The Wollongong CBD will have a midnight fireworks display to encourage revellers to see in New Year's Eve locally instead of travelling to Sydney.
Funded by the Illawarra Hotel and Smith Street Distillery owner Ryan Aitchison, the eight minute display will be fired from the top of Wollongong Central's Market Street car park as the calendar ticks over to 2024.
Mr Aitchison said he hoped people would consider catching the 9pm Wollongong City Council fireworks - which the council has wound back to be more low key in recent years - or having dinner in town, before partying the night away at one of the many venues in the CBD.
"So many people are choosing to go to Sydney to spend their New Year's Eve and their money, so we're saying let's keep as much of the money in Wollongong and support the venues that need it the most," he said.
"Most people take for granted the idea of having midnight fireworks, but when you don't have it, you've got to look to the private sector to make it happen."
Mr Aitchison hosted fireworks at midnight in 2021 in the midst of the Omicron COVID wave, so Mr Aitchison said he expected this year's celebration to be more significant.
He has approval to close off Market Street outside the Illawarra Hotel for an outdoors celebration on NYE over the next four years, with revellers having a street level view of the fireworks display which will be shot from the car park across the road.
"The best views will be at Humber, and in Globe Lane - at La La La's, Bevanda or The Prince - where people would come outside at midnight to watch, and at our Market Street block party," he said.
Mr Aitchison said his distillery had invested about $10,000 into putting on the fireworks display because it would benefit many businesses in the city.
"We're trying to create a culture where people just choose to come into the CBD to spend their New Year's Eve and we really want to stimulate a lot more foot traffic because there's a lot of growth potential there," he said.
"A lot of the bars have supported our distillery, so we want to support them too."
He said the move had been approved by Wollongong City Council, NSW Police and Wollongong Central, and that residents in surrounding areas would be notified about potential noise impacts.
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