The City of Sydney has kicked off its 17-day 2013 Chinese New Year Festival with markets, art exhibitions and city-wide banquet specials as it celebrates the cultural mix of East and West.
The festival runs from February 8 to 24 with more than 80 events planned.
The event has become a major drawcard for residents, international tourists and visitors – with estimates of last year’s event drawing around 150,000 tourists to the city over the two-week period.
“The City’s Chinese New Year Festival started 17 years ago with a small community event in Chinatown attended by a few hundred people, and has since grown to become one of the biggest celebrations of the Lunar New Year throughout the world,” said Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore.
“Our festival is a celebration of our city’s diversity, uniting people from all cultures to share the beginning of a New Year, start afresh and leave behind regrets from the previous year,” Ms Moore said.
The Taronga Foundation will be the City’s Chinese New Year Charity Partner for the second year running, with money raised throughout the festival contributing to the foundation’s conservation work and research into the Oenpelli python – a rare and vulnerable snake that has long been a special totem for Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land.
The City’s Creative Director of Events, Gill Minervini – a 13-year veteran of the festival – said Sydney was preparing to come to life with the charm of the snake.
“Each year, we’re delighted by the enthusiasm with which the people of Sydney, and visitors from all corners of the globe, embrace our Lunar New Year festivities,” Ms Minervini said.
Sydney spends around $1 million on its annual Chinese New Year festival – the centre piece is its Chinese New Year Twilight parade commencing at the Sydney Town Hall and finishing at Darling Harbour.
This year’s Year of the Snake Twilight Parade will be held from 8pm on Sunday, February 17 starting at the Sydney Town Hall and winding its way through the city in a blur of colour and theatrics to Chinatown and Darling Harbour.
The parade includes live music, floats, dazzling costumes and beautiful illuminated zodiac lanterns with more than 3,500 local and international performers participating in the event including 120 artists from 2013 Chinese city partner, Shenzhen. ■