ellaslist Reviews Darling Harbour At Night

  • Preschoolers
    Mums & Bubs

By: Jo McPherson, ellaslist explorer

I love to go to Darling Harbour with children as we always have so much fun. Normally we go during the day and visit Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Madame Tussauds, Chinese Garden of Friendship before finishing up at Tumbalong Playground. There is so much to see and do that one day is not enough to explore everything!

We decided that for a change we would explore Darling Harbour at night time.

How to get there?

There are lots of ways to get to Darling Quarter. We chose to drive and I used Wilson Parking to Book A Bay the day before – it’s just $13 for the day and night. It is worth looking around for the best deal to suit your needs. If you’ve booked a ticket at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo or Madame Tussauds, then you can get a discounted rate at Wilson’s. Check their websites and see the different rates on offer!

Where to Eat?

Darling Harbour is a foodie’s paradise. There is such a variety of places to eat – ranging from casual cafes to fine dining establishments with options that suit every pocket and appetite. Most of the eateries are very welcoming to kids so we had a huge selection to choose from. We started with a meal at Blackbird Café; great food with a kids menu and great service. Helpful hint: Make a booking in advance so you can secure a table overlooking the water.

Next time, we’re going to try out Nicks Bar and Grill and Miss E has made a special request for the decadently delicious Pancakes on the Rocks. Before you go, check out the Darling Harbour webpage for any current offers.

ellaslist reviews Darling Harbour at Night 4

Sydney’s Best Playground

Miss E was very excited to be going to the Darling Harbour Playground; it’s one of the best in Sydney. There is so much to do for children of all ages. Her favourite equipment is the huge spider web, flying fox, nest swing and water play area. We could spend hours having fun here and best of all it’s free!

We’d only previously visited the playground during the day. But let me tell you, at night it’s especially MAGICAL! The whole play area is illuminated with fairy lights and vivid colours. We especially loved the water fountains which changed colour with every spray. Magnificent!


ellaslist reviews Darling Harbour at Night 3

The Light Show

Luminous at Darling Quarter is a large interactive light installation that was at the top of our list of things to see. The light show began at around 8pm and lit up the precinct with gorgeous colours and a luminous atmosphere. We were slightly disappointed though that the interactive consoles were hidden behind fencing. I expect when Vivid hits Sydney (27th May – 18th June) Luminous will be a great addition to the LED twirlers, Laser Dragon Water Theatre and other fun events.

Nightly Programming for Luminous

Monday – Wednesday, 6-11pm: Smooth pre-programmed content designed by Bruce Ramus
Thursday & Sunday, 6-11pm: Dynamic colourful pre-programmed content designed by Bruce Ramus
Friday & Saturday, 6-11pm: Interactive play via the consoles on the Village Green North and South

<img size-full wp-image-101350" src=“http://www.ellaslist.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/31220549/Darling-Quarter-Luminous1.png” alt=“Darling Quarter Luminous”/>


And now for the best bit! BOOM BOOM BOOM!
You don’t have to wait for New Year’s Eve to see fireworks in Sydney because there are fireworks most Saturday nights at Darling Harbour. The clocks go back on 3rd April 2016 and the fireworks will then begin at 8:30 making them more accessible to young children. For 8 minutes we were mesmerised by the spectacular pyrotechnic show set to popular music. The harbour was packed with people all enjoying the Darling Harbour hospitality so we were pleased to have arrived 15 minutes early to get a good vantage spot. Helpful Hint: Get a spot on Pyrmont Bridge for a fabulous view.

ellaslist reviews Darling Harbour at Night 1

Top Tips

  • If you’re using public transport on a Sunday, buy a Family Funday Sunday ticket ($2.50 per person) and enjoy unlimited travel by train, bus, ferry and light rail.
  • Discounted parking is available at various car parks around Darling Harbour if you visit SEA LIFE Aquarium, WILD LIFE Zoo or Madame Tussauds and get your parking ticket validated so parking may be more affordable than public transport if you have a family and its convenience. Or spend $40 at Harbourside Secure Parking and get reduced parking (validation and T&Cs apply).
  • Book A Bay in advance offers exclusive discounts and peace of mind that you have a guaranteed space.
  • Arrive early for the fireworks so that you can get a good vantage spot.
  • Take a towel, dry clothes or swimmers for the children because they will want to go in the water play as it is awesome!
  • Book a table if you are eating at one of the restaurants, they get busy and you will want a good table.
  • Finally don’t try to do everything in one day. Darling Harbour is a place to visit often.

More Highlights of Darling Harbour
Day and Night, there is always something to do with the family at Darling Harbour. Here are our favourite activities:

  1. Chinese Garden of Friendship

  2. IMAX

  3. Bowling

  4. 9D Action Cinema

  5. Laser Skirmish


 ABOUT JO MCPHERSON                                                                                                                                                We are a small family originally from the UK. Dave (my husband) and I are in our 40’s and moved to Sydney about 10 years ago; we can’t imagine living anywhere else now. We have one daughter, Ellie, who is 7 and into anything that we offer her. She loves craft, drama, dressing up, swimming (particularly as a mermaid), cycling and anything else you may suggest she does. We also have a gorgeous dog, Rosie who is our best friend and ball lover.Dave is an IT architect and in his free time used to play many computer games however now we have a home, his free time is used to garden and do the DIY jobs that I am really hopeless at.
I’m a teacher and work with children and their families that have autism. It is a rewarding job and I love it. I also love the school holidays where Ellie and I can go off and explore Sydney. We all love travelling and doing new things; we are often browsing the ‘net for interesting things to see and do. Every school holiday we are busy doing things. My friends are always saying “you do so much with Ellie; you are always doing something different”! I wouldn’t have it any other way.