Night-time economy

Sydney has the largest night-time economy and the biggest number of visitors in Australia - as well as the country's densest residential and commercial districts.


Sydney after dark

Sydney has the largest night-time economy and the biggest number of visitors in Australia – as well as the country's densest residential and commercial districts.

The OPEN Sydney strategy and action plan 2013-2030 is our vision for the long-term development of Sydney at night.

The strategy addresses the interests of everyone – our increasing resident population, local business owners and our highly expectant visitors.

Our night-time economy focus emerged when we consulted with local communities about making Sydney a sustainable city by 2030.

Successful global cities have a strong cultural life and the diverse night-time economy.

What we know

  • Evidence shows that more diverse options lead to a more connected and resilient community, help create a more inclusive nightlife, and improve safety and reduce crime.
  • People have told us they wanted better public transport and a city with a diverse and exciting night-time economy with events and activities for people of all ages and interests – they don't want a city that is unsafe or shuts down as soon as the sun goes down.
  • Sydney's night-time economy is critical to our city's future – it generates more than $3.64 billion in revenue each year, with more than 4,600 businesses employing more than 32,000 people.

Our goal is to provide clear direction for Sydney's after-hours economy through to 2030, balancing all the factors. The interests of everyone – local business owners, our increasing resident population and our highly expectant visitors – are being taken into account. Public safety is of course paramount.

Key action areas

The CBD entertainment precinct covers key night time activity areas such as George Street, Oxford Street, The Rocks and Darling Harbour. These areas require extra management at night due to the increased number of visitors attending venues such as restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars.

In 2018, an extensive consultation process brought forward the views of more than 10,000 people. They called for late-night activity near where they live, increased opening hours and a greater diversity of things to do after dark.

In response, we updated planning controls (refer to Item 8.2) to provide the foundations for the growth of Sydney’s nightlife into the future. The new controls include some of the biggest changes to city planning in a decade.

What the updated planning controls allow for

How we can achieve this

OPEN Sydney is our strategy and action plan for the long-term development of Sydney’s night-time economy to 2030. Council endorsed the strategy in February 2013.

The strategy was developed after extensive consultation with local communities. This included residents, focus groups, representatives from the retail, liquor and entertainment sectors as well as key government leaders.

By 2030, we hope the night-time economy will be transformed from a focus on younger people and drinking to 40% of people being over 40. We also hope that 40% of operating businesses at night will be shops.

We're encouraging a larger variety of retailers and attractions to stay open late, to broaden people's choices of things to do at night. We hope to double the city's night-time turnover to $30 billion and increase night-time employment by 25% to 100,000 jobs.

Programs and initiatives

We already have a number of programs and projects in place to support our focus on Sydney’s night-time economy, including our Global cities after dark program.

Global cities after dark

Sydney's inaugural Global Cities After Dark forum was held in 2017. The forum was held again in 2018 and 2019. You can access the outcomes reports from the first 2 forums:

We will update this page when the 2019 outcomes report is available.

The forums brought together experts and local, national and international stakeholders to discuss and share ideas on night-time culture. Global Cities After Dark was presented in partnership between Electronic Music Conference and VibeLab founder Mirik Milan.

The event was supported by the City of Sydney through a knowledge exchange grant.

Other industry-leading programs and initiatives

Related resources

The following reports and plan will provide more information on our night time economy strategies.

OPEN Sydney Strategy and Action Plan February 2013PDF · 1.43 MB · Last modified
An open and creative city - City of Sydney deliberative workshopsPDF · 8.25 MB · Last modified
City of Sydney night time economy researchPDF · 1.24 MB · Last modified
Online survey summary reportPDF · 1.38 MB · Last modified
Small bars legislation review: City of Sydney submissionPDF · 229.28 KB · Last modified