Sydney Lunar Festival roars to life for the Year of the Dragon

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Sydney is throwing a 16-day party to celebrate the 2024 Lunar New Year – with outdoor festivities, dragon boat races, art, installations, lanterns, cultural performances and lion dancing.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore today launched the Sydney Lunar Festival, which runs Saturday 10 February to Sunday 25 February and is the one of the largest celebrations of the Lunar New Year outside Asia.

"The Sydney Lunar Festival is one of the city’s most important events, bringing people together and celebrating the diverse food, art and heritage of our multicultural communities,” the Lord Mayor said.

“From parties to performances and delicious Lunar-inspired food, there are over 70 events to enjoy across 16 days so there’s something for everyone.

“2024 welcomes the Year of the Dragon, a year that is said to bring great fortune. The dragon is unique because it is the only mythical creature of all the animals in the Chinese zodiac, and it is seen as a powerful symbol of vitality, innovation, enterprise, passion and romance.

“It also marks the start of an auspicious year for our historic Chinatown area, as we begin a $44 million revitalisation project to celebrate the area’s rich history and breathe new life for decades to come.”

The festivities begin on Lunar New Year’s Day at 5pm in Haymarket on Saturday 10 February. The City of Sydney will close parts of Thomas, Hay, Sussex and Harbour streets and make way for lion dancing, food stalls, roving performances and more entertainment.

Dixon Street will be decorated throughout the festival with a wooden dragon that will rise 5m high to dazzle crowds in Chinatown’s traditional heart.

George Street is being lit up with 12 zodiac lanterns between Town Hall and Ultimo Road, each sitting on top of an illuminated plinth. All 12 lanterns, designed by artist Erika Zhu and built by the multidisciplinary team at dplr, will be reused and feature in future festivals as part of the City of Sydney’s sustainability efforts.

Another six solar powered plinths will display children’s artwork shortlisted from more than 700 entries in a drawing competition run especially for the festival. The winning entries depict the children’s imaginative dragons and come from kids across metropolitan Sydney.

Each lantern and plinth is powered by state of the art solar trees and are part of the City of Sydney’s push to net zero emissions by 2035.

Four lunar gateways made in traditional Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese styles will go up around Haymarket, and banner galleries will fly proudly in Circular Quay and along George, Sussex and Harbour streets.

Dragon boat racing returns once more with around 3,000 paddlers taking over Cockle Bay on 16, 17 and 18 February. Following last year’s success, organisers will again hold an opening ceremony paying tribute to Australian and Chinese cultures coming together in a spirit of diversity and inclusion.

On Saturday 17 February, Town Hall will welcome performers for the Sydney Lunar Spectacular, a rich celebration of Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese culture.

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the festival visitors will be able to enjoy lion dancing at various spots in and around Haymarket.

And on the final Saturday of the festival, families are welcome to take part in the Great Dragon Race, a Lunar style scavenger hunt with the first 20 people winning their own 3D printed dragon.

The City of Sydney is proud to have charity partner Settlement Services International on board for this year’s Sydney Lunar Festival. SSI is a not-for-profit providing human and social services to create equal access opportunities to a diverse range of people. To donate, visit ssi.org.au/sydney-lunar-festival-2024/

For more information on the more than 70 Sydney Lunar Festival events, visit sydneylunarfestival.com. Images and overlay can be downloaded here.

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