22 December 2023

Nine ways to celebrate New Year's Eve in the Illawarra

| Dione David
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Evening at Wollongong beach

There are so many ways to say “So long, 2023” in the Illawarra – but here are nine of the best. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

As we rally to say a collective farewell to 2023 in our beautiful neck-o-the-woods, the Illawarra has lined up a diverse array of celebrations.

Whether you’re looking for an elegant soiree, family-friendly carnival vibes and early mark, or to party hard into the wee hours, there’s something for you.

Here are our top-nine picks for New Year’s Eve celebrations in our region.

Fireworks in Wollongong

There will be several good vantage points when fireworks light up the night sky over Wollongong Harbour at 9 o’clock. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

NYE in the ‘Gong

When: Sunday, 31 December, from 5 pm to 9:15 pm
Where: Wollongong Harbour, Wollongong
Cost: Free entry.

This year’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Wollongong will be memorable, with fireworks, music, entertainment and food trucks along the harbour and a carnival in Lang Park that will run for two weeks over the school holidays. Kicking off at 5 pm, there will be music, activities and roving performers. Be sure to grab your spot at any number of good vantage points when fireworks light up the night sky over the harbour at 9 o’clock, including along Cliff Road and Marine Drive.

Flyer for Dance Through the Decades NYE party at The Imperial at Clifton

Come on baby, let’s do the twist. Image: The Imperial at Clifton Facebook.

Dance Through the Decades @ The Imperial

When: Sunday, 31 December, 7 pm to 12:30 am
Where: The Imperial Clifton, 315 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Clifton
Cost: General $99, groups of four or more $89 per person, book here.

Buckle up as an unforgettable night of grazing, drinking and dancing through the decades takes over Imperial Dining Room. You’ll be greeted with a cocktail on arrival while We Play Records transports you to decades gone by, from the ’60s to the ’80s. You’ll enjoy substantial canapes, grazing stations and desserts through the night while the host rallies the crowds in competitions and the chance to win prizes, including for best dressed. So don your best outfit inspired by your favourite era and bring your A game to the dance floor.

Please note the Imperial Express + Co will be making stops along the Imperial Express trail, including train stations along the way – but make sure you book.

Banner for New Years Eve 90s Boom Shake The Room at Wests Illawarra

Stop! Hammer time! Image: Wests Illawarra.

New Year’s Eve at Wests Illawarra

When: Sunday, 31 December, from 8 pm
Where: Wests Illawarra, Hargreaves Street, Unanderra
Cost: $20, book here.

If you’re a ’90s child, nothing gets you into the party mood like the best hits from the best era. Join the ultimate ’90s tribute act Boom Shake the Room as they bring iconic ’90s hits that will reel you onto the dance floor. Your ticket includes a cocktail on arrival and food is available at Artisan before the show. So grab your crew and get ready for hits from Backstreet Boys to Britney on a night when double denim is not simply accepted – it’s celebrated.

Please note, this is an over-18s event with no reserved seating.

Banner for Superheroes NYE party at The Shellharbour Club

Assemble your super squad and get ready for NYE family style. Image: The Shellharbour Club Facebook.

NYE Superhero Event – The Shellharbour Club

When: Sunday, 31 December, from 6 pm
Where: Precinct, The Shellharbour Club, Cnr Wattle and Shellharbour roads, Shellharbour
Cost: Free entry.

The Shellharbour Club invites the whole family to suit up and start 2024 with a Pow! Assemble your super squad and get ready for a night of fun. There will be entertainment galore for your little heroes, including airbrush tattoo artists, roving superheroes, superhero movies, superhero show bags, food and drink specials, and a 9 pm countdown. Kids aged 12 and under are invited to enter the mini heroes dress-up competition – they simply dress in their favourite superhero costume, register by 5 pm at the merchandise cart and participate in the Dress-Up Parade at Precinct for a chance to win tickets to Jamberoo Action Park.

It’s worth noting that The Lounge at The Shellharbour Club will be “Taking it Back to the ’80s” from about 6 pm as well.

Flyer for Midnight Soiree at The Waterfront Tavern

Hit up The Waterfront Tavern for a sophisticated NYE celebration. Image: The Waterfront Tavern.

New Year’s Eve Midnight Soiree at The Waterfront Tavern

When: Sunday, 31 December, 5:30 pm to 6 pm or 8 pm to late
Where: The Waterfront Tavern, 9 Marina Drive, Shell Cove
Cost: Various, book here.

Shellharbour Marina sets a stunning backdrop to bid farewell to 2023 in style at The Waterfront Tavern. Flit from the Grey Goose Pop-Up Spritz Bar to the fresh cold seafood bar, enjoy live acoustic entertainment in the bistro and a live DJ in the Whale Bar. Don’t miss the photo wall capturing memorable moments.

Please note bookings are essential, with two sittings available.

Flyer for NYE at North Wollongong Hotel

Expect live acts and DJs split across three purpose-built stages at North Gong Hotel’s NYE bash. Image: North Wollongong Hotel.

New Year’s Eve at North Gong Hotel

When: Sunday 31 December, 3 pm
Where: North Gong Hotel, 3 Flinders Street, North Wollongong
Cost: $103.05, book here.

North Gong Hotel’s annual New Year’s Eve party goes off. Expect live acts and DJs split across three purpose-built stages in the glorious open air, with the return of the venue’s DJ laneway and courtyard stages. Bands include Hockey Dad, Mallrat, Mansionair, Set Mo, Crocodylus, Seaside, OK Hotel, Misso and Lemonise. DJs include NinaJirachi, Nyxen, Barley Passable DJs, YNG Daku, Cruise Control, Naughty Boys, Sultans Of Spin and DJY. So no matter what dance mood you’re in, there will be something to bust a move to.

Banner for Kiama NYE Sky Show 2023

This epic annual community event boasts the Illawarra’s biggest and best fireworks display. Image: Kiama Harbour Facebook.

Kiama NYE 2023 Sky Show

When: Sunday, 31 December, from 4 pm
Where: Kiama Harbour, Kiama
Cost: Free entry.

Billed as the South Coast’s biggest NYE event, you can join the crowds flocking to Kiama Harbour or tune into Wave FM 96.5 at 9 pm to listen to the fireworks soundtrack live from the comfort of your viewing point. This epic annual spectacle brings an electric atmosphere to the natural amphitheatre with Laurie’s Kiama Family Carnival, food stalls, live music, games and roving performers all providing entertainment throughout the evening before the fireworks spectacular at the family-friendly time of 9 o’clock.

Start your afternoon from 4 o’clock with the “circus drop zone” in the kids’ zone at Hindmarsh Park and end it with WAVE FM announcer, emcee, entertainer and all-round character Jade welcoming you live from the foreshore, for the biggest and best fireworks south of Sydney.

Flyer for Reminisce 80s and 90s NYE 2023 party

Multiple rooms with different vibes mean you can have the NYE you want – or flit between the flavours all night. Image: Reminisce ’80s and ’90s.

Reminisce ’80s and ’90s Presents NYE 2023

When: Sunday, 31 December, 7:30 pm
Where: City Beach Function Centre, 1 Marine Drive, Wollongong
Cost: General admission $199, VIP $229, book here.

Reminisce ’80s & ’90s has combined arguably the two best eras of music for a cracker of a night. The theme is “We Like to Party”, presenting sumptuous cocktail food and an unlimited beverage package, multiple rooms with DJs, a karaoke bar, a silent disco, 9 pm fireworks and a midnight countdown light show by Pro Sound & Lighting. The huge grazing station includes a selection of Italian antipasto, chargrilled vegetables, bread and dips and there will be eight roving hot and cold canapes.

With multiple spaces, there’s a room to match any mood, plus carnival rides at Lang Park across the road.

New Years Eve at Novotel Wollongong Northbeach banner

Novotel Wollongong Northbeach offers multiple NYE experiences – an elegant start to 2024 at Palisade Kitchen & Bar and The Deck and party vibes at Adrift Pool Bar. Image: Novotel Wollongong Northbeach.

New Year’s Eve Experience at Novotel Wollongong Northbeach

When: Sunday, 31 December, from 6:30 pm to 12:30 am
Where: Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, 2-14 Cliff Road, North Wollongong
Cost: Adult $229 (Accor Plus Member $206 ), teen 13 to 17 years $129, child five to 12 years $65, child up to four years free, book here.

Those after a night of glamour and elegance for NYE will find it at Novotel Wollongong Northbeach. Expect fresh oyster shucking and canapes, followed by a decadent two-course menu in Palisade Kitchen & Bar before heading up to The Deck to enjoy the fireworks and a scrumptious dessert grazing table. Both venues will have live music, and a four-hour premium beverage package will be available.

It’s worth noting that the Novotel is also hosting a strictly 18+ party at Adrift Pool Bar – NYE Sunset Session 2 from 7 pm. While the night is young, grab your friends and dance your way to 2024 with tunes spun from international and national DJs. Tickets include a cocktail on arrival, canapes and exclusive access to the pool, as well as cabanas available to book with a private hostess, bottle service, Adrift platters and cocktails (seats a maximum of 10 people).

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