Australia Day 2023 - Must-See Events & Activities

Another day, another dawn – Sydney finally welcomed the New Year in true Aussie fashion and further strengthened its position as one of the leading global celebrators of New Year’s Eve. 

The electricity and flamboyance of the holidays may have toned down a bit, but Sydney is far from settling down in the new year! Australia Day, the first major celebration in 2023, is amped up to be one of the biggest celebrations in recent years with all its much loved traditions and events making a huge comeback. 

A mid-week summer break – Australia Day 2023 falls on a Thursday, and there are many ways to be a part of the national day celebrations. From sunrise to sundown, and into the night, here’s a low-down on some of the must-see events in Sydney.

WugulOra Morning Ceremony

With ‘Reflect, Respect, and Celebrate’ encouraged to be at the core of all celebrations, there’s no better way to start Australia Day than with the WugulOra Morning Ceremony. Rise with the sun for this ancient smoking ceremony, which is a tribute to the Gadigal people of the land – a reminder that the First Nation’s people are the gatekeepers to the land’s oldest continuous culture. Through captivating music, dance, story-telling and other ceremonies, you get to be part of a 20-year old tradition!

Ferrython & Tall Ships Race 

Every year since 1977, Sydney Harbour has played host to one of the most iconic Australia day events – the Ferrython. Be there as Sydney’s Emerald-class ferries line up for an epic race from Fort Denison, around Shark Island and back to the finish line under the Bridge. Another mesmerising event for the whole family to enjoy is the Tall Ships Race, where an iconic fleet of historic timber tall ships take off from Breadley’s Head and race to the finish under the Harbour Bridge. 

There are several onshore vantage points such as Bradley Park, Blues Point, Opera House and Hickson Road Reserve, but for a unique perspective of both the races book one of the best Australia Day cruises on the harbour. These popular cruises are also the perfect option if you feel like avoiding the crowds.

Maritime Mayhem 

An exhibition of outrageously choreographed stunts and tricks performed by powerful, agile machines on the water – sounds familiar? The Maritime Mayhem is making its much-awaited comeback to Australia Day 2023 in an all-out, high-voltage display of skills and stunts, synchronised to a brilliant soundtrack! If you’ve never seen a jetski do a burnout on the water, head to The Quay and watch it live! 

Australia Day Live 

The evening of Australia Day is just as extravagant as the day, pulling out all the stops for a spectacular finale to our national day! With incredible lights, sounds, on-water action, and a fireworks display, Sydney Harbour transforms into a magnificent stage of unending entertainment. Kicking off at 7.30pm, the Australia Day Live is held at the forecourt of Sydney Opera House, with its awe-inspiring sails and the harbour lights as backdrop!

A truly unmissable experience for people of all ages, the concert takes place both on land and water, and features live acts from famous Aussie stars choreographed to a flotilla of yachts, a lit vessel parade, acrobatic display of jet-skiers and flyboarders and a kaleidoscopic fireworks show! Since this is an outdoor event, tens of thousands of revellers are likely to swarm the Opera House foreshore and surrounds. For a more unique and comfortable viewing experience of Australia Day Live, a dinner cruise on the harbour waters is your go-to.

Throughout the day there are loads of fun ways to keep yourself and the whole family engaged. Choose to spend this national day wisely and let it be a chance to reconnect with the true roots of this land and culture.