VIP Sensory Area
Sensory artist Bliss Cavanagh created the VIP Sensory Area, which was designed for people with disabilities and their families.
“We came up with the concept and I thought of this VIP name to make people with disabilities feel special on a night like this,” Ms Cavanagh said.
“It's all about making New Year's Eve more accessible for families and a lot more stress free.
“We tried to create a really magical experience that they would enjoy and remember.”
A pilot concept from Newcastle City Council, the area was a test-run for future events and had over double of the accepted 140 pre-registered users interested in using the service.
“It's very tactile, very visual and often I incorporate smells and sounds into the spaces aswell,” Ms Cavanagh said.
“It's all about indulging people's senses in a way that we don't usually get too.
“I tried to create really fun, vibrant sculptures and funky-furniture – and just unique things that people don't get to see.”
Read more: New Year’s Eve revellers live it up at Newcastle Foreshore
Neon New Year’s Eve theme
Council organisers sat down together in a room with local creatives to brain storm a concept for the evening and they came out with the neon theme.
The fireworks were designed to reflect the colours in council’s NEWCASTLE tourism logo, but it was the Queens Wharf precinct where the theme really came to life.
Zackari Watt, creative director of production house Lovelorn which helped council come up with the neon theme, said they wanted to achieve a distinct vibe and atmosphere.
“We wanted something a bit mysterious and a bit fun; interactive for the kids, rather than having your standard jumping castles,” Mr Watt said.
“We thought what's something the kids would like and you can also put a bit of a story into it.
“So we came up with a labyrinth with different characters who would be at different spots in the labyrinth asking riddles, playing chess or having a little tea party.”
Watt, 43, produced a host of events on the Market Street Lawn in 2017 and was involved in its launch in late 2016.
“We just like the [NYE] concept because it's mid-summer, so a little bit Midsummer Night's Dream.
“We've got animal characters and the labyrinth lends itself to those types of archetypes.”
Headlined by Mental As Anything, the free concert put on in the carpark of Queens Wharf was a muso’s delight.
Frontman of ‘80s pub-rock band Mental As Anything Greedy Smith declared Newcastle felt like a “hometown” for the band and rated the gig as one of the best they had been asked to play.
“It's such a spectacular place to be celebrating New Year's Eve; we've done the Sydney Opera House, Lord Mayor's Ball and all sorts of places, but it's magnificent here,” he said.
“Just the way people stroll in and occupy the space, and there's so much expectation.”
Council put close to $200,000 into the New Year’s Eve celebrations, but it was the $45,000 spent on a 14-minute fireworks spectacle that was the centerpiece.
Dubbed the “biggest” and best display the city had seen in the 9pm time slot, revellers were treated to a pyro master-show over Newcastle Harbour.
Fired this year from the new launch area of Griffith Park in Stockton, there wasn’t a bad line of sight for onlookers who had positioned themselves on the Wharf Road foreshore.
Talk are now expected to take place to investigate the possibility of a return of midnight fireworks, which have not been seen in the city since New Year’s Eve 2012.
Other notable parts of the evening included the swagger of Newcastle’s best food-trucks spread along Wharf Road, providing attendees with a wide selection of food options.
The Port of Newcastle’s tugboats even made an appearance in front of the crowd gathered on Queens Wharf, performing a series of 360-degree rotations in somewhat a celebratory dance.
Security measures were also in place for the event with huge skip bins placed at the eastern end of the Queens Wharf precinct to completely block any vehicle access from the area.
Similar precautions are now becoming commonplace at public events around the country.