Australia Day in Sydney

On 26 January, Sydney comes alive with locals celebrating the Aussie way of life right in the middle of summer. With events on the harbour, family festivities, boat races and a general vibrant, party atmosphere, there’s something for everyone.

A nod to the past

As the sun rises, connect with the world’s oldest living culture as First Nations artwork is projected on the Sydney Opera House and flags are raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Dawn Reflection.

This is followed by a cultural nod to our Indigenous past with the moving WugulOra Indigenous Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo, honouring the world’s oldest living culture. An exciting series of free activities spanning Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour, The Rocks and Darling Harbour come after, for those wanting to stick around for some more action.

Indigenous women at WugulOra, a ceremony celebrating Australia's traditional custodians on Australia Day

Indigenous women at WugulOra, a ceremony celebrating Australia's traditional custodians on Australia Day

On the water

Don’t miss the Ferrython race, one of Australia’s most iconic events, when Sydney's iconic yellow and green ferries race from Fort Denison to Shark Island and back to a glorious finish at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Spectators can watch the extravaganza on a boat cruise or cheer on their favourite ferry from a number of free onshore vantage spots including Milsons Point off Jeffrey St Wharf, Circular Quay and Lavender Bay.

From 1pm, catch Sydney's Tall Ships Race, which leads an impressive fleet of historic vessels from Bradley's Head to the Harbour Bridge. Join the crew aboard one of the historic tall ship vessels: Coral Trekker, Soren Larsen or Southern Swan. Alternatively, watch from dry land. The best vantage points to watch the race are Bradfield Park, Blues Point, Hickson Road Reserve, Overseas Passenger Terminal and the Sydney Opera House. Afterwards, the Australia Day Regatta — the world’s oldest continuously run annual sailing event — has over 100 boats race around the harbour for a boating spectacle like no other. 

Ferrython - Australia Day, Sydney Harbour


Family-friendly fun

Darling Harbour is a fantastic hive of activity for families on Australia Day, when it transforms into a summer playground. This year's line-up encompasses pedal boat rides on the harbour, putt putt, a Kids Electric Train, a water playground and countless places to eat and drink. Finish the day off with the Australia Day Live concert, broadcasted on the Tumbalong Park screens from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

In one of the oldest parts of Sydney, The Rocks, the annual and popular Australia Day street party kicks off with a vibrant carnival atmosphere. The historic cobblestone streets are overrun with market stalls brimming with local fashion, jewellery and crafts; gourmet food stalls and live music.

Australia Day in the Rocks

Australia Day in the Rocks

On the Vintage Bus Ride — run annually on Australia Day by the Sydney Bus Museum from morning until 5pm — all ages will have a ball travelling like it’s 1949 on a double-decker vintage bus from the Leichardt bus depot across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to St Leonards and back again.

Join Sydney locals and head to the beach for a barbecue picnic. You could take a hamper full of goodies to a harbour cove or fry up on one of the beautiful eastern beaches like Coogee or Bondi. Alternatively, Government Houseopens up its staterooms and gardens for the day, making a great place for a long lunch with live music.

Couple enjoying Camp Cove, Watsons Bay

Camp Cove, Watsons Bay

Concerts & festivals

In the evening, Australia Day Live kicks off at 7.30pm and showcases some of Australia’s best-loved performers. While the event is free, it’s ticketed. Held on the forecourt of Sydney Opera House with the iconic sails in the background and the harbour beyond — this is a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience.

Parramatta’s popular Australia Day celebrations are scheduled to return to Parramatta Park in 2024 with hot air balloon rides, delicious barbecue food, family-friendly activities and much more.

Parramatta’s popular Australia Day in the Crescent concert

Parramatta Park's popular Australia Day celebrations

Australia Day Harbourfest is an exciting lineup of free events and activities taking place on, above and around Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay. The all-day event includes the Royal Air Force Roulettes' aerial display and Great Aussie BBQ.

Head to Yabun Festival for the largest one-day gathering and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia. The free event in Victoria Park encompasses live music, bustling market stalls, panel discussions and community forums on Aboriginal issues, plus children’s activities, and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural performances.

Australia Day also falls on the final day of the Sydney Festival — a vibrant cultural celebration that boasts theatrical performances, dance, cabaret, music and big ideas. Check out the website to see what performances or events might be scheduled for Australia Day.

Concert during Sydney Festival at The Domain

Concert during Sydney Festival at The Domain

Public holiday dates 2023-2024

Holiday 2023 2024
New Year's Day Sunday 1 January (Additional day Monday, 2 January ) Monday 1 January
Australia Day Thursday 26 January Friday 26 January
Good Friday Friday 7 April Friday 29 March
Easter Saturday Saturday 8 April  Saturday 30 March 
Easter Sunday Sunday 9 April  Sunday 31 March 
Easter Monday  Monday 10 April  Monday 1 April 
Anzac Day  Tuesday 25 April  Thursday 25 April 
King's Birthday/June Long Weekend Monday 12 June Monday 10 June
October Long Weekend (Labour Day) Monday 2 October Monday 7 October
Christmas Day public holiday Monday 25 December Wednesday 25 December
Boxing Day Tuesday 26 December Thursday 26 December