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Sydney Chinese New Year Festival 2013

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by Geraldine Massey (subscribe)
I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
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Slither into the Year of the Snake
In February 2013 don your best red outfit, adorn yourself with a bloodstone, find your inner schemer and slither your way into the Year of the Snake at one of Sydney's favourite festivals. Sydney Chinese New Year Festival kicks off with a festive bang on Friday 8 February and closes with the splash of dragon boat racing on Sunday 24 February. And in between you'll find everything from art exhibits, film festivals and markets to lunar feasts at top Sydney restaurants and of course, the ever popular Chinese New Year Twilight Parade.

sydney chinese new year festival, year of the snake
The Year of the Snake. Image from Sydney Chinese New Year website.

Sydney's festival lays claim to the title of the biggest Chinese New Year Festival outside mainland China. There's so much happening that Sydney needs more than two weeks to fit it all in. For full details of the more than eighty events and activities on offer - many of them free - see the website here, but below is a summary of the festival's not-to-be-missed highlights.

Highlights

Chinese New Year Markets
The festival begins with the authentic sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a Chinese marketplace, transforming Sydney's Belmore Park into a little piece of China. The festival's opening weekend serves up food stalls, Chinese arts and crafts, entertainment, and the Chinese New Year AYAM Kitchen where former Master Chef favourites, Adam Liaw and Alvin Quah, will be giving cooking demonstrations and tips.

chinese new year markets
Image from Sydney Chinese New Year website.

When: Friday 8 February from 4pm to 10pm, Saturday 9 February from 11am to 7pm, Sunday 10 February from 11am to 5pm.
Where: Belmore Park, Eddy Avenue, Sydney (opposite Central Station).
Cost:Free


Festival Launch
In addition to the Friday night markets, there will be lion dances, firecrackers to scare away the last of the previous year's problems, and entertainment from the crew at SBS PopAsia, to celebrate the festival's official launch.

sydney chinese new year festival launch
Image for Sydney Chinese New Year Festival website.

When: Friday 8 February from 6pm to 8pm
Where: Belmore Park, Eddy Avenue, Sydney (opposite Central Station).
Cost: Free


Twilight Parade
The magical, annual procession of floats, lanterns, acrobats and dancers will once again make its way from Sydney Town Hall to Harbour Street, to the backdrop of Sydney's beautifully illuminated buildings. There's also pre-parade entertainment and post-parade fireworks at Cockle Bay.

twilight parade, sydney chinese new year
Image from Sydney Chinese New Year Festival website.

When and Where: Sunday 17 February. The evening begins at Sydney Town Hall at 7pm, with the parade from 8pm and festivities conclude with the Cockle Bay fireworks.
Cost: Free. There is also limited VIP seating available for $66 per person. Call 02 9265 9333 for information and to book.


Lunar Feasts
This year's festival introduces Lunar Feasts, where some of Sydney's top Asian restaurants will be offering set price meals to celebrate the new year. You can experience everything from vegan yum cha or an eight course lunch banquet to "Food of Tasteful Pleasure' or a premium deluxe banquet. These specials will be available throughout the festival, but bookings are essential and ensure you read the fine print (some conditions apply). You can find the list of participating restaurants and details of their specials here.

lunar feasts, sydney chinese new year festival
Image from Sydney Chinese New Year Festival website

When: From 8 to 24 February 2013
Where: Participating restaurants
Cost: Ranges from $20 to $50 per person.


Dragon Boat Races
See the powerful yet poetic spectacle of dragon boat racing on the last weekend of the festival. The 12 metre long boats seat twenty paddlers along with a sweep and a drummer. Competition will be fierce and exciting at Darling Harbour.

dragon boat races, sydney chinese new year festival
Image from Sydney Chinese New Year Festival website.

When: Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 February 2013.
Where: Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour
Cost: Free
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Why? It's the biggest Chinese New Year festival outside mainland China.
When: From Friday 8 February to Sunday 24 February 2013.
Where: Various venues. See article and website for details.
Cost: Varies. Most events are free.
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