World Class Events A Magnet For Overseas Visitors

Sydney’s world class events are a major draw-card for overseas visitors with new statistics showing half those attending hail from the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Germany & other parts of Europe.

Well over a million people attended last year’s Sydney New Year’s Eve & according to leading research analysts Stollznow, more than 46% travelled from overseas specifically to attend the event & stayed in Sydney for an average of 7.4 nights – 32% in central Sydney.

In addition to this, almost 90% of visitors in Sydney during New Year’s Eve said they came specifically for the event & had attended the event multiple times in previous years.

Sydney has retained its status as ‘New Year’s Eve Capital Of The World’, in terms of visitor numbers as well as the millions watching across Australia & a billion people watching around the globe.

The City is working in partnership with the New South Wales (NSW) Government to ensure Sydney New Year’s Eve remains the world’s best New Year’s Eve party.

The Sydney Chinese New Year Festival has also become the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside Asia with more than a million visitors this year attending more than 70 events over 16 days – an increase of 67% on 2015.

And this year’s festive season will see a host of new trees, decorations, light installations & events as part of a new creative vision for Sydney Christmas aiming to attract even more residents, visitors & shoppers to the city centre.

“Sydney New Year’s Eve is one of the world’s biggest 1-night events, generating more than $130 million annually in direct economic impact for NSW,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“It’s fantastic to see our New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year & Christmas celebrations inspiring so many people from all around the world to visit Sydney,”

“Working closely with government helps us deliver world-class events for millions of people every year,”

“The City also supports seasonal celebrations with Christmas concerts, streets decorations, light installations, retail events and community grants & the new designs planned from 2016 will encourage more people to celebrate Sydney Christmas across our local area.”

In February, the City called for 3 tenders for new Christmas decorations, projections, light installations & sculptures around the city as well as new Pitt Street Mall Christmas activations for 2016.

An expression of interest for Sydney Christmas 2017–2021 was released in March seeking an innovative creative direction for the Martin Place Christmas Tree, decorations, artworks & events that will transform the new pedestrian sections of George Street & attract thousands more families and shoppers to the city centre.

“The City is looking for ideas for 2017-2021 that propose an array of visual technologies or techniques in various Sydney locations that will attract & delight audiences and visitors to our city” the Lord Mayor added.

Media Release: City Of Sydney

Painting The Town Red For Sydney Chinese New Year Festival

In an historic first, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Town Hall, Circular Quay Railway Station & the Capitol Theatre will be illuminated red to mark the 2016 Chinese New Year & welcome in the Year Of The Monkey.

The City Of Sydney is pleased to announce Westpac as principal partner of the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival for the next 2 years & together they are painting the town red.

The world-famous iconic structures including the sails of the Sydney Opera House will glow the lucky red colour for 3 nights from the Festival Launch on Saturday the 6th of February through to Chinese New Year’s Eve on Sunday the 7th of February & Chinese New Year’s Day on Monday the 8th of February.

“Bathing the Sydney Opera House & the Harbour Bridge in red light welcomes good fortune for the Year Of The Monkey & is the perfect way to launch one of the biggest Lunar New Year celebrations outside of China,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“This unique red gateway symbolises Sydney’s role as Australia’s international gateway, with world class tourism, infrastructure, icons & amenities.

“We’re delighted to welcome Westpac as the largest corporate partner of the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival & I invite everyone to visit the city, see these wonderful buildings light up for the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival and enjoy the many events & performances including the Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub.”

To broaden the red make-over from the harbourside, Sydney Town Hall along with the Capitol Theatre will be illuminated for the entire Festival & visitors to the city will be invited to step into another world beneath a swaying ceiling of glowing lanterns in Martin Place where you can meet up with friends, grab a drink and bite to eat at the Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub.

In Chinese culture, red symbolises good fortune & joy. It is believed to be an auspicious colour for warding off evil & also represents vitality and celebration.

The Sydney Chinese New Year Festival attracts more than 600,000 local & international visitors to Sydney, making it one of the most popular events in Sydney’s calendar & a boost to the local economy.

The City’s Sydney Chinese New Year Festival 2016 curator, Claudia Chan Shaw said lighting the Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House is symbolic of creating a new red gateway to the city, welcoming the new Festival format & its expansion across the city.

“Lighting these iconic buildings sets the scene for a uniquely Sydney-style Chinese New Year on a global scale,” Claudia said.

“Following the enormous success of the 2015 Lanterns Of The Terracotta Warriors exhibition at Dawes Point, the new red gateway lighting along with the new Lunar Lanterns across the city & the Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub will ensure the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival is bigger and better than ever.”

“We’re delighted to celebrate these important ties by partnering with the City Of Sydney for the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival & to wish you success, prosperity and good luck in the Year Of The Monkey. Kung Hei Fat Choy!” said Westpac Group CEO, Brian Hartzer.

The Sydney Chinese New Year Festival will run from the 6th–21st of February. The Festival will include favourite events like the Dragon Boat Races, Lunar Feasts & more than 80 associated events.

The red light projections times & dates:

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House & Circular Quay Railway Station – Saturday the 6th to Monday the 8th of February, from 8pm until Midnight.
  • Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub, Martin Place – Saturday the 6th to Sunday the 14th of February, from 8pm until Midnight.
  • Capitol Theatre, courtesy of The Sound of Music & Sydney Town Hall – Saturday the 6th to Sunday the 21st of February, from 8pm until Midnight.

One of the highlights of this year’s Festival will be Lunar Lanterns running from the 6th–14th February. For more information, visit


Media Release: City Of Sydney

Sydney Spectaculars – Season 2016!

Want to see Sydney in all it’s glory? Check out our 2016 season of ‘Sydney Spectaculars’! Here is what is happening so far this year:

26 January 2016 – Australia Day In Sydney

A day to celebrate the cultures of the Australian continent with many events throughout the day from ocean swims and indigenous ceremonies to concerts and wheelchair races – this is the day Sydney shines. This year will feature 3 pyrotechnic displays (the most since 1989) at locations around Sydney Harbour such as Darling Harbour, Circular Quay & off Bradley’s Head. If you’re not in Sydney, you can watch ‘Australia Day 2016 – Live At Sydney Opera House’ (which could feature the Circular Quay fireworks)live on Channel Ten from 7:30pm AEDT* on Australia Day!

5 February 2016 To 5 March 2016 – Month Of Love

‘Loved-Up’ Fireworks light up Darling Harbour every Saturday night while events with a love theme make the month-long event ‘lovely’ in Darling Harbour!

6–21 February 2016 – Chinese New Year

In an historic first, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay Railway Station, Sydney Town Hall and the Capitol Theatre will all be illuminated red to mark Chinese New Year and to welcome the Year Of The Monkey. Check out the new ‘Lunar Lanterns’ placed around the city too. A small fireworks display on 6 February near Dawes Point will coincide with the switching on of the red lighting of the iconic Sydney structures to welcome in the new Chinese year!

19 March 2016 – Earth Hour

Created in Sydney, Earth Hour now occurs around the world. This ‘spectacular’ sees the lights of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House turn off for 1 hour to convey a practical message on the environment. Head down to the Sydney Harbour foreshore and have a candle-lit picnic or attend one of the organised Earth Hour events around Sydney! If you’re not in Sydney, participate at home by turning your lights off for 1 hour at 8:30pm!

24 March 2016 to April 24 2016 – Handa Opera On Sydney Harbour: ‘Turandot’

A temporary open air opera theatre on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour with the iconic view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House in the background. With dazzling sets, a performance worthy of a standing ovation and a spectacular fireworks display to top it off, this is a once in a lifetime experience for anyone but spaces are limited so book your tickets now!

27 May 2016 to 13 June 2016 – Vivid Sydney

Famous for their Sydney Opera House projection shows, the LED light show on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as the many projection shows and light displays on the ‘Light Walk’, Vivid Sydney is now just as big as Sydney NYE. 2016 will see the introduction of the Royal Botanic Gardens into the festivities for the 1st time as a nod to the 200th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Also featuring live music and creative industry events, this is a once in a lifetime experience for anyone from outside of Sydney.

Darling Harbour usually also features a special pyrotechnic/laser/projection/water show frequently throughout Vivid Sydney but this is not confirmed yet.

2-17 July 2016 – Cool Yule

Darling Harbour transforms into a snowy wonderland while ‘Frosty’ Fireworks light up the night sky each Saturday night!

21 October 2016 – Sydney Opera House Diwali Spectacular

Watch the Sydney Opera House light up in yellow/orange/golden colours to celebrate Diwali!

26 November 2016 to 25 December 2016 – Sydney Christmas/Santa Fest

Featuring projections in Martin Place and on St Mary’s Cathedral & the Sydney Town Hall, Sydney Christmas brings the spirit of Christmas to Sydney in truly spectacular style. Check out the lighting ceremony of the massive interactive Christmas Tree in Martin Place, which features fireworks, for a truly magical night! Maybe Santa Claus will turn up? Darling Harbour also has Christmas-themed events including fireworks as part of their ‘Santa Fest’.

31 December 2016/1 January 2017 – Sydney New Year’s Eve

The grand finale of ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ – the original, biggest and best – Sydney NYE, the world’s biggest annual and most technologically advanced fireworks displays in the world! Without a doubt, this is a once in a lifetime experience for anyone from outside of Sydney.

That is all?

No! Many other ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ may occur throughout the year such as more Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge pylon projection shows but these other ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ are usually announced with short notice so keep an eye out on our blog if one gets announced unexpectedly!

What if there is no ‘Spectacular’ on when I visit?

Pyrotechnic displays frequently occur on Sydney Harbour so check our countdowns on the side of our blog to check when the next one is and where the most iconic view of the display is! Darling Harbour has general fireworks every Saturday night when they don’t have a ‘Spectacular’ on.

*Check your local guides for broadcast times outside of New South Wales.