Media releases

Sydney celebrations to be the best in show

Published 30 November 2017

More than a million people are expected to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of Asia when Sydney celebrates the Year of the Dog.

The City of Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival is the biggest festival of the Lunar New Year outside Asia, and the third largest free annual event in Sydney.

From its humble beginnings as a small event in Chinatown, the festival has become a world-renowned event that celebrates Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cultures.

In 2018, the festival will feature celebrations across Sydney for 17 days – from 16 February to 4 March – with 80 family-friendly events, including the Lunar Lanterns exhibition, Dragon Boat Races and performances by community groups and international delegates.

“Sydney’s Chinese New Year is a fixture on Sydney’s cultural calendar and a major attraction for locals as well as national and international visitors,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“The festival is a celebration of our city’s diversity, uniting people from all cultures to share the beginning of each New Year, which brings with it the opportunity to start afresh and leave behind regrets from the previous year.

“Last year’s festival attracted around 1.4 million people to our city and harbour foreshore, creating a fantastic atmosphere and providing a major boost to the local economy.”

Highlights of the 2018 Sydney Chinese New Year Festival include:

Chinatown celebrations – Friday to Sunday, 16–18 and 23–25 February and 2–4 March

The heart and soul of Sydney’s Lunar New Year will be on show in Chinatown, with a host of celebrations to welcome the Year of the Dog watched over by two guardian dogs towering 4.8 metres above the street.

Visitors can marvel at lion dance performances with traditional Chinese crackers every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the Festival. The Friday night Chinatown markets on Little Hay Street will offer everything from yum cha and teppanyaki to takoyaki and green-tea flavoured desserts.

Australian Premiere – Stalker Theatre’s Frameshift – Friday 16 – Sunday 18 February

This aerial theatre show combines vertical performance, contemporary dance and b-boy dancing, using technology to read body movement and translate these images onscreen.

Frameshift is a collaboration between Australian physical theatre company Stalker Theatre, Korean vertical performance group Creative Dandi, and b-boy group Drifterzcrew and explores ideas of community and infrastructure.

The Australian premiere will take place at Customs House Forecourt at Circular Quay and is presented by the City of Sydney’s Art & About program.

Lunar Lanterns – Friday 16 – Sunday 25 February

A creative, contemporary interpretation of a centuries-old tradition, the Lunar Lanterns exhibition features 12 zodiac animal lanterns that line the foreshore from the Sydney Opera House, around Circular Quay to the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Designed by Asian-Australian artists, the larger than life lanterns tower up to 15 metres high.

Year of the Dog lanterns will be located at Sydney Opera House and Dixon Street Mall in Chinatown.

Lunar Lanterns community performances – Friday to Sunday 16–18 and 23–25 February

The community performance program is a celebration of cultures, community and friendship featuring more than 200 performers from local Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai and Indonesian community groups.

Live performances will run over six evenings at Bligh and Barney Reserve near the Overseas Passenger Terminal and include traditional dance, contemporary dance, choral performances and martial arts demonstrations.

Dragon Boat Races – Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February

Thousands of paddlers from across Australia will take to the waters for the annual races on Cockle Bay at Darling Harbour for the biggest dragon boat race regatta in the southern hemisphere.

The 12-metre long boats are decorated to feature the head and tail of a dragon, a hull painted with dragon scales, and paddles to represent the claws. Each vessel is armed with 22 rowers, including a drummer to inspire the rowers with a rhythmic beat.

The two-day regatta consists of more than 100 races running every 10 minutes each day and featuring sports, corporate and charity clubs races.

China in Sydney – Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February

A delegation of 25 visiting artists from Henan Province in China will delight audiences at Barney and Bligh Reserve with traditional cultural performances including Shaolin monks, singers and dancers performing Chinese opera, dance and martial arts.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT – various dates Friday 16 February – Sunday 4 March

The City’s charity partner for Chinese New Year, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will run several events as part of the festival.

An audio tour will take vision-impaired visitors on a guided tour of the Lunar Lanterns exhibition around the foreshore.

Artists and celebrities will be invited to paint 60 guide dog collection boxes that will be on display next to Customs House forecourt, at Scouts Place. Commemorating the organisation’s 60th anniversary, the art installation will also serve as a People’s Choice competition, with the dog that collects the most donations declared the winner. The decorated dogs will be auctioned for charity at the end of the festival.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will host a guide dogs graduation ceremony at Barney and Bligh Reserve on Saturday 17 February. Passersby can see live guide dog training demonstrations, and get up and close with guide dog puppies.

Associated events – various dates Friday 16 February – Sunday 4 March

More than 80 associated events across Sydney will offer celebrations of the Lunar New Year. These include singing karaoke at the top of the Harbour Bridge, to tea ceremonies, exploring the moon at Sydney Observatory, lantern workshops, photography exhibitions, performances, kids’ events and tours.

Asian food

Restaurants in the heart of Haymarket will offer a feast of Asian food during the Lunar New Year. Eateries in Koreatown, Thaitown and Chinatown will offer the unique flavours and culture of their associated homelands.

Contemporary banquets are also on offer, with many popular eateries hosting special new year menus.

For more information go to

For media inquiries or images, contact Senior Media Advisor, Elaine Kelly. Phone 0477 362 550 or email or Chinese New Year Media Officer, Lynda Gladwin on 02 9246 7356 or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Anusha Muller. Phone 02 9246 9940 or email