Darling Harbour’s ‘Australia Day Spectacular’ Relocated To Circular Quay In Surprise Move

It began in 1989 and in 1990, became the centrepiece fireworks display of Australia Day In Sydney & 27 years later in 2017 moved locations with confirmation coming in a 9th of October 2017 media release ironically titled ‘Darling Harbour To Benefit From Bigger, Brighter Australia Day 2018’  that the ‘Australia Day Spectacular’ will be relocated:

Sydney’s annual fireworks display, ‘The Australia Day Spectacular’, has a new home this coming year in Circular Quay with ‘Live At The Quay!’ becoming part of the live broadcast of the ‘Australia Day In Sydney 2018 – Live At Sydney Opera House’ concert on Channel 10.

The “bigger, brighter” positive changes to Darling Harbour’s Australia Day In Sydney celebrations are the addition of an extra The Wiggles concert & an “enhanced entertainment program” as part of the Children’s Festival.

Since 2014…

In 2014, Australia Day In Sydney re-introduced fireworks on Sydney Harbour for the 1st time since 1988 as part of the P&O cruise ships appearance. This continued until 2016.

Also in 2016, a new nationally-televised concert titled Australia Day – Live At Sydney Opera House was introduced which featured a fireworks display in Circular Quay at it’s conclusion. This was the 1st nationally-televised Australia Day In Sydney fireworks display since 1988 & the most fireworks displays held as part of Australia Day In Sydney (3 – Darling Harbour, Athol Bay & Circular Quay) since 1989.

2017 saw 2 fireworks displays (Darling Harbour & Circular Quay) & the un-eventuated rumour of green & gold projections on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons & the Sydney Opera House.

No doubt the trend showed fireworks in Sydney Harbour on Australia Day were going to become a regular and more major occurrence but removing Darling Harbour’s fireworks altogether was far off the horizon in our eyes until that October media release.

This leaves New Year’s Eve & Vivid Sydney as the only events where you can watch fireworks in Darling Harbour. With Vivid‘s future currently looking possibly bleak, it could mean fireworks in Darling Harbour could be reduced to 1 day a year soon compared to 2016 when fireworks were a weekly occurrence.

This sudden reduction may be due to the Harbourside Shopping Centre (they had put on the weekly Saturday night fireworks) putting their revenue into something with more return on investment or maybe with a lot of development occurring around Darling Harbour (Hotels, apartments etc.) the New South Wales (NSW) Government has put restrictions on fireworks usage in Darling Harbour?

A cynical person could say the reduced fireworks frequency is to increase prices of apartments, hotels etc. around Darling Harbour by providing a more quieter night-time experience for residents/guests despite Darling Harbour originally being designed as a tourism area.

Back to the event though, Darling Harbour has a capacity of 40,000 people while the combined vantage points for Circular Quay is around 100,000 people. However, with the fireworks in Circular Quay rather than in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge some views might be obscured due to the ferry wharves & the Australia Day 2018 – Live At Sydney Opera House concert (which would also act as a mental barrier to the north-western areas of the Sydney Opera House).

The hosts of the Australia Day 2018 – Live At Sydney Opera House concert are Grant Denyer and Sandra Sully & they will introduce musical artists, Anthony Callea, Marcia Hines, Christine Anu, Guy Sebastian, John Paul Young, Casey Donovan & Dami Im to the stage.

The Australia Day 2018 – Live At Sydney Opera House concert is also ticketed by ballot with the ballot closing back on the 18th of January.

The theme for Australia Day In Sydney 2018 is Everyone, Every Story. Organisers are expecting record attendance.

‘Live At The Quay!’

2018 sees Circular Quay being the main home of the Australia Day In Sydney fireworks with the new Live At The Quay event which features the well-known Australia Day Spectacular.

Pre-fireworks entertainment includes:

  • 6:30pm: The Australian Army Band
  • 7pm: Heritage & Working Boat Parade: Features ‘Australians Of The Year’ Interviews
  • 7:30pm: Welcome To Country & Sydney Cove Cup

The fireworks are likely fired from 5 barges & will feature ground display and 100mm aerial shell fireworks all produced by Foti International Fireworks. To compare, Sydney New Year’s Eve (Sydney NYE), since 2007, has featured 300mm aerial shell fireworks.

We are also trialling a new Fireworks Spectacular rating system this year & based on what we know, for these fireworks displays, from the Sydney Opera House vantage point, we are giving it a rating of 300 while on a boat on Sydney Harbour, a maximum rating of 555. For comparison, an average fireworks display would receive a rating of 125 whilst Sydney NYE’s rating would be in the tens or hundreds of thousands.

The fireworks entertainment includes:

  • 8pm: Djapana –  This would be similar to Sydney New Year’s Eve’s ‘Welcome To Country’. Featuring Koomurri Dancers, KARI singers, Sydney’s new ferry fleet & fireworks, it includes a tribute to Dr G Yunupingu & a performance of Djapana, a Yothu Yindi song.
  • 8:30pm: Journey To Become Australian – Accompanied by a yacht ballet, jet skis, a lighting display & fireworks, opera musical pieces are sung by Lorenzo Rositano & choir in a tribute to opera as we explore the journeys that our newest citizens have taken to become Australians.
  • 9pm: ‘Legendary Australian Musician’ Performance: Anthony Callea? Marcia Hines? Christine Anu? Guy Sebastian? John Paul Young? Casey Donovan? Dami Im? Who will it be? Accompanied by drag artists from the Broken Heel Festival, it is a musical performance, most likely by Christine Anu, set to fireworks.
  • 9:15pm: Australia Day Spectacular – Set to an Australian soundtrack sung live, a massive fireworks display with a jet ski & fly board performance.

With the Australia Day Spectacular now in Circular Quay, this means for the 1st time ever, Australians can watch it in full on television (TV) due to it being held in conjunction with the Australia Day 2018 – Live At Sydney Opera House concert.

It is on Channel 10/WIN between 7:30pm & 9:30pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time. Check your local guides for broadcast times outside of NSW.

Simply, like the Australia Day In Sydney website says:

If you’re mad about fireworks, Circular Quay is the place to be this Australia Day.

Note: This post updates as more information becomes available.