Melbourne's Big New Year Bang (for Free!)
When it comes to New Year's Eve in Melbourne, the city focuses on fireworks. The waterfront goes off with a bang, and we'll show you where to go for peak visual impact.
Each year, the planning starts months in advance. It's practically mandatory, when you're talking about eight tons of pyrotechnics being set off during a 10-minute interval in perfect synchronicity with a soundtrack created for the event. Which is exactly what happens each year in the Victorian capital of Melbourne, to commemorate its New Year's. If you're in town for the holidays, we've got the scoop on where to go to see it all.
The city spends close to $2 million on an elaborate fireworks display to create a spectacle for not only the 550,000 or so people who arrive for the celebrations, but also anyone who has a view of the city skyline. A majority of the launch sites for the fireworks are at the tops of some of Melbourne's tallest buildings—Eureka Tower, for example—which means that on a clear night, the show can be seen from as far away as the Dandenong Ranges, about 20 miles east of the Central Business District.
There are four official live sites from where to enjoy the festivities for free: at Docklands, Flagstaff Gardens, Treasury Gardens and the Kings Domain, although unofficially, the crowds also tend to gather along the Yarra River, particularly near Federation Square—where there's a free concert featuring world music and soul artists—and neighboring Birrarung Marr. Entertainment starts at 9 p.m., with an early evening fireworks display, music, and food. Bringing a blanket and picnic is encouraged, but the official sites are alcohol-free for the entire night.
For those who can't be bothered with the hassle of the crowds (although there is free public transport in Melbourne all night), there are some great vantage points for watching the skyline bling. Northcote is one of the inner-north suburbs famous for its live music scene, and, at Ruckers Hills on High Street, it also offers one of the few elevations in this part of town.
Other places to head include Yarra Boulevard in Kew and, for a completely different experience, the Docklands fireworks are visible from Green Point at Brighton Beach. This is also one of Melbourne's more well-to-do neighborhoods, so there are often impressive pyro displays from private functions.
Those enjoying the holiday season on the Mornington Peninsula, 45 minutes south of Melbourne's CBD, should head to Arthurs Seat. From this peak 1,000 feet above sea level, there are views to the fireworks in Melbourne, Geelong, and Frankston.
Carrie Hutchinson lives in Melbourne and covers the city for Travel + Leisure.