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What to do on New Year’s Day in Australia

As well as being the first day of the year, New Year’s Day is also a public holiday. What better time to get out there and celebrate the new year than in the middle of a beautiful Australian summer?

As 2023 comes to an end, you’ll find a mass of events being planned to mark New Year’s Day 2024. Although many shops and businesses are closed on New Year’s Day, there are still many ways to make it a fun and memorable occasion. Here are seven of them!

Relax at the beach or park

It’s almost an informal Australian rite of passage to head to the beach on New Year’s Day. Even if you aren’t keen on going for a swim or a surf, the beach or a nearby park is the perfect location to get some friends together and enjoy the atmosphere.

With so many people heading outdoors, you’ll probably have to arrive early to grab bench space in a park, a spot on the beach or a BBQ (especially if the weather is good). Seeing as New Year’s Day is in the middle of summer, be sure to pack enough drinking water and sunscreen to stay sun safe.

Attend a music festival

New Year’s Day is a popular occasion for parties and other social gatherings. From a casual brunch with work colleagues to an official New Year’s Day function, there’s something for everyone.

Music festivals are everywhere on New Year’s Day. In Sydney, there’s the annual Field Day music festival, held in the Domain. In Melbourne, try the two-day music and art party, Welcome to Thornbury, in Northcote. Fremantle Arts Centre in Perth also has an exciting line-up of bands for their New Year’s Day concert.

Head to the cinema

Every year, a bunch of summer blockbuster films are released for the Christmas and New Year’s periods. This year is no exception, with films like Wonka and Anyone But You coming out in time for the big day. 

Take your pick and relax in the air conditioning for a few hours – it’s a great way of staying out of the heat!

Go for a walk or hike

Just because it’s New Year’s Day doesn’t mean you need to go where the crowd goes. For something a little different, try organising a little adventure into nature. Whether it’s a casual walk along the river or a hike up a mountain, Australia’s natural landscapes are waiting for you to explore them. Just make sure to prepare accordingly so you can hike safely!

Visit a museum or gallery

For a quieter New Year’s Day, stop by a museum or art gallery in your local capital city or regional centre. Many places, such as the South Australian Museum in Adelaide, are open on New Year’s Day. However, you should always double-check opening times on each venue’s website or social media before heading out to avoid disappointment.

Other options include the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) in Sydney, which is presenting the largest exhibition of Tacita Dean staged in the southern hemisphere, or Fairy Tales,  a magical exhibition curated by the Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Plus, in Canberra, the Australian War Memorial is open for visitors from 10 am to 5 pm (tickets are required).

Create New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s Day is a chance to reflect on what you’ve accomplished during the year and plan out what you want to do in the year to come. This is where New Year’s resolutions come in.

Although not compulsory, New Year’s resolutions can be a handy way of trying new things or improving your daily habits. Common examples of New Year’s resolutions include going to the gym, learning a new hobby and doing daily acts of kindness.

Stay at home

Apart from celebrating the start of the new year, New Year’s Day also gives you a chance to just sit back and relax. Taking a break can help a lot with your mental health, especially if you’ve been studying hard all year.

Put on a movie, cook yourself a nice lunch or start reading that book you’ve wanted to start all year. It’s a day for you to do whatever you want.