David Bowie, Prince and Gene Wilder will be the feature of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve firework display in a tribute to them and other entertainment legends who passed away this year.
Final preparations for the big night are in full swing as barges are loaded with 120 tonnes of fireworks on Sydney Harbour.
Songs by the late stars have been incorporated in the soundtrack for this year’s fireworks and have inspired “never-before-seen” pyrotechnic effects which will light up the harbour at 9pm and midnight.
“Celebrating their music as part of the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks displays is an opportunity to reflect on the year that’s been and celebrate what the future holds,” said co-producer of Sydney’s NYE Catherine Flanagan.
Mrs Flanagan promised that “spectacular” fireworks will shower from the harbour bridge, rain from barges and explode in a “space odyssey” above the city.
“Children and adults everywhere are really going to be delighted from the wonderful Willy Wonka moment that we are going to have in this year’s fireworks,” she said.
Sydney’s Foti International Fireworks has been designing the display for the past 20 years and New Year’s Eve Fireworks director Fortunato Foti said the fireworks will reflect the soundtrack.
“We’re gonna make it rain purple this year for the first time and it’ll be not only off the barges but also off the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” he said.
Stars who have died more recently – George Michael and Carrie Fisher – will not feature as the soundtrack was completed in early September.
Created by composer Alex Gooden from Imagination Australia, David Bowie and Prince’s music was chosen to be included in the soundtrack as both had links to Australia.
“Sydney is especially significant to David Bowie, who called Elizabeth Bay home for a decade, Prince performed in Australia many times and his Sydney Opera House concert was one of his last,” Mrs Flanagan said.
As has occurred since 2014, there will not be a symbol on the bridge. “We felt that it was going to be great to really use the whole of the bridge in its iconographic glory to really show off Sydney at its best, so we’ve done that and we’re gonna light it up for the whole world to see,” Mrs Flanagan said.
The best view of the fireworks will be on the water but with up to 4000 boats contesting for the best spots, Maritime Services have warned skippers to come early.
The executive director of NSW Maritime, Angus Mitchell, reminded skippers to make sure all their safety gear is on board, navigation lights are working and that they avoid exclusion zones in order to have a safe night on the harbour.
“The sheer numbers of boats of all shapes and sizes requires careful planning to ensure there is no opportunity for anchor rage out on the water,” Mr Mitchell said.
Since Christmas there have been eight deaths from drownings in NSW and RMS says it’s vital that every passenger on board a vessel has a lifejacket.
“The large number of spectator craft can create choppy conditions and it is important everyone has a life jacket available regardless of the size of the boat they are travelling in,” Mr Mitchell said.
If you want to enjoy the fireworks from the water but don’t own a seafaring vessel there are a few boat cruises available from $500 and the cheapest privately chartered vessel is available from $4500.
On the other end of the spectrum is the 42m “Tango” vessel which has a jacuzzi, a dance floor and a mini bar inbuilt, it is available for hire for the night for only $100,000.
No matter where you are, you will be able to watch the 9pm and midnight fireworks on Facebook and Youtube or on the ABC TV channel and there will be a special radio broadcast for people with vision impairments.
With up to a million people expected to pack the city, there are many alternative firework sites around Sydney, with many councils hosting 9pm and midnight fireworks.