Australia Day Sydney 2019 | Fireworks, events and more

Sydney's Aussie pride comes alive on 26 January 2019 for Australia Day. Onya, 'straya!

Australia Day. It's the day when the First Fleet arrived in Port Jackson in 1788. The day when Australia was founded. Our national day.

It's also a public holiday. And since it falls on a Saturday in 2019, that public holiday becomes Monday 28 January stretching out the weekend into a three-dayer.

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

  • Watch the fireworks over Sydney Harbour
  • Get tickets to Australia Day live at Sydney Opera House
  • Go on an Australia Day BBQ lunch or dinner cruise
  • See the tall ships race on the harbour
  • Celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with music and dance
  • Catch a film at St George Openair Cinema
  • Join the festivities at Sydney Festival

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Image: Australiaday.com

Australia Day Sydney fireworks

The acclaimed Australia Day fireworks returns to Circular Quay this year which is where the brunt of the day's celebrations are being held.

A street party overtakes The Rocks from 11:30am-6:30 pm when the Australia Day Live 2019 celebration begins. This is a breathtaking maritime, musical and dance extravaganza with an itinerary that includes interviews with the Australians of the Year, the inaugural Sydney Cove Cup race, sunset ceremony featuring Koomurri dancers and special performance by an Australian musical great.

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 midday-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 2019 entertainment from 6:30pm-9:30pm. Food and drink for sale.
Overseas Passenger Terminal Australia Day Chillout 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 7:30pm-9:30pm. Food and drink for sale.

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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 7:30pm–9:30pm and features some of Australia’s best known artists includes the soulful Kate Ceberano, the renowned Sydney Symphony Orchestra, rocker Jon Stevens, funk instrumentalist and vocalist Harts and more. Tickets are released on 16 January 2019 here.


What Australia Day celebrations are happening at Sydney Harbour?

On Saturday 26 January 2019, Sydney Harbour and its surrounds will host a variety of events. Highlights include:

  • Wugulora Indigenous Morning Ceremony at 7:45am: A traditional performance of song and dance to recognise the original custodians of our land.
  • GIO Oz Day 10K Wheelchair Road Race at 9am: A ripping race through The Rocks on wheels.
  • Ferrython at 10:45am: An annual ferry race that runs between the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  • Lord Mayor's Citizenship Ceremony at 10:30am: 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 11:50am: 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?".
  • 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

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Image: Sydney.com

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 could either stake your spot on the foreshore all day long to catch that breathtaking moment when the colours dress the night sky, or you could 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.

Book an Australia Day harbour cruise


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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.


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Yabun Festival

When else would you have the largest one-day celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders than on Australia Day?

Now in its 18th year, the Yabun Festival is an enriching and entertaining 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


St. George 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 too much more Australian like this over the Australia Day weekend. There's no screening on Australia Day (there are other events going on in the area afterall) but on Australia Day public holiday (28 January) will be a screening of Destroyer featuring our own Nicole Kidman. The following day (29 January) the cinema is screening Ladies in Black which is based on department store employers in Sydney.

More info: St George Openair Cinema


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Sydney Festival

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 9-27 January, it' a quirky program of dance, music, comedy and theatrical performances as well as interactive displays.

On Australia Day artspaces are on show throughout the city, including at Barrangaroo, Darling Harbour, Woolloomooloo and Paddington.

More info: Sydney Festival


Australia Day celebrations and activities for kids

Major suburbs and councils hold local celebrations on Australia Day. Here are some of the most family-friendly.

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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 and atmosphere, 26 January in Parramatta is a jam-packed day that starts at 6am and runs for a manic 15-hours. This year's festivities includes a hot air balloon display, CARnivale vintage car exhibition and big barbecue in Parramatta Park.

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


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Tumbalong Park

Schedule in a family outing to the heart of the city for one of the best Australia Day children’s festivals.

From 10am, 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, watermelon eating competition, circus workshops and roving performers.

When you're ready, wiggle on down to Tumbalong Park at 11am for the annual The Wiggles concert and stick around for The Vegetable Plot, The Beanies and Big Science.

Then, stick around past 3pm when the park transforms into an adult's playground for the afternoon sessions. Craft beer will flow and DJs and live musicians will entertain no end with party favourites to keep everyone jumping.

More info: Australia Day Sydney


Top free things to do on Australia Day

  • Host a barbecue: C'mon, it’s an Aussie tradition. Pick up some snags and a mountain of six-packs from your local and invite your mates over.
  • 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. Take its New Year’s Eve spectacular as case in point. So for a crackin’ good end to an awesome day out, don’t miss the 9pm fireworks at Sydney Harbour – early enough for even the kids to catch it.
  • Australia Day at The Rocks: The Rocks and its surrounds will be bustling with free activities throughout the day. This includes market stalls at The Rocks, the This Is Australia culinary and musical event at Barangaroo Reserve and a Chillout Zone at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Are shops open on Australia Day in Sydney?

Here are the major shopping centres that typically open on Australia Day and their public holiday trading hours. Note these are subject to change.

  • Westfield Pitt Street: 10am-6pm
  • Westfield Bondi Junction: 10am-6pm
  • Broadway Shopping Centre: 10am-6pm
  • Supa Centa Moore Park: 9am-5pm
  • Westfield Warringah Mall: 10am-5pm
  • Westfield Miranda: 10am-6pm
  • Westfield Parramatta: 10am-6pm
  • Chatswood Chase: 10am-5pm
  • Westfield Chatswood: 10am-6pm
  • Macquarie Centre: 10am-6pm

Feature image: Australia Day in New South Wales

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