from international travelers. We’ve seen some irresponsible behaviour from people who were told to quarantine and have not. And they have spread the virus. We now have to be absolutely rigid. If you come back from anywhere, a cruise ship, a plane, and you come back to this country, you go home and you quarantine for two weeks, no exceptions. You are putting your fellow Australians at risk if you break that rule.”

PM’s office releases statement

This is a direct media release from the PM’s Office

Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months.
The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:
  • Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).
Isolated remote community hubs are not included in these restrictions.
Other facilities are not impacted, but will be considered under stage 2 restrictions, if necessary.
These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.
Leaders noted that these enhanced measures build on existing measures to slow the virus and save lives:
  • No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
  • All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
  • Where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others
  • Avoid non essential travel
  • Restrictions on entering aged care homes to protect older Australians
This means, in Australia, if you are still planning an ‘on-ground’ Earth Hour 2020 event, it can no longer be held in a venue mentioned above which is restricted from opening.

20TH OF MARCH 2020:


From  their ‘Fireworks’ webpage:

Following advice from the Federal Government to limit public gatherings of more than 500 people, Fireworks in Darling Harbour will be cancelled until further notice.

We encourage you to refer to the NSW Health website for the latest information relating to COVID-19.

Next Saturday’s fireworks were not planned to go ahead anyway due to Earth Hour.

The Australian Government has announced an 1 person per 4 square metres arrangement for non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people until further notice.

The Prime Minister, The Honourable Scott Morrison MP, announced:

What we are now moving to is an arrangement for gatherings of less than 100, is that they would be four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space, in a room. So that’s 2m by 2m. So for example, if you’ve got a room, if you’ve got a premises, if you’ve got a meeting room or something like that, that’s 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room.

The ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more & non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more still remains in place until further notice.

This means, in Australia, if you are still planning an ‘on-ground’ Earth Hour 2020 event indoors, whatever your room size is (in square metres), divide it by 4. That is your new capacity, unless it is above 100 people. If it is above 100 people, your capacity is 100 people no matter what.

18TH OF MARCH 2020:


From their ‘Coronavirus Update’ webpage, which will be updated regularly:


In these unprecedented times, we appreciate the ongoing community concern about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We want to reassure you that the team at Darling Harbour have been vigilant in monitoring the situation and share how we are proactively implementing measures to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of all customers, retailers, staff and local community.


We have high standards of rigorous cleaning and hygiene through our shopping and dining precincts and have recently increased our vigilance of cleaning in frequently used touch points.

We are working closely with our retailer partners to ensure they follow the same levels of cleanliness and hygiene.

As per the guidance of the Department of Health, we encourage all customers to maintain good personal hygiene practices including washing your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, covering your mouth while coughing and sneezing, and keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent germs from spreading. If you are unwell, stay home and seek medical attention immediately if you are showing any of the viral symptoms. If you have travelled to the high-risk countries, a 14-day self-quarantine should be followed, as per health guidelines.

For additional information please visit:


With a strong focus on following the necessary wellbeing precautions, Darling Harbour remains open and trading so that we can continue to serve our community and our retailers, ensuring that products and services are readily available.  Individual store trading hours may vary and are subject to change and we encourage our customers to keep up-to-date via our website, or contact us at

As circumstances continue to evolve, we will remain vigilant and responsive to amending our approach, ensuring that the health, safety and wellbeing of our customers, retailers, staff and community is our highest priority.

We thank you for your continued support.

The Australian Government has BANNED non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more & non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more until further notice.

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, today announced:

The decisions they have made is that to put a ban on non-essential gatherings of persons 100 or greater in indoor areas. Outdoor areas it is 500 and indoor areas it is 100. That is effective now, as of today and those arrangements, in terms of the legal enforcement of those measures are being put in place by the states and territories.

There is a baseline that has been established amongst the national cabinet which reflected in a lot of the legislation that was put in in relation to the outdoor ban and that is an airport, public transportation, which includes public transportation facilities, such as stations, platforms, stops, trains, trams, buses, these are essential. Medical and health service facilities, emergency service facilities, disability or aged care facilities, correctional facilities, youth justice centres or other places of custody, courts or tribunals.

Parliaments, food market, supermarket, grocery store, retail store, shopping centre that is necessary for the normal business of those premises. Office buildings, factories, construction sites, mining sites, necessary for their normal operation.

Non-essential is everything else. States and Territories have the ability to add to those lists as they see fit, based on the advice and we are seeking to coordinate that.

This means, in Australia, if you are still planning an ‘on-ground’ Earth Hour 2020 event indoors, it must have 100 people or less in attendance & if outdoors, it must have 500 people or less.

17TH OF MARCH 2020:


Earth Hour has not been cancelled but instead of ‘on-ground events’, Earth Hour is urging people to do Earth Hour digitally instead this year. They have added these questions to their global Frequently Asked Questions’ webpage:

Will Earth Hour events take place this year, given the threat of the COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

The well-being and health of our supporters and staff is our top priority. Many countries are currently facing a health crisis with the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives from this outbreak and our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones or who are sick.  Given the unprecedented circumstances, the Earth Hour global organizing team is advising that Earth Hour is celebrated digitally this year but countries should decide what to do for the best in line with national guidelines.

There are many ways to encourage participation online or at home so your communities can show support for the planet on and around the hour.  If you are planning an Earth Hour event online in your own community, here are some great ideas. If you do decide to continue with an on-the-ground Earth Hour event, please closely follow national health guidelines on hosting large public events and make a decision based on the advice provided by your country’s Ministry of Health.

Wherever you are, you can help make this year’s Earth Hour bigger than ever by speaking up for nature loss and and showing your support online by adding your Voice for the Planet. Please ask your family and friends to do the same.

Earth Hour has always been a people-led movement. The well-being and health of our supporters and staff is our top priority. We stand in solidarity and support of our global communities and encourage all participants to celebrate Earth Hour safely.

Do you think it is appropriate to celebrate Earth Hour when the world is facing a global health crisis? Why doesn’t WWF simply cancel Earth Hour?

The well-being and health of our supporters and staff is our top priority. In the midst of the COVID 19 health crisis, we need to stand together now more than ever to safeguard our future and the future of our planet. Earth Hour 2020 is more than a symbolic event, it is a global environmental movement to stop the destruction of nature on which our health, happiness and future prosperity depends. Nature is the planet’s life support system and gives us everything we need; from the air we breathe, the water we drink, to the food we eat. The link between nature and good health has been well documented. Even spending two hours a week in nature is known to lead to better health. Nature underpins our life, health and well-being but it is in a crisis!  Now is not the time to pause our collective work, but a time to respond more creatively, work more collaboratively, and listen and adapt more effectively. 

We are therefore advising that communities celebrate Earth Hour digitally this year and follow national health guidelines on attending and hosting public events. Whichever way you, your community, your family or your friends choose to celebrate Earth Hour this year, we can still raise our collective voices to secure a New Deal for Nature and People, even if this year, we are doing it from the safety of our homes. Show your support online by adding your Voice for the Planet.  Please ask your family and friends to do the same.

Some of the countries celebrating Earth Hour digitally are in fact hosting virtual events as exciting and ambitious as our physical events. Stay tuned for more updates on this page to find out more.

What is WWF’s message to the thousands of gatherings planned for Earth Hour?

The health and safety of your community should be your first priority. Please follow these best practice guidelines:

  • The Earth Hour global organising team advises that communities celebrate Earth Hour digitally this year. There are many ways to encourage participation online or at home to show support for the planet on and around the hour – here are some great ideas.
  • If you decide to host an Earth Hour on-ground event, you should always closely follow national health guidelines on hosting public events and make a decision based on the advice provided by your Ministry of Health. And remember, your attendees may have concerns. You can reassure them by providing them with the latest information, based on national health guidelines.
  • We recommend you continue monitoring and following national health guidelines closely as circumstances are dynamic and can change on a daily basis. It would be good to have contingency plans in place in the case of an on-ground event cancellation. Do also prepare a communication plan to keep participants and partners informed. Ensure timely and transparent communication.

Whichever way you, your family or your friends choose to participate in Earth Hour this year, your collective voices are vitally important. Together, we must secure a New Deal for Nature and People to protect and restore nature for people and the planet.

Earth Hour is on Saturday the 28th of March 2020 between 8:30pm & 9:30pm in your time zone.

Remember, it is the only Sydney Spectacular you can attend anywhere on Earth. It started in Sydney in 2007 by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) before going global the following year.

Of course, Australian Earth Hour on-ground events, including in Sydney where the Spectacular was started, are advised by the Australian Federal Government to impose a 500 person capacity.

And remember, anywhere around the world,  you can still turn the lights off for 1 hour at 8:30pm in your time zone if it safe to do so due to the COVID-19 virus & according to your National Government. But if you can’t, follow the digital options in the links featured in the Frequently Asked Questions above.

16th of March 2020:


Opera Australia today released this statement:

On advice from the government, we have…cancelled the season of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour — La Traviata.

If you have tickets for a cancelled performance, you’ll receive an email with further details about how to refund or exchange your tickets.

If you have any questions, please email We are experiencing long wait times on the phone. Our box offices in Sydney and Melbourne are closed to visitors.

The month-long nightly ticketed performance has been one of the most well known performances globally to see due to it’s backdrop, unique stages & use of fireworks.

The event began in 2012 with a performance of ‘La Traviata’ and last year, they did a musical for the 1st time. The 2020 edition, which returns to being an opera, was due to begin on March 27 & conclude on April 26. Until late March 2022 it is then.

For those who will miss out, you can buy a copy of the 2012 version as well as the other editions since via this link:…/progr…/handa-opera-sydney-harbour

15th of March 2020:


The full statement can be found here.

It is Australia’s largest & most attended (around 2.4 million) event, surpassing even the more iconic ‘Sydney NYE’. Vivid Sydney begun in 2009 while Sydney NYE begun in 1976, cancelled in 1987 & 1988 and became world famous at the turn of the Millennium.

Vivid Sydney began in 2009. The 23-day event was due to begin on May 22 this year with a media launch due on Tuesday (now clearly cancelled). Until late-May 2021 it is then.

This has been a BIG announcement that only just broke (early hours here in Australia).

Most significant since the Sydney NYE cancellation of 1987 (due to a mass murder in The Rocks on NYE 1986)


Richard Wilkins, long-time television (co-)host of ‘Sydney New Year’s Eve’ from the 1996 edition to the 2005 edition has tested positive for COVID-19, after being in close contact with Rita Wilson, the wife of Tom Hanks.
9 News confirmed the network’s entertainment editor and Weekend TODAY host’s news to Australian Broadcasting Corporation News.
We wish Richard & all people infected with COVID-19 to get well very soon.

13th of March 2020:

The Australian Government advised people and event organisers not to attend/hold gatherings that feature 500 people or more in a stationary position from Monday the 16th of March.

Public transport is exempted from this advice.

This advice will be clarified on Sunday the 15th of March by the Australian Government.

Permanent Sydney Spectaculars

We do not believe Badu Gili, the light show on Luna Park Sydney’s Ferris Wheel & the Australian National Maritime Museum projections (if any are currently or proposed to be on before Vivid Sydney, please check with the Museum if any are on or proposed to be on) would be affected as they would receive a stationary audience of less than 500 people. However, the Saturday night Darling Harbour fireworks may feature a crowd of more than 500 people.

We have contacted Darling Harbour for clarification on the Saturday night fireworks.

Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney, which begins on May 22, features some of these types of stationary 500+ people events. It’s signature event, the Vivid Light Walk, is not yet affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but some Light projection shows and particularly any Vivid Music & Ideas events with 500+ in attendance might be. Cruises with 500+ in attendance may be too but not Sydney Ferries as it is considered public transport. We encourage any cruise companies affected to contact us if they are still doing cruises for Vivid (assuming parts of the event is held during the pandemic). The event is planned to conclude on the 13th of June. As you can tell, this is in peak influenza season and hundreds of thousands of people will feature on the Vivid Light Walk nightly particularly on (long) weekends and Friday nights so there is a chance you may catch a virus with similar symptoms to CO-VID19. Be extra cautious if the event is still on during the pandemic and you decide to attend.

Last week, we contacted Vivid Sydney about how the virus would affect the event & when the media launch would be. We have received no response so far. However, the media launch for the event is due next Tuesday (though this has not been confirmed by us). There is a chance the media launch may be postponed until medical advice suggests the event may be held.

There is also a slight possibility Vivid Sydney 2020 could be postponed depending on future medical advice.

If Vivid Sydney 2020 is cancelled, it will be the 1st flagship Sydney Spectacular to be cancelled since October 2001 when the Centenary Of Federation Navy Fleet Review (which was to feature the Battle Of Australia fireworks/light show) was cancelled due to the September 11 attacks less than a month earlier in New York City, USA.

At this stage, Vivid Sydney is still on.

Earth Hour

The next non-flagship Sydney Spectacular is Earth Hour however that does not fit the requirements of the advice above so that can go ahead. In fact, you can be part of it anywhere in the world on 28 March for 1 hour between 8:30pm & 9:30pm. Just make sure you are with less than 500 people at that time or at least, moving around (not in the same spot, obviously).

Sydney Spectaculars will be placing extra emphasis on Earth Hour this year given the threat global warming is placing on the Sydney Spectaculars long-term.

Handa Opera On Sydney Harbour: La Traviata

The day before Earth Hour, Handa Opera On Sydney Harbour: La Traviata, a nightly performance on Sydney Harbour complete with fireworks, begins. It runs until April 26.

Opera Australia, on their website, said:

We are currently working out what this means for us. We will have an update on the morning of Monday 16 March.

Other Sydney Spectaculars

All other Sydney Spectaculars after Vivid Sydney are too far in the future right now to be concerned about. However, stay tuned to this live blog.

OPINION: COVID-19 Now Defines 2020 – What Could This Mean For Sydney NYE2020?

Sydney NYE2001 – ‘Of Beauty Rich & Rare: ‘The Australian Spirit’

Black Christmas bushfires

(24 December 2001 to 7 January 2002)

0 deaths

Event result: Slight theme change from ‘Of Beauty Rich & Rare: Australia – The Land’ to ‘Of Beauty Rich & Rare: The Australian Spirit’

Sydney NYE2014 – Inspire

The Lindt Cafe Siege

(15 to 16 December 2014)

2 deaths

Event result: Flower pylon projections apparently

Sydney NYE2019

2019–20 Australian Bushfire Season

(from June 2019 to March 2020)

34 deaths

Event result: Global donation appeal including charity concert & donation appeal (raising $13.3 million).


September 11 attacks

(11 September 2001)

2,996 deaths

Event result: Bridge Effect changed from a cockatoo to a dove of peace

Sydney NYE2004 – Reflections On Australiana

Indian Ocean Earthquake & Tsunami

(26 December 2004)

227,898 deaths

Event Result: Domestic donation appeal (raised $1.5 million) & a minute’s silence at 9pm.

Sydney NYE2020

COVID-19 Pandemic

(1 December 2019 to present)

787,701 deaths as of 19th of August

Event Result: ?

We know for sure a minute’s silence at 9pm (and probably Midnight as well as the pandemic is highly likely to enter into 2021) & a donation appeal is deserving as it goes with the 2004 precedent.

A donation appeal could be with the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund (regrets to the Refugee Council Of Australia – the event’s official charity partner – for having less attention for a 2nd year in a row). As of writing, the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund has raised $233,859,565.


However, with the Federal Tourism Minister saying international borders remain closed until next year, Sydney NYE 2020’s attendance, if it is held, will be halved as international tourists make up half of the event’s attendance nowadays.

In recent years, the event has had an attendance of 1 million people (down from a peak of 2 million in 2015) so half of that – 500,000 – is about the attendance levels of the early 2000’s so unless a larger than recent domestic audience shows up, finding a great vantage point is double as easy to find this time. Ticketed events may also suffer as well as Sydney businesses who may rely on the international tourism Sydney NYE generates.

However, COVID-19 restrictions regarding capacity & spacing may result in an attendance way lower than 500,000.


But will the event even be held?

The event has only been cancelled once, for 2 consecutive years in 1987 after a mass murder in The Rocks culminated the building violence since the event’s 1976 inauguration. Those 2 NYE’s were replaced by a larger fireworks display for the Bicentennial Of European Settlement in 1988. Fireworks were resumed in 1989 but at an earlier time of 9pm before the return of the Midnight display in 1996. The successful 2000 Olympic bid, awarded in 1993, provided the stimulus to make what was then a small community event into an international icon, which was at the Millennium edition when the Midnight Fireworks returned as the main show after 13 years in the background (including 2 ‘offstage’).

The biggest problem is people leaving the event as that is when most people are moving. 500,000 all at once most likely to crowded public transport (or with a bit of a delay if on a cruise) could be produce a spike in cases. The event itself, which is actually held between 7pm & Midnight could also contribute to a spike in cases as crowds would be sedentary for 5 hours (or longer if they arrive in the morning or queue days prior).

Global Image

Sydney is in the southern hemisphere meaning NYE is in the summer down here. Most cities celebrate NYE in the winter as they are in the Northern Hemisphere, meaning COVID-19 could rise in most of major cities around the world on NYE. Rio de Janeiro is the next iconic NYE event in the Southern Hemisphere. However, Brazil has had a terrible run of COVID-19 cases since May.

If Sydney went ahead, due to it’s world famous prestige, it may look insensitive to these other countries suffering as we enter 2021.

Recent Developments

In the past week, Sydney NYE has made the news particularly after Sydney NYE2020’s cancellation is “a real possibility” according to City Of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

The City Of Sydney is the official organiser of the event working with the New South Wales Government via a regularly updated 5-year Memorandum Of Understanding.

Even if they did a small fireworks display, this will not stop the crowds. Just look at Sydney NYE’s history.

Earlier, we referred to the only cancellation of Sydney NYE in 1987 & 1988. This was due to a mass murder in The Rocks in 1986. The cancellation announcement we understand was made in March 1987, so you can forgive the cruise operators below if they forget about what was a small community event at the time being cancelled 9 months earlier, but we got news articles like this:

Aubin, T 1987, ‘Why the New Year won’t begin with a bang’, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 December, p. 1.

And this was BEFORE the event was world famous.

If Sydney NYE is held publicly, in it’s now world famous state, in terrible COVID-19 conditions, we believe this will not stop people acting like in 1987.

Like we’ve said many times before on this blog, Sydneysiders hate their events being cancelled. We just can’t cope!

Despite the article saying the cancellation was made in 1986, a February 2 1987 article from the Sydney Morning Herald, shows Stephen Hall, director of the Festival Of Sydney (and thus, New Year’s Eve) from the inaugural 1976 edition to 1994, was considering examining whether to hold NYE1987 as late as early February 1987 and not in 1986 as stated in the December 22 article:

Costa, L 1987, ‘Bard for the people is Festival ‘dream”, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 February, p. 2.

Notably, as you can read in the article, even though the fireworks were located for the 1st time to multiple points on NYE (there were 2 – Mortlake Point (10km from Sydney Harbour Bridge) & Tania Park (7km from Sydney Harbour Bridge)), it did not stop violence in the Sydney Central Business District, particularly in The Rocks, as well as the deaths of 6 people in total, heaps faraway from the official fireworks locations. After a decade of growing violence, a death, let alone 6, was the final straw leading to the event’s cancellation in March 1987.

The 2-year cancellation created the Bicentennial Festival Of Sydney Australia Day Fireworks, which used the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s upper arch for the 1st time and utilised the 2-years worth of fireworks.

Sydney NYE returned in 1989 with only a fireworks display at 9pm called the Skyshow and since 1996, called the 9pm Family Fireworks under the current event title Sydney New Year’s Eve, as it was separated from the Festival Of Sydney the same year. The fireworks were brought 3 hours forward to make it more family-friendly and it worked as it is still part of the event today, a critical part it should be pointed out too.

Therefore, even if no event is held this year, a high police presence would be required to ensure no violence returns as prior to 1989.

The Midnight Fireworks were officially brought make as a small show on NYE1996 before returning as the main show to welcome in the new Millennium in that iconic show ending in Eternity.

The Festival Of Sydney since the mid-1990’s has been called the Sydney Festival and still runs today (well, 2021, we’ll have to wait & see).

So how should we party on NYE2020?

No doubt, it has to reflect the year 2020 – the year of COVID-19, whilst looking forward to what we like our future to be in 2021. Sydney has the ability to do something like this in an iconic way but it might have to involve no crowds or little publicity. But a massive event with little publicity would probably not be held – it would have to be small-scale in some way still with little publicity. Sydney can do it but they need a high police presence even with no ‘official’ crowds to ensure violence does not break out – we’ll have to wait and see what the plans are – but Sydney Spectaculars believes the event (whether held by the Harbour or not) deserves 2 minutes of silence, 1 at 9pm & 1 crossing over at Midnight, as well as a focus on the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Ever year, Sydney leads the world into the new year. This year, Sydney should represent the world into the new year. Like we’ve always said here at Sydney Spectaculars, since the Millennium, Sydney New Year’s Eve has become ‘The World’s Party’, with great universality. It’s broadcast could be on-sold to countries who can’t celebrate themselves on NYE and ensuring the funds raised to COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund have come from all around the world.

The event industry was the 1st industry to be affected by the pandemic and it will be the last to recover so hopefully at the end of this pandemic, Sydney will put on the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration yet to celebrate the end of one of the biggest global pandemics ever.

Wishing everyone good health for the future.

As of posting, Sydney New Year’s Eve 2020 has not been cancelled but extra-ordinary crowd restrictions have been flagged and more notably, it will not be “traditional” (that is, like an edition since the Millennium) by the New South Wales Tourism Minister, Stuart Ayres. The official organisers’, the City Of Sydney’s, Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has said as of the 14th of August that cancellation is “a real possibility”.

Vivid Sydney To Return In August 2021

Vivid Sydney – the Harbour City’s iconic celebration of lights, music and ideas – will return in August 2021.

The popular and award-winning event will bring creativity, innovation and excitement to Sydney in a COVID-safe manner for locals, visitors and global fans to enjoy, near or afar.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said Vivid Sydney was an important cultural, social and economic beacon for NSW.

“Major events will play a critical role in stimulating the visitor economy and NSW’s broader COVID-19 recovery strategy,” Minister Ayres said.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that with a slight delay to regular scheduling, Vivid Sydney will be able to proceed as the bright, dynamic event we all know and love in August next year.

“There’s no doubt that all future events will need to make adjustments to be COVID – safe in line with NSW Health advice and reflect the changes we are experiencing in day-to-day life.

“Vivid Sydney has always celebrated and explored innovation and creativity, but more importantly brought joy to people who visit in person or who follow the media and social media coverage.

“We look forward to reigniting that excitement and passion within the artistic
community and our supporters, and creating tangible opportunities for the tourism industry by driving visitors to Sydney and NSW in a safe way.”

In 2019, a record 2.4 million people attended Vivid Sydney, generating $172 million in tourism expenditure.

Further details about Vivid Sydney 2021 will be shared later in 2020.

Media Release: Vivid Sydney

Australia and New Zealand selected as hosts of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ will be staged in Australia and New Zealand, following a vote taken by the FIFA Council during its meeting held via videoconference, the result of which was announced by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

The joint bid submitted by Football Federation Australia and New Zealand Football received 22 of the 35 valid votes cast by the FIFA Council members in the first ballot, with the Colombian Football Association having obtained 13 votes. The full voting results are available below.

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ Voting Results

Following on from the astounding success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™ in France and the subsequent unanimous decision by the FIFA Council, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be the first edition to feature 32 teams and it will also be the first to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand and across two confederations (AFC and OFC).

Media Release: FIFA

Aussie Artists Join Livestream For The Planet Tonight As Earth Hour Goes Digital

Join Australia unplugged and online tonight as we switch off for Earth Hour.

A huge line-up of Aussie musicians and comedians will come together to present a livestream for the planet tonight, as landmarks around Australia switch off their lights for Earth Hour at 8.30pm local time.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, WWF-Australia is hosting Earth Hour differently this year, giving Australians everywhere the chance to stay connected via a digital livestream – #EarthHourLive.

Australian musicians Montaigne, Cody Simpson, Jack River, Polish Club, Bobby Alu, Ella Haber, Dulcie and Alice Skye will perform as part of the livestream, hosted by journalist and broadcaster Patrick Abboud at 8.30pm AEDT.

#EarthHourLive will also feature appearances from acclaimed comedians Akmal, Georgie Carroll and The Stevenson Experience, along with footage of lights out in Sydney, special guests and giveaways.

“Staying connected as a community and looking for positive ways we can contribute is more important than ever as the world responds to the coronavirus crisis,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.

While public Earth Hour events have been cancelled to prioritise community safety during the COVID-19 outbreak, landmarks around Australia including the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Luna Park, The Wheel of Brisbane, Melbourne Star Observation Wheel and The Bell Tower in Perth will still be switching off their lights in a symbolic moment.

More than 100 landmarks from across the world are also preparing to switch off to show their support for Earth Hour, including the Eiffel Tower, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Tokyo Skytree, Brandenburg Gate, the Colosseum in Rome, Taipei 101, the Petronas Twin Towers, the Ali Qapu Palace, the Akropolis, Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong and many more.

“The act of switching off our lights for Earth Hour has always been a show of solidarity for stronger action on climate and a chance for millions of people worldwide to collectively raise their voice for nature,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“This year will be dramatically different as we all strive to control the spread of COVID-19. Most of us will be spending tonight at home, but we can still connect to a community of supporters around Australia and be part of a positive moment for the planet.

“We’re thrilled to have so many incredible artists, musicians and comedians helping us to bring #EarthHourLive to Australia. We hope you’ll join us tonight to connect with a community of amazing people around Australia and show your support for Earth Hour in a whole new way.”

Switch off your lights at 8.30pm tonight and log in to join the #EarthHourLive stream on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and at

To sign up to Earth Hour visit:

Media Release: Earth Hour Australia

Earth Hour 2020 Goes Digital In Solidarity With People & The Planet

In the midst of the global COVID-19 health crisis, Earth Hour marks a moment of solidarity for the planet as global communities unite and organize events digitally.
  • Several countries prepare to organize Earth Hour virtually to ensure public safety and show solidarity for those affected by COVID-19
  • Celebrities, environmentalists and nation heads unite and pledge their support online for nature and people

27 March 2020, Singapore – On Saturday, 28 March, Earth Hour, one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment, will once again inspire individuals, businesses and organizations in over 180 countries and territories to renew their commitment to the planet.

In the midst of the global COVID-19 health crisis, Earth Hour marks a moment of solidarity for the planet as global communities unite and organize events digitally.

With nature loss continuing unabated, Earth Hour 2020 draws attention to the immediate need for halting nature and biodiversity loss for our health and well-being. The global moment comes ahead of world leaders scheduled to take critical decisions on nature, climate change and development. Earth Hour marks a pivotal opportunity for civil society members, citizens, nation heads, CEOs and environmentalists to demonstrate the need for a New Deal for Nature & People by pledging their support at Voice for the Planet.

Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International, said, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives from the COVID-19 outbreak and our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones or who are sick. In this hour of crisis, we need to unite now more than ever to safeguard our future and the future of our planet. It is a time for solidarity and a time to respond to challenges more creatively and work more collaboratively, which is why Earth Hour is being marked through digital events across the globe.

Nature is the lifeline for the 7.6 billion people inhabiting planet Earth. It underpins our societies and economies and is one of our greatest allies in combating the climate crisis. But today nature is failing like never before. We are destroying the natural systems we rely on for our health and well-being faster than they can replenish themselves – jeopardizing our own survival and existence. Earth Hour 2020 offers a key opportunity for all of us to join millions of people to raise their voice for securing an international commitment to stop and reverse the loss of nature. In this challenging time, we must look after one another and the one home we all share – the imperative in making a difference for our collective future is now greater than ever.”

Greta Thunberg, climate and environmental activist, said, “Earth Hour for me is every hour of every day. The need to unite and protect our planet has never been greater. As we have been asked to avoid public gatherings to slow the spreading of the COVID-19 (coronavirus), I recommend everyone to come together virtually for #EarthHour to renew our commitment to the planet and use our voices to drive action online safely and responsibly.”

This Earth Hour, 28th March at 8:30pm, I urge you all to turn off the lights and use the hour to engage your online community to pledge support at Voice for the Planet.

We must look after one another and the one home we all share. Stand with me and millions around the world to make this Earth Hour a moment to show your united presence. Let us raise our collective voices online to help ensure a cleaner, safer and greener future for everyone.”

Starting as a symbolic ‘lights out’ event in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to become a true mass movement exemplifying the power of people in driving seismic changes. The spirit of Earth Hour was demonstrated recently in Uganda which announced a ban on plastic use following an Earth Hour lead-up march on 13 February against the ill-effects of plastic pollution.

This is not a stand-alone example. Earth Hour 2020 will see people from all across the globe raise their voice to invite action on pressing environmental issues in their countries. Unprecedented digital events will mobilize millions of people online to participate in Earth Hour as never before.

South Africa is launching a digital “Power to the People” campaign for a renewed focus on clean and reliable sources of energy. Singapore will be going fully digital for the first time ever- Earth Hour 2020 – Live & Unplugged, will be a live-streamed, digital-only performance bringing together Singapore’s diverse voices for the environment. Earth Hour Qatar is partnering with AYCM Qatar, Global Shapers Doha Hub and online platform AmpUp Videos that will allow people to record videos with Earth Hour filters and upload them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Nepal will see youth from all over the country come together digitally for Earth Hour to raise their #VoiceForThePlanet and share their thoughts, art and photography on the need to protect and appreciate nature. Australia is going unplugged and online via an #EarthHourLive stream with music acts, comedians and experts, in addition, Gold Coast- Reef Check Australia and Yogaventures are holding Switch off to Switch Off: Lights off in a Candlelight Yoga Nidra relaxation session to mark Earth Hour. Turkey will be hosting a digital campaign where they will prepare a declaration calling for action for nature.

People-led initiatives around the world like Earth Hour are vital to continue to inspire awareness on the importance of nature and prompt action to help deliver a nature positive world by the end of the decade.

About Earth Hour
Earth Hour is WWF’s flagship global environmental movement. Born in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to become one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment, inspiring individuals, communities, businesses and organizations in more than 180 countries and territories to take tangible environmental action for over a decade. Historically, Earth Hour has focused on the climate crisis, but more recently, Earth Hour has strived to also bring the pressing issue of nature loss to the fore. The aim is to create an unstoppable movement for nature, as it did when the world came together to tackle climate change. The movement recognizes the role of individuals in creating solutions to the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges and harnesses the collective power of its millions of supporters to drive change.

Earth Hour is kindly supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety with funding from the International Climate Initiative (IKI), as a part of the project “Scaling up Biodiversity Communication”.

About WWF
WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million followers and a global network active in nearly 100 countries. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit for the latest news and media resources; follow us on Twitter @WWF_media

Media Release: Earth Hour



It is Australia’s largest & most attended event, surpassing even the more iconic ‘Sydney New Year’s Eve’. Vivid Sydney begun in 2009 while Sydney New Year’s Eve begun in 1976, cancelled in 1987 & 1988 and became world famous at the turn of the Millennium.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Tourism Minister, Stuart Ayres, said the NSW Government had not taken the decision to shut down Vivid Sydney lightly (pun we assume is not intended).

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Tourism Minister said:

We have taken the decision early in consideration of those planning to travel to Sydney for the festival

The Australian Government will later today clarify COVID-19 advice (particularly regarding events) that was given on Friday the 13th of March 2020.

Vivid Sydney was due to have it’s media launch on Tuesday. With the event no longer beginning on May 22, until late May 2021, it is then.

Also, expect potentially a formal announcement later today from the Tourism Minister and Vivid Sydney regarding the cancellation.

Stay tuned to our live COVID-19 blog for more details.

Vivid Sydney 2020 Cancelled

The NSW Government today announced the cancellation of Vivid Sydney 2020 following recommendations by the Federal Government and health authorities to limit non-essential organised gatherings to less than 500 people to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said that while the cancellation of the event is disappointing and another major setback for the tourism industry, it is the right thing to do to control the spread of infection and keep people safe.

“Vivid Sydney is a bright star of Sydney’s event calendar so the decision to cancel was not taken lightly. As the event owner, we must follow the advice of health officials to ensure the health and safety of our citizens and everyone involved with Vivid Sydney,” Mr Ayres said.

“We have taken the decision early in consideration of those planning to travel to Sydney for the festival, our commercial partners, artists, and volunteers so as to minimise the disruption and impact on them.

“We are currently working through the full implications of the cancellation and will provide further information and advice as soon as it’s available,” Mr Ayres said.

“It’s been an incredibly tough time for the tourism industry and this is yet another body blow, but NSW will bounce back and Vivid Sydney will shine brighter than ever in 2021.”

Vivid Sydney, the largest festival of light, music and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere, was scheduled to run from 22 May – 13 June 2020. The cancellation means that all elements of ‘Vivid Sydney – Lights, Music and Ideas’ will not proceed in 2020.

Vivid Sydney debuted in 2009 and is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency. In 2019 a record 2.4 million people attended Vivid Sydney, generating $172 million for the NSW economy.

Media Release: New South Wales Government Minister For Jobs, Investment, Tourism & Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres

City Of Sydney Requests Sydney NYE Fireworks/Alternatives Comparison

The City Of Sydney has voted unanimously tonight to request the City’s Chief Executive Officer to bring a report to Council comparing the cost & environmental impact of fireworks with alternative technologies, such as drone shows, for future Sydney New Year’s Eve editions. The Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, (Clover Moore Independent Team) was not in attendance for the vote due to ill health however media reports last month suggest she would have voted for the proposed and as you will see, varied motions too.

The original motion, proposed by Councillor Craig Chung (Liberal), was:

(A) Council note:

(i) the 2019 New Year’s Eve Fireworks display were considered the most controversial as the event was permitted to go ahead at the height of the bushfire crisis despite calls for it to be cancelled by the community;

(ii) drone shows are gradually becoming more common as alternatives to fireworks displays due to their minimal noise and environmental disruption. Between 2015 and 2018, Intel’s ‘Shooting Star’ drones have performed more than 300 shows in 16 countries;

(iii) notable drone show performances include the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Korea and the 2018 Fourth of July show in Aspen, Colorado, which was done as a safer alternative in the midst of a fire ban due to the North American wildfires; and

(iv) to date, there have been no large-scale drone shows that have been performed in Australia; and

(B) the Chief Executive Officer be requested to investigate environmentally-sustainable and non-explosive alternatives, such as drone shows, for future New Year’s Eve celebrations and provide a report back to Council.

A drone show has been done before on Sydney Harbour in 2016 as part of Vivid Sydney. Lasting 5 nights from it’s world premiere on the 8th of June to the 12th of June, it was world-record breaking at the time, consisting of 100 drones. (The world record is now in the thousands) The show, held over Farm Cove, was suitably named Drone 100 and was presented by Intel accompanied by the Sydney Youth Orchestra:

Here are other drone shows mentioned in the motion:

He opened the motion’s discussion saying:

My proposal is for an alternative, uh, looking at options for alternatives to New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Uh, as Councillors are aware & those who are in the gallery still are aware, um, uh, during the, um, the late part of last year, uh, early this year, we had some devastating bushfires, um, and, of course, at the height of those bushfires came New Year & it brought into focus for many people, um, the question about whether or not we should be exploding fireworks during that period & of course, there were some legitimate questions about fire danger & risk, um, and ultimately, the City Of Sydney, uh, decided that it would proceed & I endorsed, uh, that that was the decision that was made, um, the fireworks being planned and proposed.

It was, um, uh, given permission by the relevant fire authorities to proceed with the fireworks at that time but what it, it really brought to light was that people were starting to think about ‘Well, what are the alternatives of fireworks?’,‘What are ways in which we can, uh, still, um, have a festival which has the impact, uh, for the rest of the world?  Uh, uh, the impact for, um, the billions of people who potentially that watch our fireworks, uh, at New Year, um, but then be a way in which we can signal to the world, uh, that we are progressive, sustainable city, um, that we actually do reduce our emissions, um, that we do, uh, um, uh, improve air quality’ and, of course, my motion there and, um, the thing that has gotten a people’s attention has been the option perhaps to think about drones.

Uh, my proposal is not only for drones.

My proposal is, uh, ah, looks at the option of drones but any other way which we can celebrate New Year with, uh, non-explosive, uh, type, um, um, uh, celebrations, that which may include lasers, which may include light, which may include drones.

Now we do know already that the New Year we are, a, a, utilizing light for, for part of our New Year’s Eve celebration.

We know that, um, uh, Vivid has been a wonderful celebration for Sydney bringing tens of millions of dollars in, uh, economic benefit to Sydney, um, and it attracts many, many, many thousands of people.

Now, the, the, drones have been used in many parts of the world & indeed, they have been used in Sydney for things like Vivid, um, and trials around Farm Cove, uh, and in Darling Harbour.

Indeed, there are a number of organisations who are talking to Property New South Wales I understand about how they can, uh, perform regular shows around the Darling Harbour precinct.

They’ve been some very large-scale drone shows, laser shows, light shows around the world.

Uh, drone shows around the, uh, South Korean Olympics, um, around, uh, Super Bowl & in fact, uh, for the 4th of July celebrations in the United States when, um, when the fire danger didn’t permit for fireworks to be let off, they had drone shows.

Uh, down in Kiama, they use an accommodation of lasers & lights, um, uh, and in other jurisdictions, they are using fireworks as well as lasers & lights.

Uh, Councillors, I’d like us to be open to the idea of what can we do, uh, that might be different.

What is a way in which we can still have a, a, a, an incredible impact for the people watching around the world?

Sydney, of course, is one of the first major cities in the world to, to celebrate New Year & the eyes of the world are often on Sydney so we need to make show, that we sure that whatever we do on New Year, uh, has an impact for them, has an impact for the, the visitors & residents here in Sydney who come and line the shore.

A million of them each year, um, and produce a bit, um, a spectacular show but at the same time, um, produce a show which, uh, shows that Sydney is sustainable.

Uh, Councillors, I look forward to your support for a, um, for a, um, for a report back from the CEO about how we can actually address this.

Lasers have been used at Sydney NYE between 1998 & 2000 when they were used as the first pylon ‘projections’. Lasers have also featured recently at Vivid Sydney, on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2018 and up to recent editions, as part of the 10 to 15 minute show done on Cockle Bay at Darling Harbour each year for Vivid Sydney. Lasers were also used on the Sydney Opera House in 1993 when Sydney won the bidding rights for The Games Of The XXVIIth Olympiad: 2000.

Below are the examples of what Councillor Chung was referring to in his opening address:

The motion was then seconded by Councillor Angela Vithoulkas (Sydney Matters Independent Team). This allowed discussion to begin.

Councillor Professor Kerryn Phelps AM (Clover Moore Independent Team) then spoke:

Look, there’s no question that, uhm, (huffed), there were many questions raised about the fireworks display in, uh, New Year’s Eve 2019 to 2020 (breaths in twice) & people, (huffed), were concerned about the symbolism, uh, in the midst of the catastrophic bushfires.

They were concerned about the, the expense in the midst of all of the loss & they were concerned about the environmental impact because fireworks are not environmentally clean.

Uh, they do emit, um, uh, substances that affect air quality.

Uh, when they drop into the water, they affect water quality & so I don’t think that we can, you know, in 2020, ignore the potential environmental impacts of something that we, uh, all enjoy, uh, that we all come to expect for New Year’s Eve but, uh, in…maybe it is time to carefully move forward, to look at what other technologies are available internationally, to explore the possibility of transitioning away from, uh, the, uh, fireworks displays that we have all known and loved for many, many years & to see what else might be available which will, uh, attract Sydneysiders and international tourists to the same extent as our world famous fireworks do, um, now and, and, and certainly I think it’s, uh, worth supporting at least an exploration of these op, options and, uh, and I commend Councillor Chung for raising this issue with Council.

Councillor Phillip Thalis (Clover Moore Independent Team) then spoke:

Certainly, I think everybody in the community remembers that, that, that, the summer of distress in terms of drought & bushfire, um, and, uh, acknowledging, as the other Councillors have, that it was actually a, of course, a big point of discussion in the community about whether the, the fireworks should go ahead & the final arbiter was, in fact, the Commissioner, um, Bushfire Commissioner, who felt there, in fact, was no danger to the public, um, and, so, it was a decision which, I think, we all, uh, anguished over & I’m, I actually welcome this, um, proposal from Councillor Chung because I think there is merit in looking at alternatives and, uh, as he rightly said um, and as uh, uh, in fact, Councillor Phelps’s also said, we have, in fact, incorporated new technologies even though there’s something sort of visceral about fire, uh, about fireworks.

I remember, as a kid, seeing the Captain Cook ones in 1970.

I’ve never seen anything like it and it was, we were miles away & of course, these days, there are fireworks up and down the Harbour so I think it’s, it has been embraced by the community to quite a remarkable degree.

Certainly, there were 300,000 people sign a petition against it.

There were a million people at least who went there actually to still experience it, uh, notwithstanding all the people globally on TV and elsewhere or who simply couldn’t get to be to the edge so, um, I think it has been very interesting going over many years to see the new technologies incorporated & I don’t think any of us would discount drones per say, um, but it is also worth noting how we could turn the controversy to advantage & so the Lord Mayor did, in fact, put forward that, it, that New Year’s Eve would become a fundraiser for the victims of drought and bushfire & then in fact, um, 13.3 million dollars was raised that night, to that end and that’s as well as the money that we voted on.

Uh, 2 grants of 300,000.

One for the drought & one for the bushfire so I think that was a very significant outpouring, uh, recognition of the distress that people around our state & in fact, around our country had felt but it is also a very important event for our city.

It does bring in something like 130 million dollars to the economy.

I don’t think any of us want to imperil that in any way.

I think it is something that, uh, in fact, many people, uh, do this, do really rely on that, that money coming in.

It’s also, I think, worth clarifying the actual cost, um, that the City spends something like from the figures that, um, I’ve, I’ve been able to research.

6.5 million on the night but…. the vast majority of that is, in fact, for crowd control, signage, um, barricades and the like but the figures of the actual fireworks is just under a million dollars so that was actually quite surprising to me that it was such a small percentage & we know that the management of crowds has been something that has been growing exponentially, uh, at least since the Olympics.

It’s something that seems to be, uh, uh, called for more & more, um, and so logistics, obviously security & the like, there, there very important considerations these days.

As to the environmental, uh, impact of the fireworks, well, in fact, our fireworks last year were the cleanest on record.

Um, yes, they certainly looked smokey and, and, um, pollutant but, um, they actually not as bad as you would think & it’s actually good to see progress on this issue.

I wasn’t aware of it previously.

I must say but the City’s Sites & Operations used 100% accredited GreenPower from Sapphire Wind Farm near Glen Innes & they use fireworks made from biodegradable paper and compounds that eas, more easily breakdown so (Councillor Chung possibly inaudibly chuckled) I’m not claiming to be an expert on fireworks, Councillor Chung, um, so these are the things you find out along the way.

Uh, it’s also worth noting that, despite the incredible k’s, that the emissions actually, uh, equal to a couple of cars on the road all year so that was also a surprise to me that they don’t have, despite (gestures towards Councillor Phelps) what common sense might tell you with the, the visual impact of the fireworks, the environmental footprint is much smaller than, in fact, I, I thought as well so I’m sure our staff, as they have been for many years, are, are incorporating new technologies, that we’re using the entire city skyline.

That’s a very, uh, exciting aspect.

The way that we have used the Bridge over the last 20 years has been quite remarkable & who knows how they will be using it in, in 10 years time but I would still like to move an amendment to the motion because I think that there are more things to say.

Um, it’s not to discount what Councillor Chung has put forward but I think it is important to have a full story of the fireworks in 2019 & who knows the fireworks in 2020, let’s hope are a much better story. In 2021, they continue to embrace technology so I would like to circulate the amendment.

The amendment (which became the final motion eventually) was then circulated amongst the Councillors. The motion eventually was varied by consent rather than amended due to the similarities between them especially after Councillor Chung recommended to Councillor Thalis, who accepted his recommendation, to add “and other technologies” to section B of his own amendment.

Councillor Vithoulkas (Sydney Matters Independent Team) then spoke on the now substantive motion:

It’s certainly not debate.

I’m, um, very pleased to support this and, and, uh, second this particular, uh, notice of motion.

Just some comments.

Uh, I’m not always easy to, um, adapt to things that have childhood meaning behind them.

Um, I find that the fireworks for me & it’s by no means, I’m referring that there aren’t other small business owners around this table but, uh, I grew up in a, uh, a corner store and one of my big jobs each year was to sell the fireworks & as I progressed along to the age of 10, uh, I was allowed to choose the fireworks for the upcoming year.

Um, my brother & I, who were known as ‘The Dynamic Duo’ & terror little children of the area, would also then, uh, open up some of those fireworks & create our own so I come from a very experienced background (giggles)

(Councillor Phelps (slightly inaudible & may be incorrect): “I say how old did you say?”)

Lord, 10!

Um, a very experienced background of, um, handling fireworks, um, looking forward to them every year & what they meant for the kids around our area.

We used to have great bonfires.

I learnt to toast the best, best marshmallows & there’s, there’s something about that community feeling then somebody went and made it illegal & my career was cut short, unfortunately.

I found I had to find other ways of supplementing, um, my income at the age of 10.

I won’t tell you what else I did.

I’ll reserve that for another night, um, but it, it did have a lot of meaning for a long time.

Look, it saddens me that progress means that this might spell the end but I’m hoping that innovation will drive these very smart business owners to produce not only, um, what turns out to be a very environmentally friendly and sustainable option but perhaps complement their extreme talent & I will, um, also report that one of my favourite moments in my life, um, when I was very lucky to win the very significant business award.

I was able to view the fireworks up close in my very young years & it was quite one of the best nights of my life when I got to experience it so I’m glad I got to do it.

Many others won’t but I know that we will find a good alternative that will still fulfill that part of, um, excitement for New Year’s Eve that millions of people come to expect in a very friendly way & I hope we do get to hear a little bit of that noise, Councillor.

It means everything.

I’m very supportive.

The Chief Executive Officer was then referred to:

I’m glad, that, that, that, that the discussion is about finding, um, perhaps, a variety of things because, uh, you know, yes, drones exist.

Um, they are not necessarily…We do not know their environmental impact & I mean, um, you know if a lot of them, failed and fell into the ocean, that wouldn’t be great.

Um, we know that they generally can’t take off during wind & pretty much every New Year’s Eve – 9 o’clock fireworks are at risk because of the wind so th…that will evolve, you know, the technology so we might, you know, we might need to have, um, a variety of options & so I think the f…I think we really need to be really clear and we will do this in the report:

There, there’s the environmental piece and being really sure about what are the impacts of the different options are because there is really…There is no completely environmental, eh, you know, zero everything option probably at all.

It is going to be a combination so that’s 1 issue that came up that’s important to the community but the other issue I want to talk about is the emotional piece.

People were concerned about the fireworks because there were bushfires but I put to you:

What if there’s an aviation disaster & we’ve got a drone show?

So do you hear what I am saying?

There are some cities that do water shows.

What if there is a flood?

So we need to accept that the…There is no…There is the technology and it’s impact but there’s also the context & that is always going to be a challenge, right?

And I always tell people of the story of being in China during the mudslides & immediately China, um, just calls 3 days national mourning.

Everybody knows what that means.

There is no television, broadcasts, everybody wears dark colours.

It is a nationally understood convention when somebody important dies in Australia or somebody that’s done something significant, we fly a flag at half mast.

I’m sure a lot of countries do the same.

We understand it.

We don’t have to argue about it.

We don’t have a convention for what we do at New Year’s Eve if there is a natural disaster or something going on & that’s a kind of national conversation.

That is a very complex conversation and we, and, and what, what I am trying to say is this is going to happen it…It might not happen again next year but it has happened twice in the time that I’ve been here & it will happen again & if the technology we’re using has any association with the disaster, you are going to have the same problem & that’s just what it is so I just want to make that point that just because we change the mode, won’t necessarily change the, the, the, the…what might occur & we also need to realise that, that the scale of what we do is huge & at the moment, I don’t actually think there is a technology that can do that scale around the Harbour at that price but I totally, totally accept & appreciate that Councillors are saying ‘Please find out what’s available’, ‘What, what’s, what’s else can be done?’, ‘Let’s trial some things & over time, it might look like a slightly different show’.

Thank you.

It should be noted an aviation disaster is possible at Sydney New Year’s Eve. For over a decade, Matt Hall has done an aviation display in the early evening as part of the pre-show entertainment.

2 years ago, there was an aviation disaster in the Hawksbury River 30 kilometres north of Sydney on New Year’s Eve involving a seaplane (6 lives were lost) while returning back to it’s Sydney Harbour Rose Bay sea plane base. The fact it crashed kilometres away from the event site is probably why the event & it’s aerial display went ahead. Had it been on the Harbour, probably not.

There are actually 2 conventions for Sydney New Year’s Eve – if a mass murder occurred (like in 1986) after 7 years of increasing crowd violence, the event would be cancelled for 2 years at least. If catastrophic fire dangers are forecast the day before the event, the fireworks would be cancelled (as nearly was the case in 2001 & 2019).

Sydney Spectaculars can still imagine a way to do a drone show on a large scale -whether it is technically & financially possible is all that stands in the way

Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Jess Scully (Clover Moore Independent Team), then spoke. For our Vivid Sydney followers, you may remember Jess Scully as the original Vivid Ideas curator before leaving after the 2016 edition. Ignatius Jones took up the role temporarily until Tory Loudon got permanently appointed for the 2018, 2019 & I assume, the cancelled 2020 edition:

A few years ago, I was involved in a drone show on Sydney Harbour, um, and it was more expensive than our fireworks I can tell you, um, and for much less of an impact, um, so there are challenges around any technology that we trial, um, and, um, and I think the other thing that we should note is, is the community is quite divided on this issue.

You know, we, we may have heard from people who were opposed but there were a lot of people who did get some real joy out of that moment, um & as the CEO has noted, um, a, a crisis can come at any time and take different forms &, uh, it’s hard for us to preempt it when we are working so far in advance so I think this is a, a sensible, um, amendment that we have before us.

Councillors Christine Forster (Liberal), Linda Scott (Labor), Robert Kok & Jess Miller (Clover Moore Independent Team) did not speak during the overall discussion.

As mentioned earlier, Lord Mayor Clover Moore (Clover Moore Independent Team) was not in attendance at this meeting due to ill health.

Councillor Craig Chung (Liberal) then gave a reply to the overall discussion:

Thank you everybody for your contributions & for, um, uh, & for, uh, uh, enhancing the motion that we have got before us.

If I could just make a, a couple of comments an, and, I say thank the CEO for her comments.

I guess, um, um, our, our expectations as Councillors is, is that we’ll get something back, which give us alternatives and options & if, if, they work out, they work out & if they don’t, we’ll look at other ways.

Um, I, I, think that, uh, I acknowledge, uh, when I spoke, uh, uh, initially, that, um, of course, um, there was an outpouring of emotion & it was a convergence of events at the time, uh, and I endorsed going ahead with the, the fireworks.

I think that it was important that we did.

I think there were reasons for & against it, uh, and I think, um, un, under difficult circumstances, the Lord Mayor was the one that actually copped the pressure & I do not normally defend her but yeah, she made the right decision at that time & she had to answer for it, um, um but following on from that, I think there has been a continuing discussion about it & I think it’s…As emotion has declined a, af, after that initial period, I think that, that people are, are expecting us to, to at least consider some of the options and, and, and not, um, you know & not small number of people have, have said ‘Look, we would like you to at least look at some options’.

Cost is one of the issues, of course but look we do not know what that is.

I do not think the CEO either knows what it is.

I think there is, you know, ideas of how big or little it could be & what these…how spectacular it is.

Let’s get the facts on the table.

Let’s exactly have, have some sort of idea about it & of course, we know there are limitations with all technology.

You know, drones, um, have a limitation of about 35 kilometres an hour, uh, I understand, uh, but, you know, for those who were around 2003, the fireworks were cancelled because there was high winds so I, uh, guess all technologies have their difficulties & I am pleased that, that Councillors are open to the idea of at least thinking of some alternatives or maybe a hybrid model, uh, of what we do in the future.

Thank you.

The 9pm Family Fireworks for Sydney  New Year’s Eve 2002 were cancelled due to high (90km/h+) winds (about 2 hours before 2003) not the New Year’s Eve 2003 fireworks.

And Sydney New Year’s Eve has always been a hybrid event since it became world famous at the turn of the Millennium – consisting of music, lights & fireworks. Projection mapping shows were also introduced last edition to add to the ‘hybrid’ fireworks display. It’s pre-Millennium editions were ‘hybrid’ as well except, apart from the cancelled editions, maybe a few in the early to mid-1990’s, when the lights were removed.

The final motion, varied by Councillor Phillip Thalis (Clover Moore Independent Team) was then approved unanimously by those in attendance & the motion was:

(A) Council note:

(i) many members of the community were calling for the New Year’s Eve fireworks to be cancelled;

(ii) the 2019 New Year’s Eve fireworks display went ahead as planned after approval from the NSW Rural Fire Service;

(iii) the decision to proceed was based on the following considerations:

(a) after 15 months of preparations, the vast majority of the budget had been spent,
so the money could not have been redirected and cancelling the celebrations would have had no practical benefit for bushfire and drought-affected communities;

(b) the event contributes $133 million to the NSW economy and cancelling the event
would have had a devastating impact on hotels, restaurants, and other small businesses, particularly tourism operators in Sydney and across NSW;

(c) the Lord Mayor believed that more could be gained for fire and drought-affected
communities by harnessing the power of the event to raise money for charities responding to the crisis; and

(d) the Lord Mayor did not want to disappoint over one million people who planned to attend the event on the harbour foreshore, including many who travelled from

(iv) the City of Sydney, ABC Australia and Australian Red Cross Sydney New Year’s Eve fundraising drive raised a total of $13.3 million;

(v) the decision to proceed with the 2019 New Year’s Eve fireworks was supported by fire authorities, and political and business leaders, including:

(a) Shane Fitzsimmons, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner;

(b) the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, and the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison;

(c) Chief Executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, Margy Osmond; Executive
Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, Katherine O’Regan; General Manager
of the Captain Cook Cruises, Anthony Haworth; and former advertising executive
Jane Caro, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 December 2019;

(vi) the 2019 New Year’s Eve celebrations brought more than one million people to the harbour foreshore and their safety was the prime consideration in the planning and delivery of the event – Sydney’s fireworks have a proven safety record for such a large-scale and global event;

(vii) with their scale, height and visibility, Sydney’s fireworks have a proven appeal as:

(a) a live event staged over a large area to an audience of at least one million people;

(b) a globally broadcast event on television and via the internet to one billion people
worldwide; and

(c) the opportunity to showcase Sydney, it’s significant landmarks, such as the
Harbour, the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House & Australia, to the world;

(viii) drone shows are gradually becoming more common as alternatives to fireworks displays due to their minimal noise and environmental disruption. Between 2015 and 2018, Intel’s ‘Shooting Star’ drones have performed more than 300 shows in 16 countries;

(ix) notable drone show performances include the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2018 Fourth of July show in Aspen, Colorado, which was done as a safer alternative in the midst of a fire ban due to the North American wildfires;

(x) to date, there have been no large-scale drone shows that have been performed in

(xi) City staff have been working to introduce innovative elements that reduce the
environmental impact of the New Year’s Eve celebrations for many years, including
pylon projections, the use of lighting on the bridge, colour changing lighting on vessels to coincide with bridge lighting and lighting on the Luna Park ferris wheel; and

(xii) City staff are already investigating alternatives and complementary activities for future New Year’s Eve celebrations, including drones; and

(B) the Chief Executive Officer be requested to provide a report to Council comparing the cost and environmental impacts of drones and other technologies to the current fireworks display for future New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Pylon ‘projections’ were first introduced on NYE1998 as a laser display. For NYE2000, projections as we know them were introduced and projection mapping began on NYE2008. It is known though that one, and we stress, one factor in the Bridge Effect’s demise after NYE2014 was that pylon projection mapping was cheaper. The main factor was that the company that made the Bridge Effect went into liquidation. This was also the main reason for the re-introduction of the centrepiece Bridge light shows since NYE2015.

Bridge light shows have also been done on NYE2003, as a last minute alternative, when that year’s proposed Bridge Effect, Fanfare, went over time & budget. Fanfare appeared the following edition. Bridge light shows were also used on NYE1989, NYE1990, NYE2002, NYE2004 to NYE2008 & NYE2012

It is highly unlikely the fireworks would be cancelled permanently. They are, in fact, booked in for 2 more editions of Sydney New Year’s Eve at least.

Also, fireworks have also been a major staple of Sydney culture since the 19th century.

However, given a comparison rather than an investigation has been requested there is a more likelier chance than usual that fireworks could be replaced in 2022 by more environmentally sensitive and/or cheaper technologies. There are conflicting reports on whether drones are more expensive or cheaper than fireworks. We will investigate this further.

However, the chance of replacement at this stage is low. Complementing the fireworks is more likely currently.

On the 12th of September 2020, an election was to be held for the seat of the City Of Sydney’s Lord Mayor as well as the City’s councillors, who represent 1 whole ward.

The current Council consists of 10 members:

  • 6 Clover Moore Independent Team members (including Lord Mayor),
  • 2 Liberal members,
  • A Labor member and
  • A Sydney Matters Independent Team member

However, due to COVID-19, the election has been postponed by 1 year by the New South Wales Government.

Poignant Bushfire Tribute Centre Stage Of Australia Day In Sydney’s 1st Ever Sydney Opera House Projection Show & 1st Sydney Harbour Bridge Pyrotechnic Display Since 1988

Emotional images. No soundtrack. One type of firework.

And Sydney still knows how to capture our hearts.

An image of Australian solidarity.

There was no fireworks off the Sydney Opera House or Overseas Passenger Terminal this year. Nor was there a C-130 Hercules flyover & flare dispense (which would not have happened anyway due to that aircraft type being involved in a fatal crash whilst fighting fires in the Snowy Mountains/Australian Alps earlier this week).

But what we saw instead was still Sydney Spectacular: the 1st use of Sydney Opera House western sail projections during the event for the 1st time ever. It was also the 2nd usage of them during a Sydney Harbour fireworks display ever (the 1st being the International Fleet Review Spectacular in 2013).

Of particular note, was the 1st ever projection of the Aboriginal Flag on the Sydney Opera House.

The Australian Flag has been projected onto the Sydney Opera House once already. Again, during the International Fleet Review Spectacular in 2013.

Unlike the International Fleet Review Spectacular in 2013, as you might have realised by now, the eastern sails of the Sydney Opera House were not used for projections during ‘Australia Day Live 2020’. The eastern sails have only been ever used once (at the International Fleet Review Spectacular) so their non-usage is not a surprise given how rare there usage is.

Also, as a complete surprise, was the 1st usage of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for pyrotechnics on Australia Day since 1988, which was until today the only other time it used on Australia Day.

It briefly featured during a minute’s silence for the victims of the 2019/2020 bushfire season in Australia. Accompanied by the projection of the Australian flag on the Sydney Opera House’s western sails (despite 3 Americans also being killed fighting fires in the past week), only 1 firing of white stationary flares were used along the upper arch for the 1 sole minute of silence. A similar pyrotechnic effect was done during the 1988 show, though not in silence but the tunes of Banjo Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda:

The minute silence was also accompanied by the same pyrotechnic on jet-skis, the yachts (handheld on those vessels) as well as handheld on the Sydney Opera House’s Northern Forecourt. Handheld flares were held by State Emergency Service volunteers & crew members of the vessels on the Harbour.

The pyrotechnics were done by Foti Fireworks.

A separate Sydney Opera House western sails projection show was done as a tribute to all the firefighters, helpers & victims. It was set to True Blue by John Williamson, who also was there performing his iconic song. A moving and emotional tribute it was.

If you missed ‘Australia Day Live’, the full 2 hour event can be seen below. The minute silence featuring the Sydney Harbour Bridge pyrotechnics is at 01:07:18, barge fireworks begin from 0:31:57 and appear occasionally until the finale at 01:50:27 while the Sydney Opera House western sail projections begin with the Aboriginal Flag at 00:53:15 and run with varying projections till the show’s conclusion. The True Blue tribute projection show is at 01:38:51:

‘Australia Day Live’, which is completely focused on Circular Quay, is the concluding event of  ‘Australia Day In Sydney’.

We designated ‘Australia Day Live’ a ‘flagship’ Sydney Spectacular last year and it carried that status onto this year’s edition. This status means it is just as spectacular as Sydney New Year’s Eve & Vivid Sydney.

It is still a ‘made-for-television’ event though, which is it’s major flaw in terms of events. However, as a TV production, it is really well done. You can read more on our opinion on that in our article about last year’s edition.

Lastly for your information, here are some known milestones to look forward to this year:

  • Mid-March – Vivid Sydney 2020 media launch
  • 8:30pm 28 March – Earth Hour (Lights of landmarks are turned off for 1 hour)
  • 7:30pm, 27 March to 26 April – Handa Opera On Sydney Harbour: La Traviata (A nightly performance on Sydney Harbour complete with fireworks. Tickets on sale now)
  • 4 to 10 May – United Nations Global Road Safety Week (Yellow Sydney Harbour Bridge illumination)
  • 22 May to 13 June – Vivid Sydney
  • 28 September to 4 October – NRL Grand Final Week (Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projections)
  • 11 November – Remembrance Day (Projections of poppies on the Sydney Opera House)
  • 12 or 14 November – Diwali (Yellow-gold Sydney Opera House illumination)
  • 21 November to 26 December – Sydney Christmas (Christmas-themed projection & light shows with a few fireworks displays)
  • Early December – Sydney New Year’s Eve 2020 Media Launch
  • Mid December – Australia Day In Sydney 2021 Program Announced
  • Late December – Sydney New Year’s Eve 2020 White Bay Media Call
  • 31st December – Sydney New Year’s Eve 2020

The above may change as whilst most are annual events, some have not yet been formally announced as occurring this year.

And remember, nearly every night this year, you can see Badu Gili (a projection show on the Bennelong sail of the Sydney Opera House), occasional projection shows on the Australian National Maritime Museum & a light show on Luna Park Sydney’s Ferris Wheel. There are also occasional simple fireworks displays on Sydney Harbour including the regular Saturday night fireworks in Darling Harbour.

So until next time, goodbye!