February 11, 2018
Lord Mayor Clover Moore today officially launched the countdown to the start of Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival – the largest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside of Asia.
The City of Sydney’s festivities kick off with an opening night fireworks display on 16 February together with Sydney Harbour Bridge glowing an auspicious red for 10 consecutive nights.
The spectacular start to the Year of the Dog also includes unveiling the Lunar Lanterns exhibition at Circular Quay, with giant artworks representing the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac.
The Lord Mayor said the city-wide celebrations this Lunar New Year are an opportunity for all the community to come together in harmony.
“The Lunar New Year is a fantastic way to highlight and celebrate our Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai and Australian cultures in Sydney,” the Lord Mayor said.
Around 1.4 million people are expected to join in Sydney’s 22nd Chinese New Year Festival that run from 16 February to 4 March and includes everything from art exhibitions and food events to live performances and dragon boat races.
As part of the Lunar Lanterns exhibition, the City unveils five new lanterns this year. An animated dog lantern features on the western broadwalk at the Sydney Opera House. A pig lantern with 1,000 individual pigs is at Cadman’s Cottage in The Rocks. A colourful 13-metre tall dragon lantern sits on the front lawn of the Museum of Contemporary Art. A huge resting tiger sits atop a Circular Quay ferry terminal. And two 3.8-metre-tall dog lanterns guard the entrance to Dixon Street Mall in Chinatown.
Designer of the dog lantern at the Sydney Opera House, Chinese–Australian artist Song Ling, said the new dog lantern is based on traditional designs and inspired by his beloved pet.
“The most significant quality in dogs is their unconditional companionship and loyalty. Their energy can be passed on to us, with a special kind of warmth – as if they understand us more than we know ourselves – and I brought this feeling into my creation,” he said.
The Lunar Lanterns exhibition, from 16 to 25 February, runs along Circular Quay from the Sydney Opera House to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, with the addition of two dog lanterns in Chinatown.
Chinatown will come alive with a host of enchanting sights, sounds and taste-bud-tingling smells in celebration of the Lunar New Year. From lion dancers to food and art tours across Haymarket, a variety of unique celebrations will transport visitors to the charm and magic of traditional Chinese culture.
More than 200 performers and international delegates will feature in the festival, taking part in traditional, contemporary and folk dances, choral performances, martial arts and lion dances. The performers in the impressive line-ups have Australian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Indonesian heritage.
Upwards of 3,000 paddlers from across Australia will take part in the annual Dragon Boat Races on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February. In the biggest dragon boat race in the southern hemisphere, the two-day regatta consists of more than 100 races running every 10 minutes each day. The races incorporate sports and corporate club races, charity races and WSFM’s Jonesy and Amanda who will compete in their own celebrity dragon boat race on Saturday.
The city charity partner for the Chinese New Year Festival, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, will run several events as part of the festival.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT CEO Dale Cleaver said: “We’re proud to be a part of this year’s Sydney Chinese New Year Festival, honouring some of our dogs in-training who are about to begin their lives as fully fledged guide dogs at a graduation ceremony, a dog art installation and a guided tour of the Lunar Lanterns.”
More than 80 associated events will offer celebrations of the Lunar New Year, from a traditional tea ceremony at the Art Gallery of NSW and congee breakfasts in Chinatown to art exhibitions and a Chinese opera demonstration.
The Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall stage will feature leading Chinese and Australian singers and musicians in East Meets West – Chinese Lunar New Year’s Eve Gala Concert and Treasures of a Nation, a performance by the prestigious Chinese Orchestra of China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater.
Festival highlights include:
Lunar Lanterns exhibition – Friday 16 February to Sunday 25 February
Community Performance Program and Lunar Spectacular Show – 16-18 and 23-25 February, from 5pm
Chinatown Celebrations: Friday 16 February to Sunday 4 March
Australian Premiere – Stalker Theatre’s Frameshift – Friday 16 February to Sunday 18 February 8.30pm – 9.15pm
Dragon Boat Races – Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February
Chinese delegates in Sydney – Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT – various dates from Friday 16 February to Sunday 4 March
Associated events – various dates from Friday 16 February to Sunday 4 March
Asian food – Friday 16 February to Sunday 4 March