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10 Top Reasons to Visit Sydney for Chinese New Year 2013

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by Lionel (subscribe)
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Published January 11th 2013
10 Top Reaons to Visit Sydney for Chinese New Year 2013

Image courtesy of City of Sydney

Sydney is known for its world-class events and the Chinese New Year Festival is one of them. Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the City of Sydney shared some insights with me which explained why this much-loved fixture on Sydney's cultural calendar is a major drawcard for residents, interstate visitors and international tourists year after year. Here are 10 reasons to welcome the Year of the Snake with the City of Sydney's 2013 Chinese New Year Festival.

World-Class Festival

Lord Mayor Clover Moore / Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

Lord Mayor said the Chinese New Year Festival, which started 17 years ago, was "just a small community event in Chinatown attended by a few hundred people". It became a celebration of Sydney'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". Over the years, it has attracted thousands of people to Sydney.

In 2012 alone, the Festival brought at least 100,000 people to attend the parade, and more than 600,000 people across all festival events. An estimated 150,000 people from China and across Asia also visited Sydney. It was the biggest Chinese New Year Festival on record. It has been bringing a major boost of approximately AUD7 million to the local economy.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore was pleased to share that Sydney's Chinese New Year Festival has "become one of the
biggest celebrations of the Lunar New Year throughout the world" making Sydney one of the 5 best cities to celebrate this major Chinese festival internationally.

More than 80 Events

From 8-24 February, the Chinese New Year Festival promises to bring Sydney's streets to life with more than 80 events.

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

13-year veteran of the Festival and City of Sydney's Creative Director of Events, Ms Gill Minervini shared that the City was "delighted by the enthusiasm with which the people of Sydney, and visitors from all corners of the globe", embraced its Lunar New Year festivities each year. This reception inspired Ms Gill and her team to "keep coming up with great events and activities" that highlighted Sydney's wonderful and diverse community and they are "looking forward to making sure the Year of the Snake has a spectacular start".

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

Sydney is preparing to come to life with an arts and culture festival for everyone, with annual favourites including the Chinese New Year Markets and Twilight Parade. The City of Sydney will also be introducing new events like the Dragon Ball and Lunar Feasts. For the full range of events, please visit: Each tab (entertainment, food, arts, talks and tours etc) has a complete list of events in that category.

Shenzhen, Partner City 2013

Photo by yuan2003 of flickr

Each year, the City works with the Chinese Consul-General in Sydney to determine a city or province to participate in its annual Chinese New Year Festival. Shenzhen has been selected as the Chinese partner city for the 2013 celebrations.

Photo by soundingblue of flickr

It is a major city of more than 10 million people in the south-eastern province of Guangdong, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. It is also one of China's most successful Special Economic Zones (SEZs). A delegation exceeding 120 performers from Shenzhen will take part in Sydney's Chinese New Year Festival.

Chinese New Year Ambassadors and Supporters

Bowie Wong / Photo by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer of Flickr

The City of Sydney's 3 Chinese New Year ambassadors for 2013 are haute-couture fashion designer Bowie Wong, Adam Liaw, winner of Masterchef Australia and TV presenter, and Marita Cheng, 2012 Young Australian of the Year.

Adam Liaw / Photo by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer of Flickr
Each of the ambassadors are participating in festival events relevant to their background and profile. Adam Liaw, for example, will conduct cooking demonstrations at the Chinese New Year Markets in Belmore Park. Bowie Wong will be designing a series of costumes for performers at the Dragon Ball.

Beyond the specific event participation, the ambassadors will also be promoting the Chinese culture by sharing their stories with the rest of Australia. They are combining their Asian heritage with modern Australia where they have lived and grown up in.

The 2013 Chinese New Year Festival is proudly supported by Principal Sponsor Medibank, Major Sponsors AYAM and, Media Partners The Daily Telegraph, SBS, Government Partner Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, and Charity Partner Taronga Foundation. Monies raised throughout the Festival will contribute to the Taronga Foundation's conservation work and research into the Oenpelli python, a rare and vulnerable snake that is a special totem for Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land.

Chinese New Year Markets and Festival Launch

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

From 8 to 10 February, Belmore Park will be transformed into a pop-up Asian night market with local Asians and visitors from Shenzhen operating more than 40 stalls.

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

Entry is free to the public and some of the daily activities include food stalls, cooking demonstrations, film screenings, art and craft workshops, karaoke competitions and Asian pop music.

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

The Chinese New Year Festival will be launched on 8 February accompanied by dancing dragons, live performances, firecrackers and non-stop music from across Asia by the SBS PopAsia crew to keep the party going till late.

Snake Snake Snake Contemporary Art Exhibition

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

From 5 to 24 February, Sydney Town Hall will host a free exhibition featuring emerging and established contemporary artists from Australia, China, Korea and Vietnam. The exhibition entitle "Snake Snake Snake" celebrates the rich cultural relations between Australia and its Asian neighbours with eclectic works that explore heritage, individual journeys, cultural issues and the concept of home. There will also be free artist talks and demonstrations. The exhibition will be open to the public from 12pm to 8pm daily.

Lunar Feasts

Chinese New Year meal / Photo by yewenyi of Flickr

You can't celebrate the Chinese New Year without festive food and seasonal delicacies. From 8 to 24 February, Sydney favourite Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants have come together with the City of Sydney to present the inaugural Lunar Feasts. Residents and visitors can enjoy delicious set-price meals including dumplings, noodles, barbecues and banquets to welcome the Year of the Snake with family and friends. Some of the participating restaurants include Blue Eye Dragon, Bodhi Restaurant, Chat Thai (Thaitown Branch only), Chefs Gallery, China Republic, Din Tai Fung, Fat Noodle, Misschu, Mizuya Japanese Restaurant and Karaoke, Ms G's, The Century, The Eight Modern Chinese Restaurant, Umi Sushi Udon and Zo Zo Korean Restaurant.

Twilight Parade

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

The Twilight Parade is the highlight of Sydney's Chinese New Year celebrations every year.

The much anticipated free annual event held on 17 February promises a cultural feast for the senses with famous snakes throughout history, live music, mobile floats, cultural costumes, martial artists, circus performers, zodiac lanterns, Chinese musicians and brilliant light projections.

More than 3,500 local and international performers including 120 artists from Shenzhen will be featured in this street spectacular. The parade route will start from Sydney Town Hall towards Chinatown and finish with a bang at Darling Harbour.

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

Dragon Ball

Returning after a 40-year absence is the much anticipated Dragon Ball. It was the premier event of the local
Chinese community's social calendar from the 1930s-70s where Chinese female performers made their debut while the audience enjoyed glamorous evenings of dressing up, food, dancing and music.

This new event will be directed by Kris Stewart, who previously worked on the Sydney Fringe Festival, New York Musical Theatre Festival and Festival of Voices in Tasmania.

Dragon Ball will feature a big band playing both traditional swing music and interpretations of contemporary songs, with great food and cocktails in Sydney Town Hall's Centennial Hall on 23 February from 7.30pm to midnight. Ticket prices range from AUD60 (general admission) to AUD70 (unreserved table seating), and are available via

Dragon Boat Races

Photo courtesy of City of Sydney

Close the Chinese New Year Festival with a roar of vitality and good luck with thousands of spectators and more than 3,000 paddlers on 23 and 24 February at Cockle Bay. Sydney's Dragon Boat Races is the largest dragon boat racing spectacular in the southern hemisphere featuring 12-metre long boats with the head and tail of a dragon.
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Why? Sydney is one of the world's best cities to celebrate Chinese New Year
When: Varies according to each event. Check website for actual dates, times and locations
Phone: (02) 9265 9333
Where: Sydney
Cost: Events are largely free to public
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