Crowds of more than 100,000 people have lined the streets of Sydney for the city’s annual Chinese Lunar New year Twilight Parade.
Locals and tourists in Sydney over the Chinese New Year period were wowed by the city’s annual Chinese New Year twilight parade, this year being led by a giant snake in the form of snake goddess Lady White Snake.
In Chinese mythology, Lady White Snake – a creature, half-woman, half-snake is betrayed and imprisoned by her mortal lover, before making a dramatic escape and returning to her heavenly realm.
Emerging from a giant snake head backed by a musical accompaniment of the traditional Chinese Lady White Snake opera, Lady White Snake performed along Sydney’s George Street, with crowds of an estimated 100,000 people lining the streets between the Sydney Town hall and China Town, making it one of Sydney’s biggest lunar new year twilight parades.
Accompanied by 110 dancing ‘snakettes’, Lady White Snake shed her skin in a symbol of renewal, leaving an 80-metre trail of ‘snakeskin’ in her wake.
“Each year, the Twilight Parade is the highlight of our Lunar New Year celebrations,” said Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
The free celebration featured more than 3,500 performers from Australia and China – including 120 artists from Shenzhen, the City’s official Chinese partner city for this year’s festival.
The Parade also included 22 colourful floats, live music, dazzling costumes and beautiful illuminated zodiac lanterns.
It included roving performances by snake charmers, dancers and acrobats on ladders, followed by a traditional Chinese lion dance and eye-dotting ceremony to ward off evil spirits.
A host of Asian and Western snakes came to life throughout the parade, including a ‘lucky snake’ float made from gold coins and red packets; a fluorescent ‘snakes and ladders’ board game complete with dancing dice and ladders on stilts; a giant rattlesnake, powered by bikes and accompanied by flamethrowers, cowboys and dancing cacti; and a glowing ‘snake in the grass’ float, covered in beautiful LED lights.
Women throughout history whose stories have been entangled with the snake were also celebrated with a catwalk float, featuring Eve, Cleopatra and Medusa, accompanied by giant faux snakeskin handbags and shoes.
Visitors from Shenzhen brought traditional folk dancing, modern hip-hop performances and an award-winning high-school marching band, plus floats decorated with beautiful handmade paper lanterns and neon lights to the parade.
Light projections along the parade route transformed the city into a mini Hong Kong until late into the night with fireworks over Darling Harbour bringing the event to a close.
Over the Chinese New Year, Sydney also hosted a Dragon Ball as well as a unique Asian Australian contemporary art exhibition – Snake Snake Snake, completing the festival with annual Dragon Boat races in Cockle Bay. ■