Australia Day Sydney 2020 | Fireworks, events and more
Sydney's Aussie pride comes alive on 26 January 2020 for Australia Day. Onya, 'straya!
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Australia Day – it's the day when the First Fleet arrived in Port Jackson in 1788.
It's also a public holiday. And since it falls on a Sunday in 2020, that public holiday falls on Monday 27 January, which means we get a 3-day weekend.
Searching for more ideas and activities to fill up this no-work all-play day? We know a few.
Top things to do on Australia Day in Sydney
Australia Day Sydney fireworks
The acclaimed Australia Day fireworks are held in Circular Quay, which is where you will find the brunt of the day's celebrations.
Ahead of the pyrotechnics display, districts from Barangaroo to Darling Park will be overrun with celebration and festivities. It all kicks off at 8pm on 25 January at Barangaroo Reserve with an evening vigil of music, poetry and stories by Australia's Indigenous people. Stick around until Australia Day morning and you'll be able to witness a traditional WugulOra morning ceremony at 7.45am.
Over in The Rocks, the annual street party runs from 9am to 6pm on Australia Day. This is a breathtaking maritime, musical and dance extravaganza with an itinerary that includes an Oz Day 10km wheelchair race, a tall ships festival and a virtual photo booth that transports you to Australia prior to 1788.
The fireworks fill the sky from 9pm in a 15-minute demonstration of pyrotechnics, light installations, music and jet ski and flyboard prowess. Some of the best vantage points for the fireworks are First Fleet Park, Hickson Road Reserve, Circular Quay East, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Sydney Opera House western boardwalk and on a nearby cruise vessel.
|Fireworks vantage points||What's happening?||Food and drink|
|First Fleet Park||Warrane DJ stage from 12:30-6pm.||Food and drink for sale. No alcohol or glass.|
|Hickson Road Reserve||From 9am-6pm, The Rocks plays host to the official street party. This includes interactive games, roving performers and market stalls.||Food and drink in The Rocks. No alcohol or glass.|
|Circular Quay East||Australia Day Live 2020 entertainment from 6:30pm-9:30pm.||Food and drink for sale.|
|Overseas Passenger Terminal||Australia Day Chill Out Zone available from 10am-4pm.||Food and drink in The Rocks. No alcohol or glass.|
|Sydney Opera House western boardwalk||Live concert at the Opera House ticketed event from 6:30pm-9:30pm.||Food and drink for sale.|
Australia Day live at Sydney Opera House
Each Australia Day, the Opera House hosts a Live At Sydney Opera House concert in its forecourt.
This is a free though ticketed event that runs from 6:30pm–9:30pm and features some of Australia’s best-known artists.
In the past, this has included the soulful Kate Ceberano, the renowned Sydney Symphony Orchestra and rocker Jon Stevens.
Tickets are released on 15 January 2020 here.
What Australia Day celebrations are happening at Sydney Harbour?
On Saturday 26 January 2020, Sydney Harbour and its surrounds will host a variety of events. Highlights include the following:
- WugulOra Indigenous Morning Ceremony at 7:45am: Experience a traditional performance of song and dance to recognise the original custodians of our land.
- GIO Oz Day 10K Wheelchair Road Race at 8.45am: This is a ripping race on wheels through The Rocks.
- Ferrython at 10:45am: Enjoy the annual ferry race that runs between the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. See it from the water with a Ferrython cruise.
- Lord Mayor's Citizenship Ceremony at 10:30am: See the welcoming of Australia's newest citizens.
- Salute to Australia at 11:30am: The Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force pay tribute to our nation with a 21-gun salute, the national anthem, a handling display and the tug and yacht ballet on the water.
- Australia Day flyover at midday: Red Berets, Qantas and Russian Roolettes fly over Sydney Harbour.
- Australia Day Harbour Parade at 12:45pm: 40 boats decked to the nines party on the water vying for the honour of "best dressed?".
- Tall Ships' Race: Historic ships take to the water vying for the title of Tall Ships winner as they race from Bradleys Head to Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- Australia Day Regatta at 1:30pm: Now in its 183rd year, this regatta sees over 100 boats race around the harbour.
Throughout the day, there will also be festivals, activities and events in The Rocks, Barangaroo Reserve and the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
The best of the rest: Australia Day events and experiences in Sydney
Australia Day harbour cruises
The best seat in the house is on the water.
Just as with Sydney’s spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks, you can either stake your spot on the foreshore early to catch that moment when the colours dress the night sky, or you can book a spot on a cruise for prime positioning on the water.
Australia Day cruises run throughout the day as well as at night to catch the fireworks.
Tall Ships' Race
Witness historic vessels in the ultimate race across the harbour.
Australia's historic ships weigh anchor to cut across the harbour in a race to the finish line on Australia Day.
The race starts at 1pm at Bradleys Head and ends at Sydney Harbour Bridge, so you won’t be short on vantage points to capture the ships on the water. However, for a more intimate experience, book a tall ship cruise to sail alongside or in the race.
After the race, the tall ships will be available to marvel over at the Overseas Passenger Terminal from 2pm.
When else would you have the largest one-day celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders than on Australia Day?
Now in its 19th year, the Yabun Festival is an enriching celebration of the original custodians of our great land. Held in Victoria Park, Camperdown, on the traditional land of the Gadigal people, it features music and dance performances, panel discussions, child-friendly activities and market stalls.
More info: Yabun Festival
Westpac OpenAir Cinema
They don't call it the world's most beautiful cinema for nothing.
With views of Sydney Harbour behind the screen, you can't get much more Australian than this over the Australia Day weekend.
On Australia Day, the story of Australia's female jockey Ride Like A Girl will grace the big screen.
More info: Westpac OpenAir Cinema
Let the Sydney Festival entertain you this Australia Day.
One of the biggest and most colourful festivals on the Aussie calendar is the Sydney Festival. Running over three weeks from 8-26 January, it's a quirky program of dance, music, comedy and theatrical performances as well as interactive displays.
Australia Day serves up numerous themed events. Our picks? Head to Parramatta for a screening of Aussie flick Bran Nue Dae at Riverside Theatre. Or, witness the world premiere of The Visitors at Carriageworks. It's a historical play about that day in January 1788.
More info: Sydney Festival
Australia Day celebrations and activities for kids
Australia Day BBQ by the Bridge
Make the journey across the bridge to snag a spot at one big outdoor party.
Australia Day is the perfect excuse to bring the community together – and when you're in the North Shore, there's nowhere better than right under those famous coat-hanger wires.
The place to be is Bradfield Park and the cuisine on hand is absolutely everything. Because who says Australia Day should just be about snags on a barbie?
On top of the delicious food, there are stacks of kid-friendly activities. This includes a jumping castle, circus activities and live entertainment. Stick around until 9pm to catch picture-perfect views of the harbour as it lights up for those Australia Day fireworks.
More info: Australia Day BBQ by the Bridge
Australia Day in Parramatta
Quickly becoming Sydney's second CBD, Parramatta brings the Australia Day celebrations to the western suburbs with a busy day of food, music and fireworks.
Renowned for its family-friendly activities, 26 January in Parramatta is one jam-packed day. It starts at 6am and runs for a manic 15 hours.
This year's festivities include a hot air balloon display, CARnivale vintage car exhibition, amusement park rides, circus playground and tours of the Dairy Cottage Precinct.
Kid-friendly activities will be available all day and live music by local artists will play into the night.
The city’s fireworks spectacular kicks off at 9pm.
More info: Australia Day in Parramatta
Schedule in a family outing to the heart of the city for one of the best Australia Day children’s festivals.
From 11am, Darling Harbour will be bustling with fun-filled entertainment for kids of all ages with an endless round of true blue entertainment and games to the tune of a thong toss, a watermelon eating competition and roving performers.
While the little ones are being entertained, the big ones can peel away for a moment for the otherworldly experience of Dodecalis Luminarium. This exhibition is courtesy of the Sydney Festival and consists of mazes of tunnels and domes bathed in the magical glow of neon lights.
Top free things to do on Australia Day
- Host a barbecue: C'mon, it’s an Aussie tradition. Pick up some snags and a couple of six-packs and invite your mates over. Due to Sydney's fire ban, make sure you're meeting up-to-date barbeque requirements before you light up so you don't get fined.
- Bake on the beach: Australia Day is notorious for being one big swelter fest. The best way to cool down? At the beach, naturally.
- Catch the Sydney Harbour fireworks: When it comes to pyrotechnical displays, Sydney doesn’t hold back. So for a crackin’ good end to an awesome day out, don’t miss the 9pm fireworks at Sydney Harbour. They're early enough for even the kids to catch.
- Australia Day at The Rocks: The Rocks and its surrounds bustle with free activities throughout the day. This includes market stalls at The Rocks and a Chill Out Zone at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
Sydney restaurants and bars celebrating Australia Day
- Opera Bar: Soak up those views of Australia's icons while chowing down on Aussie inspired meals and drinks, listening to live music.
- The Golden Sheaf: Expect the Triple J Hottest 100 to soundtrack your day at the Sheaf's Beats & Eats event.
- The Clock Hotel: The weekend just keeps going with the Hottest 100 being played right until the wee hours of the morning. If you're still kicking on through Monday, Bloody Mary's will be on menu to help with that long weekend recovery.
Are shops open on Australia Day in Sydney?
Here are the major shopping centres that typically open on Australia Day public holiday (27 January) and their trading hours. Note these are subject to change.
- Westfield Pitt Street: 10am-6pm
- Westfield Bondi Junction: 10am-6pm
- Broadway Shopping Centre: 10am-6pm
- Westfield Warringah Mall: 10am-5pm
- Supa Centa Moore Park: 9am-5pm
- Westfield Miranda: 10am-6pm
- Chatswood Chase: 10am-5pm
- Westfield Chatswood: 10am-6pm
- Macquarie Centre: 10am-6pm
- Westfield Parramatta: 10am-6pm
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