Thousands Descend On Sydney Harbour In NYE Countdown

31/12/2015 11:11 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Fairfax Media/Cole Bennetts

Revellers are flocking to Sydney Harbour to nab prime positions for tonight's New Year's Eve extravaganza, with over a million people tipped to ring in 2016 around the Emerald City's foreshore.

More than 13 hours out from the midnight countdown, thousands of spectators have snagged some of the best waters-edge spots ahead of what promises to be Sydney's biggest NYE fireworks display on record.

Elsewhere around the country, high temperatures and high fire risk prompted warnings for revellers to take care.

Barbara, from the NSW central coast, was one of those who managed to grab a front row view of the Harbour Bridge in the countdown to midnight.

"It's really excellent watching it on television but there's nothing like being here," she told Channel Seven on Thursday morning. "It's just so exciting to have the fireworks falling down on top of you."

The forecast is looking positive for Sydney, with the city set for a near-perfect evening and a maximum temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. There had been fears earlier in the week that rainy conditions could have been in store for the city's annual night-of-nights.

The organisers for tonight's celebrations are vowing to deliver a "bigger and better" spectacular than ever before.

Around 100,000 fireworks are set to explode across the harbour and for the first time both sides of the coat-hanger's pillars will be lit up, with an extra 2400 fireworks erupting from the iconic structure.

New effects are also set to illuminate the Sydney Opera House, helping to transform the harbour into a "kaleidoscope of colour".

Seven tonnes of fireworks -- including 11,000 shells, 25,000 shooting comets and 100,000 individual fireworks -- are set to be used in the massive NYE display that has taken a year and a quarter to organise.

The event's organiser Aneurin Coffey said Sydney's cultural diversity would be a focus for the spectacle.

"They can expect a fantastic show from one of the best societies in the world," he told the ABC on Thursday morning. "The theme this year is that Sydney is a city of colour. We're talking about the unique and diverse city we live in and really celebrating that diversity."

He said 1,500 would be working on the event tonight, and admitted to some nerves in the lead up.

"You wouldn't be human if in the lead up to midnight you weren't a little bit nervous about what was going to happen," Coffey added.

The 9pm fireworks will feature flora- and fauna-inspired fireworks in a sparkling tribute to the 200th year of Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden and 100 years of Taronga Zoo, before what's billed as a "spectacular" surprise for the 12-minute display.

Sydney Harbour Program of Events:

  • 6pm & 8pm -- Air displays above Sydney Harbour
  • 7.00pm -- Tug boat water display
  • 8.30pm -- Pylon projections on both sides of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • 8.40pm -- Welcome to Country Ceremony
  • 9.00pm -- Family fireworks
  • 9.15pm -- Harbour of Light Parade
  • 12am -- Midnight fireworks

Artists including Rhoda Roberts, design studio Province and fashion designers Romance Was Born have been tasked with the creative vision for the night.

There will be 17 harbourside vantage points for spectators to take in the fireworks, including a site at the recently opened Barangaroo precinct that can fit 10,000 people. The bad news is it's already sold out.

The man who has seven generations of family experience in fireworks, Fortunato Foti, is again helming the pyrotechnic fiesta. He says tonight's plans for Sydney harbour are the most intricate he has ever worked on.


The Sydney Harbour Bridge will be the focus of NYE 2015 and feature more fireworks than ever.

While Sydney's knees-up often hogs the limelight, it's far from the only impressive NYE show around the nation, with events scheduled in all capital cities.

Melbourne's gearing up for a sweltering NYE, with the mercury tipped to hit 39 degrees before a cool change sweeps through.

Conditions in the mid-20s are forecast for midnight when about 450,000 are expected to take in the city's fireworks display.

Meanwhile, in South Australia most of the state is under total fire bans due to extreme conditions.

"We want everyone to have a happy new year, but more importantly, to be safe," Country Fire Service Rob Samford said.

"There are 11 total fire bans across South Australia today out of our 15 districts so that's the majority of the state. One of our big concerns for New Year's Eve are fireworks."

He said penalties of $5,000 would be handed out to those letting off backyard crackers.

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