By Lucy Manly
From fireworks displays to sit-down dinners and roving cocktail events, Sydney will continue to host a number of big-ticket New Year's Eve soirees despite the ever-present threat of COVID-19.
While people are being encouraged to "stay home" and watch a seven-minute midnight fireworks display on television, those who have nabbed bookings at harbourside venues will be allowed into for their celebrations.
Chef and restaurateur Matt Moran, whose venues operate within hospitality giant Solotel Group, will host several NYE events at Barangaroo House.
"It's been a rough year for everyone so it will be a great night to celebrate a better year to come," Moran tells The Sun-Herald. "I will be going between floors to take in the evening but making sure guests are enjoying themselves and seeing things run smoothly."
Rooftop venue Smoke has already sold out to 300 ticket holders. Things will be more casual at the downstairs House Bar, where there's no need to buy a ticket, just book a table and order what you like when you like.
To follow government health advice, there will be no dancing and stringent COVID-19 measures will be in place.
Sandwiched on the second floor, hatted restaurant BEA will offer a more relaxed setting. For $249 the evening include three hours of premium wine and cocktails and a shared feast of signature dishes - plus a sabrage celebration at midnight with a glass of champagne.
Despite announcing their famed VIP parties were "back on" in October, Catalina restaurant in Rose Bay and Icebergs Dining Room have called off their usual $1000-a-head parties.
Icebergs restaurateur Maurice Terzini told The Sun-Herald he will instead open for an intimate lunch overlooking one of the world's most famous beaches, Bondi, accompanied with sounds by our resident DJs.
Catalina will still host a NYD event with tables costing $300-$600 for a lavish four-course meal, but they have cancelled their usual party after the growing COVID-19 cluster in Sydney last week.
For Moran, January 1 will be a day the fourth-generation farmer relaxes into Sydney summer.
"New Year's Day for me will be spent on the balcony of North Bondi Fish with a group of mates drinking aperol spritzes and negronis," he says. "My New Year's resolution is, like every year, to spend more time at my farm in the Central Tablelands."
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Lucy Manly is a reporter and gossip columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and Sun-Herald.