Get set to ring in the Year of the Snake in spectacular style, with the City of Sydney’s 2013 Chinese New Year Festival offering a feast of fun for everyone.
From 8-24 February, the internationally renowned arts and culture festival will bring Sydney’s streets to life with more than 80 events – from annual favourites like the Twilight Parade and Chinese New Year Markets, to exciting new additions like the Dragon Ball and Lunar Feasts.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the festival was a much-loved fixture on Sydney’s cultural calendar and a major drawcard for residents, international tourists and visitors.
“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,” the Lord Mayor said.
“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.
“It attracts hundreds and thousands of people to Sydney every year, creating a fantastic atmosphere and bringing a major boost to the local economy.”
The Chinese partner city for next year’s festival will be Shenzhen, a modern metropolis and successful economic zone in the south-eastern province of Guangdong. More than 120 performers from Shenzhen will take part in the celebrations.
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.
Three festival ambassadors have also been confirmed: MasterChef winner, author and TV presenter Adam Liaw; haute-couture fashion designer Bowie Wong, and Young Australian of the Year and engineering entrepreneur Marita Cheng.
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.
“This reception inspires us to keep coming up with great events and activities that highlight our wonderful and diverse community. We’re looking forward to making sure the Year of the Snake has a spectacular start.”
2013 Sydney Chinese New Year Festival highlights
Festival Launch Celebration – 8 February at Belmore Park
Belmore Park will become a bustling night-time market, complete with sizzling woks, firecrackers, dancing dragons and spectacular live performances. Grab a meal and enjoy the spectacle, then stick around as the SBS PopAsia crew plays nonstop hits from across Asia, keeping the party going until late.
Chinese New Year Markets – Friday 8 to Sunday 10 February at Belmore Park
For three days and nights, Belmore Park will become a pop-up Asian marketplace with more than 40 stalls from the local Asian community and visitors from Shenzhen. Get ready for delicious food, cooking demonstrations, lion dancers, DJs, karaoke competitions, nonstop Asian pop, Korean rock, film screenings, art and craft workshops and more.
Twilight Parade – Sunday 17 February from Sydney Town Hall to Chinatown
The highlight of each year’s Chinese New Year celebrations, Sydney’s annual Twilight Parade will be a feast for the senses with live music, amazing floats, dazzling costumes and beautiful illuminated zodiac lanterns. More than 3,500 local and international performers will feature in this street spectacular, including 120 artists from Shenzhen.
Be wowed by famous snakes throughout history, stunning martial artists, circus performers, Chinese musicians and visiting groups from Beijing, Hunan and Shaanxi. Brilliant light projections along the parade route will turn the City Centre into a mini-Hong Kong, and the parade will finish with a bang at Darling Harbour.
Dragon Ball – Saturday 23 February at Sydney Town Hall
A new addition to this year’s festival, the Dragon Ball recreates the premier event of the local Chinese community’s social calendar from the 1930s-70s at Sydney’s famous Trocadero, where Chinese girls made their debut and Sydneysiders enjoyed glamorous evenings of big-band swing, dancing, supper, cocktails and fancy frocks.
The Dragon Ball will be directed by Kris Stewart, who has previously worked on the Sydney Fringe Festival, New York Musical Theatre Festival and Festival of Voices in Tasmania.
Dragon Boat Races – 23 and 24 February at Cockle Bay
Don’t miss the thrilling competition as these spectacular 12-metre-long boats, featuring the head and tail of a dragon, battle it out in the largest dragon boat racing spectacular in the southern hemisphere. Thousands of people are expected to line the shores at Cockle Bay, and more than 3,000 paddlers will take to the water.
Snake Snake Snake contemporary art exhibition – 5 to 23 February at Sydney Town Hall
Celebrating the rich connections between Australia and China, Vietnam and Korea, this extraordinary art exhibition will feature both emerging and established contemporary artists. The eclectic works will explore heritage, individual journeys, cultural issues and the concept of home. There will also be free artist talks and demonstrations.
Lunar Feasts – 8 to 24 February at participating Sydney restaurants
From dumplings and noodles to barbecues and banquets, some of Sydney’s favourite Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants are serving delicious set-price meals to welcome the Year of the Snake. These Lunar New Year feasts will delight your tastebuds, and still leave you with change for your red lucky-money envelopes! A full list of restaurants will be available closer to the date.