Sydney at night

Sydney at night

Sydney's youth safer for longer on city streets

The Safe Space and Take Kare Ambassador program has helped more than 70,000 young people avoid the risk of late night alcohol-related violence in the city centre.

OPEN Sydney

From our high quality facilities to local services and initiatives, the City of Sydney is dedicated to delivering the best city environment for living, working, business and recreation, 24 hours a day.

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.

Future plans

The OPEN Sydney: strategy and action plan 2013-2030 is the City's 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.

Liquor laws

NSW Government reviews Sydney’s night-time economy

On 29 May 2019, the NSW Government announced a cross-party parliamentary committee to review Sydney’s night-time economy, including the city’s lockout laws. The committee will inquire and report into Sydney’s night-time economy, including any measures required to: 

  • maintain and enhance community safety 
  • maintain and enhance individual and community health outcomes 
  • ensure existing regulatory arrangements in relation to individuals, businesses and other stakeholders, including Sydney's lockout laws, remain appropriately balanced 
  • enhance Sydney’s night time economy.

The City’s submission to the inquiry calls for a new vision for Sydney at night. It outlines the impacts of the current NSW Government policy approach since introduction of the lockouts in February 2014 on alcohol-related violence and the city’s economy, culture and tourism sectors.

The submission reveals: 

  • a downward trends of alcohol-related violence in the city centre (-4.6%), lower than the state-wide (-5.6%) trend
  • 490,000 less people a year under the age of 35 visiting the city
  • 50% reduction in the number of venues primarily dedicated to live music 
  • 7% reduction in the number of night-time economy establishments 
  • 10% reduction in creative and performing arts businesses
  • reduced business diversity, with 50% fewer restaurants and only 9% of entertainment business trading after midnight.

The submission recommends the NSW Government invest in improved governance and coordinated action, better regulation, improved public transport, economic and cultural development, public information, precinct management and health interventions. The City’s submission can be found below.

The committee will report back to the government on 30 September with recommendations that will shape the future of Sydney at night.

Find out more about the inquiry

Liquor law reforms 

To improve safety in Sydney at night the NSW Government introduced new liquor laws in January 2014.

The NSW Government invited the public to respond to an independent review of the liquor law reforms it introduced in January 2014. The review closed for submissions on 4 April 2016 and relates to 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks laws, and 10pm take-away liquor sales restrictions. You can download the City's submission

The new laws came into effect on 24 February 2014 and include:

  • an expanded CBD entertainment precinct from Kings Cross to Darling Harbour, The Rocks to Haymarket, and Darlinghurst, detailed in the map below
  • venue lockouts from 1.30am at most licensed venues across the precinct
  • alcoholic drinks cannot be served after 3am in most licensed venues across the precinct
  • liquor licence freeze for new pubs and clubs across the precinct
  • police powers to ban trouble-making individuals from the precinct for up to 48 hours
  • all bottle shops and liquor stores across NSW will close at 10pm.

Other key measures within the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014 include:

  • Free buses every 10 minutes on Friday and Saturday nights from Kings Cross to the city centre to connect with NightRide services.
  • Mandatory minimum 8-year sentences under new one punch laws if the offender is intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol.
  • New mandatory minimum sentences for violent assaults if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Maximum sentence for the illegal supply and possession of steroids has been increased from 2 to 25 years.
  • On the spot fines for continued intoxication, disorderly behaviour and disobeying a police move-on order have increased to $1,100.
  • Community awareness campaign to address the culture of binge drinking and drug and alcohol related violence.
  • Voluntary intoxication by drugs or alcohol has been removed as a mitigating factor when courts determine sentences.
  • Where drugs and/or alcohol are aggravating factors for violent crimes the maximum penalty is increased by 2 years.
  • Periodic risk-based licensing scheme with higher fees for venues and outlets with later trading hours, poor compliance histories or high risk locations.

CBD entertainment precinct

Entertainment precincts

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 partnership with the NSW Government, the City has developed a Kings Cross plan of management to ensure the Kings Cross precinct is safe and well-managed now and into the future. The Kings Cross precinct comes under the measures outlined in the plan of management as well as those that apply to the CBD entertainment precinct under the new liquor laws.

Across both precincts, many additional initiatives occur during summer. We work closely with the NSW Government, including NSW Police Force and Transport for NSW, to coordinate transport, policing, cleansing, security and improved temporary and permanent infrastructure, like toilets.

Compliance and enforcement

City rangers are rostered to work across the city every night. On Friday and Saturday nights, licensed premises compliance officers are also on duty to inspect and ensure venues are complying with their development consent.

Our staff proactively deal with licensed premises and public amenity issues including parking, waste, footway obstructions and buskers.

Targeting peak times

During summer, night-time hot spots like Kings Cross, Oxford Street and George Street are targeted with the state government deploying extra police officers to conduct joint enforcement operations with officers from the City of Sydney, Liquor and Gaming NSW, Family and Community Services and NSW Fire and Rescue.

The operations aim to increase enforcement at licensed venues and deter anti-social behaviour.

Alcohol-free zones

In response to community and police requests in areas that have attracted street drinking, often at night or near busy entertainment areas, the City has established alcohol-free zones. It is an offence to drink alcohol in a declared alcohol-free zone 24 hours a day.

Some areas are also designated alcohol-prohibited areas. Local police enforce these laws.

Liquor licence freeze

A freeze on liquor licences being issued in certain areas aims to bring the number of people socialising in key zones back to a manageable level.

For more information about areas affected by the liquor licence freeze, refer to the Liquor and Gaming NSW website.

Temporary toilet facilities

Look out for the City's temporary toilet facilities that are installed overnight on weekends during summer in busy night-time areas like Kings Cross, Oxford Street and near Town Hall.

These facilities make late nights out less intrusive for local residents and provide more toilets at peak times.

Visitor information

A number of visitor information kiosks provide maps, brochures and general tourist information across the City.

The visitor information kiosks in Circular Quay, Haymarket and in Kings Cross remain open until 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights during summer. 


NSW Transport Info Destination NSW: food and wine in Sydney

Services at night

Public transport

Sydney's public transport system features a comprehensive network of bus, train and ferry services. There are also a number of late-night transport options to help you get home safely when you're out late.

A number of secure taxi ranks in the city, including Kings Cross and central Sydney, are staffed by security guards on Friday and Saturday nights.

Car parks

The City operates 2 car parks – Goulburn Street Car Park (near Central station) and Kings Cross Car Park.

There are many more private car parks available around town.

Many of the car parks are open 24 hours a day, such as the Kings Cross Car Park. You are able to exit the Goulburn Street Car Park with your vehicle 24 hours, provided you have a valid ticket.

Waste and recycling

Our cleansing and waste management crews work into the night and early morning to ensure the City is ready to start fresh each day.

A dedicated team is responsible for cleaning roads and footpaths, and removing illegally dumped and abandoned items from our streets.

Food trucks

A trial of mobile food trucks is well underway. The plan is to give people a better variety of dining options late at night.

An app can be downloaded from the Sydney Food Trucks site to find out where the trucks are serving in real time.

The City is also exploring options for late-night food markets in parks and public spaces.

Street safety cameras

More than 80 CCTV cameras across the city centre are monitored 24 hours a day by specially trained security personnel at a Town Hall control centre.

Live images can then be transferred from the centre to police so they can respond quickly if someone's personal safety is at immediate risk.

In August 2012, the City installed 6 new street safety cameras and upgraded 3 existing cameras in Kings Cross.

The upgrade included vision transfer equipment being installed at Kings Cross police station to provide live incident video feeds.

Last updated: Friday, 4 October 2019