This year Sydney will celebrate its 21st anniversary of hosting the biggest Lunar New Year festivities outside of Asia as we greet the Year of the Rooster. The annual celebration began as a much smaller community commemoration but has now taken over the city with decorations and events at every turn. The festival will showcase everything from ancient traditions to contemporary art so whether you're wanting to see, taste, or shop Asia, Sydney has it.
The Lunar New Year celebration will start on January 27 and end on February 12. Here is everything to see and do across Sydney.
The Lunar Lanterns, as the heart and soul of the Lunar New Year 2017, will be prominently displayed around the Sydney foreshore during the festivities. The light sculptures, designed exclusively by Asian-Australian artists, bring together centuries-old traditional design and contemporary interpretation. From January 27 to 29, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, and Town Hall will be lit red for the new year. To honour the new year the Lunar Lanterns Community Performance Program will showcase more than 1000 performers gathered into more than 40 performance groups at Customs House on January 27 and 28; and February 3, 4, 10 and 11.
The Sichuan Art Group will host a series of workshops on February 5 (4-7pm) to teach kids ancient art techniques in Dixon Street Mall. On February 3 and 4, visitors to the mall can enjoy cultural performances from the institute of Sichuan Opera and the Sichuan Provincial Puppet Theatre. The celebrated Chinese folk singer, Silan, will also feature at the Opera House on February 12 (8.30pm). Grammy and Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun joins the ranks of performers with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on February 11 (8pm) to mark the end of the festival.
Festival-goers around Kings Cross Library on February 4 (10.30-2pm and 2-2.30pm) can craft their own LED lanterns. At the Surry Hills library, visitors can meet the artists behind two of the giant lanterns, Tianli Zu and Guo Jian on the February 2 (7-8.30pm). Local shoppers and visitors can expect an interactive craft workshop on January 23-27 on Broadway (10am-9pm). This also includes a live art installation, lion dancers and giveaways.
Throughout the festival, Martin Place will be transformed into the Lunar Lantern Hub. The 50 metres of red glowing lanterns will stretch over pop-up stalls offering anything and everything Asia. In World Square, the Shaanxi Cultural Market also has pop-up stalls featuring handcrafts and tea sampling, from February 6 to 9, in addition to a Lion Dance Spectacular on January 30. There is a canopy of purple Royal Rooster Lanterns throughout Pitt Street Mall.
The prestigious Chinese Orchestra of China National Opera and Dance Drama will make its 2017 return to Sydney on February 6 (7.30pm) with the Treasures of a Nation at the City Recital Hall. The orchestra, comprised of over 50 musicians, will be led by the conductor Hong Xia. Tickets to the event at the hall are now available.
Celebrate the Year of the Rooster at the Art Gallery of NSW. Free events and exhibitions will be on show throughout the festival - including a lesson on Chinese tea ceremonies and the collection tracing signs of fortune.
Chinatown and Haymarket
Already popular for its endless shopping and dining experiences, Chinatown is the centre of the New Year celebrations. Beneath the Dixon Street Chinese New Year Lanterns, visitors can experience the Chinatown Markets on January 27 and February 3 and 10. The Chinatown Lion Dancers will be performing on Dixon street the nights of January 27, 28, and 29 (6 and 6.30pm) with additional performances by the Dixon Street Chinese Community on January 28 and February 5 (6pm). Throughout the festival, Dixon Street will also host the Pentatonic Rooster lantern.
Chinese Garden of Friendship
The Chinese Garden of Friendship offers visitors and residents a glimpse into Asian heritage and tradition throughout the entire festival. The traditional lion dance on the forecourt will mark the beginning of the celebrations on January 28 (11am-noon), followed by the opening of the Timeless exhibition by Nelson Lau. The Emperor's Quest, the 12 animals of the Chinese Lunar calendar, will be displayed around the garden as the Sword Performance and The Guiqin Performance delights visitors on January 28 (1-1.15pm) and 29 (2-2.30pm) respectively. For kids visiting the Garden on February 11, The Plucky Rooster Workshop (1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm) will provide a hands-on art experience.
Immerse yourself in the Lunar New Year with Tea Ceremonies and Tastings on January 29 (10.30-1.30pm), Seasonal Features Tour from January 28 to February 12 (11.45-12.30pm), and Chinese Garden Highlights Tour throughout the event (10.30am and 2.30pm). Stop by the Garden on the February 12 for Laughter by the Lake (2.30-5pm), an ancient practice believe to enhance balance, and write down your hopes and dreams.
Art comes alive in the Garden during the Lunar New Year. Go through and have a look at the Rickshaw Tales on February 4 and 5 (12.30-3.30pm), Chinese Brush Painting February 5 (10.30-12.30pm), and the Art in the Garden Workshop February 4 (9.30-5pm). Before you go, vote in the Penjing Competition for your favourite miniature landscape.
The Star casino has been decorated to reflect the ancient traditions of the Lunar New Year - down to the festival-long Mahjong Garden to hone your Chinese gaming skills (5-10pm). Throughout the festival, visitors can enjoy the Lunar Markets from January 27 to February 5 (5-10pm) at Pyrmont Bay Park, including the pop-up food festival. Royal Randwick will host The Star's Chinese Festival of Racing on February 4 and 11, while the Lunar New Year performances continues within in a daily performance running from the January 19 to the February 11 (from 7pm). Performers include Na Ying, exclusively on February 5 (8.15pm), and The Mandarin Band every Wednesday night (8pm).
Parramatta council hosts Lunar New Year celebrations at Centenary Square on February 3 (from 4.30pm). This includes Asian-inspired cooking demonstrations, contemporary performances and lantern workshops. For those in Blacktown on the same day, stop by the Narrangingy Reserve for all day live entertainment and rides.
The Lunar New Year festival at Rockdale will take place on Kings Street Palace on February 3 as part of their annual celebration while the Kogarah council hosts festivities at the town square on February 9 (10-4pm) with traditional lion dancers, entertainment, and food stalls. Hurstville remains the home for the largest celebration outside the Sydney CBD with the Hurstville Festival on February 4 (10-4pm) - a celebration that attracts more than 40,000 visitors.
Eastwood is the home of the City of Ryde's annual celebration - visitors can join in on the cooking competition on February 4 (11-1.30pm) and the Grand Celebration Day on February 11 (11-4pm). Eastwood's events are a co-operation between the local Chinese and Korean communities and attract 10,000 visitors. This year Willoughby council will host the traditional lion and dragon dancers - and more - in the Chatswood Mall on February 4 (10-4pm). Lane Cove will also provide festivities to those visiting Lane Cove Plaza on February 3 (4-6.30pm), while Hornsby RSL Club greets visitors with lion dancers and lucky envelopes on January 29 (from 6pm). Ku-ring-gai will host storytime and craft activities at the Turramurra Library on January 31 (4-5pm), and for those visiting the annual Sydney Hills Lunar Festival at Bella Vista on January 29 (12-9pm), expect to find traditional performances, firework, displays, and more.
The Inner-West Council will host celebratory events at Marrickville Town Hall on February 18 (11-4pm) and Ashfield Civic Centre on January 31 (from 11am). For those in Burwood, stop by the council's community event at Burwood Park on January 31 for Chinese brush painting and calligraphy workshops.
Revesby Workers Club will offer festival-goers live entertainment on January 27 to 29, while Campbelltown hosts a celebration at the Narellan Community Centre on February 14 (from 2pm). The Bankstown-Community Lunar New Year Festival will once again take place at the Saigon Palace on January 30 (4-9pm) with their annual eating competition and lion dancers. In the Cabramatta-Freedom Plaza on February 11 and 12 (9-4pm), visitors can enjoy the New Year around traditional folk music, firecrackers, and live entertainment while those in Fairfield will once again enjoy the annual festival fundraiser on Fairfield Showground on February 3 and 5 (5-10.30pm).