Cultural and creative life

By George, dragons! Experience the magic of Sydney Lunar Festival

The roarsome dragons and lanterns making George Street shine for Sydney Lunar Festival.

Dragon lunar lantern George Street Haymarket

2024 is the Year of the Dragon and our city is looking the part for this year’s Sydney Lunar Festival.

Lanterns, banner galleries – and yes, a dragon flying along the light rail tracks!

We’ve made George Street an open-air gallery and we invite everyone to come along and enjoy everything Sydney Lunar Festival has to offer.

This amazing dragon riding the light rail

Sydney has its first ever dragon on light rail! The artwork was created by Sydney artist Andrew Yee and celebrates different generations of Haymarket’s community, linked nicely by the idealism of the dragon.

“They each represent an influential time for Haymarket, with the first child being the establishment of Chinese businesses and residents in the early 20th century.

“The second symbolises the ease of permanent residencies for Chinese immigrants and the promotion of Chinatown as a tourist destination in the late 1980s.

“The third characterises the progressive generation of the present,” Yee said.

Artist Andrew Yee with his creation at Central Chalmers tram stop. Image: City of Sydney/Chris Southwood
Artist Andrew Yee with his creation at Central Chalmers tram stop. Image: City of Sydney/Chris Southwood

We think there’s no better way to arrive at Sydney Lunar Festival than on board a dragon.

We made this vibrant idea come to life through collaboration with the state government and light rail operator Transdev.

“It’s been a proud moment to work with the City of Sydney to use local community artist Andrew Yee’s artwork on the light rail.

“In doing so, it’s created a moving canvas that will inspire passengers and onlookers to join in the festivities of Sydney Lunar Festival,” Transdev Sydney managing director Arsene Durand-Raucher said.

We want everyone to enjoy the light rail dragon safely, and urge visitors to be aware of their surroundings when taking in the artwork.

The lanterns bringing light and colour to the heart of the city

Up and down George Street you will find 12 zodiac lanterns too.

The 12 animals, including a dragon, combine modern shapes, traditional aesthetics and colours like deep reds which denote luck in Chinese culture.

The lanterns and floral plinth artworks were designed by artist Erika Zhu and manufactured by the multidisciplinary dplr team.

“Stylistic-wise, I leaned towards softer rounded outlines to evoke a friendlier and welcoming vibe, a gesture of open arms to the Asian-Australian community in a moment of celebration for the Lunar New Year,” Zhu said.

The lanterns sit on top of solar-powered illuminated plinths and will be a feature of future festivals as they’re reused in line with the City of Sydney’s sustainability efforts.

The Lunar banner galleries return with the creations of Chrissy Lau, Dongwang Fan, Yonny and William Tse, and Yuqing Wei proudly flying in Circular Quay and along George, Sussex and Harbour streets.

Twenty-two drawings by children aged from 5 to 11 have been shortlisted from a field of more than 700 entries and feature on plinths along George Street.

Each Lunar New Year also has an element associated with it. In 2024 it is the Year of the Wood Dragon.

In Dixon Street Mall, a 5m-tall wooden dragon rises in the air, appearing and disappearing between neon-lit clouds.

“Our city is a canvas and after painting the town in Christmas and New Year Eve’s colours, we’re ready to welcome the Year of the Dragon with the Sydney Lunar Festival – one of the biggest Lunar New Year festivals outside Asia,” Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore AO said.

Are you a dragon? Get to know other dragons and what being born in the Year of the Dragon means to them.

Sydney Lunar Festival 2024

We’ve been running Sydney Lunar Festival for 28 years, and it remains one of the highlights on the calendar.

The 2024 festival began on 10 February and runs until 25 February with more than 70 events across 16 days.

Expect lion dancing, great food, art, culture and of course dragon boat racing. See how you can get involved and enjoy the festivities.

Find out more about the event program.

Published 14 February 2024, updated 15 February 2024