A massive street party and colourful arches along the light rail line will herald the start of the lunar new year as Sydney celebrates with its biggest ever Lunar Festival.
The streets, laneways and squares of Chinatown, Haymarket and Darling Harbour will be transformed with free performances, markets and carnival rides for Lunar Lanes on Saturday 25 January.
The event marks the start of the Lunar New Year and 16 days of Sydney Lunar Festival celebrations from the City of Sydney.
This year Sydney will see three lunar gateways dotted along the newly-opened light rail corridor at Customs House, Martin Place and the QVB forecourt.
The large-scale arches represent the traditional cultures of Korea, China and Vietnam.
2020 is the Year of the Rat, the first sign of the 12-year lunar zodiac cycle. Considered a year of new beginnings, it also marks the start of a new decade.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the auspicious Year of the Metal Rat was a wonderful opportunity for all communities to come together and celebrate.
“As the biggest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside Asia, we have drawn on Sydney’s diverse cultures – including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian – to create this exciting festival,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Over the years we’ve seen the festival grow from a small community event in Chinatown to one of the largest lunar celebrations in the world – so I’m looking forward to the Lunar Lanes celebrations returning to the place it all began 24 years ago.
“Each year this festival gets bigger and better. In 2019 it attracted close to 1.5 million people who spent nearly $42 million, which is a wonderful boost for our local economy.
“We’re proud to present a world-class event that will draw people from around the globe to mark the start of what is considered a particularly lucky new lunar year.”
Festival curator, artist Valerie Khoo, said this year’s celebrations will feature more than 100 events across Sydney.
“I’m thrilled to see such a diverse program come together. From our laneway party on opening night to community dance performances and the famous dragon boat races at Darling Harbour, there’s truly something for everyone,” Ms Khoo said.
“This year’s entertainment includes a troupe of 24 performers and musicians from the north-western Chinese province of Shaanxi. We’ll also see Seoul’s number one b-boy group, MB Crew, who performed at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“Another highlight of the 2020 Sydney Lunar Festival will again be the Lunar Lanterns exhibition, with 12 larger than life illuminated artworks representing the animal signs of the zodiac.
“I know everyone’s going to be blown away by the incredible metal rat artwork designed by the renowned Australian designer and artist, Claudia Chan Shaw.”
Ms Khoo has also designed a new rooster lantern, one of four new artworks that will be unveiled – alongside new horse and rabbit lanterns – on 31 January as part of the 10 night Lunar Lantern outdoor exhibition.
Speaking at the official festival launch, City of Sydney Councillor Robert Kok said the Sydney Lunar Festival events, exhibitions and performances represented the many cultures and communities of Sydney.
“We have such a tremendous range of talent in our wonderful and diverse city,” Councillor Kok said.
“It’s wonderful to be able to draw on that to create an event that reflects the many cultures thriving here in Sydney. Our Sydney Lunar Festival really is something quite special.”
The Fred Hollows Foundation is the official charity partner for the 2020 festival.
Speaking at the launch, deputy CEO Nick Martin said the foundation would continue its work across Asia in the Year of the Rat.
“Good eye health is universally important, but unfortunately, eye conditions that lead to poor vision and blindness are increasing around the world,” Mr Martin said.
“The Fred Hollows Foundation is working to meet the growing demand for affordable eye treatments and raise awareness of avoidable blindness.
“We love participating in events like the Sydney Lunar Festival – it’s a wonderful way to celebrate the diversity of our community and recognise important longstanding relationships.”