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Sydney gears up for Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations

2018/2/13 10:09:28   source:China Plus

Australia's largest city, Sydney, is gearing up for the annual Chinese New Year's Festival – it's the largest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside of Asia.

We get more from CRI's Australia correspondent Qi Zhi.

The City of Sydney's festivities will kick off on February 16th, Lunar New Year's Day, with an opening night fireworks display at Sydney Harbor with the iconic Harbor Bridge glowing an auspicious red for 10 consecutive nights.

More than 80 events will be staged during the festival, which runs until March 4th.

Announcing the countdown to the start of the celebrations on Monday, Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, says she expects up to 1.4 million people to attend the celebrations.

"22 years ago the Lunar New Year festival started as a small community event in Chinatown. It has grown to last year, 1.4 million people came and we expect that will grow even more this year, because we have 80 events that are quite wonderful, quite diverse. There is something for everyone, whether they're interested in food, or in culture, or in sports. We expect it will be very successful."

This marks Sydney's 22nd Chinese New Year Festival.

It will include everything from art exhibitions and food events to live performances and dragon boat races.

One of the highlights is the traditional Lunar lanterns exhibition, which will feature, among other things, an animated dog lantern in front of the Sydney Opera House, as well as two giant dog lanterns that guard the entrance to Chinatown.

Lanterns representing the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac will light the Sydney Harbor foreshore from February 16th to the 25th.

To welcome the Year of the Dog, Festival Curator Claudia Chan Shaw says a canine-inspired program will dominate the celebrations.

"I've been curating the Chinese New Year Festival for three years now and every year when the animal is different, we try to have the characteristics of that animal in the festival. So not only do we have a fantastic, wonderful 8-meter-high dog at the Opera House and two 3.8-meter-high dogs stand in Chinatown, but we've got doggie events going on: there are talks about the yin and yang of the dog so people can understand the characteristics of the animal; there are some exhibitions at the craft center, all to do with the Year of the Dog, so there's this doggie event all the way through the festival."

This year's festivities will also include the largest dragon boat race in the Southern Hemisphere, with up to 3-thousand paddlers taking part in a two-day regatta, which will include more than 100 races on February 24th and 25th.

In addition, more than 200 performers and international delegates will be featured in the festival, taking part in traditional, contemporary and folk dances, choral performances, martial arts and lion dances.

Lion dance at the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Sydney, Australia, on February 12, 2018. [Photo: China Plus]

Lion dance at the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Sydney, Australia, on February 12, 2018. [Photo: China Plus]

Mayor Clover Moore says the festival is a good opportunity for the city to celebrate multiculturalism.

"The Chinese New Year (Lunar) Festival is incredibly important to us both culturally and economically. Culturally, because it gives us an opportunity to educate the rest of our multicultural community about a very large part of our community; and economically, it attracts a lot of tourists from around Australia and from Asia, because we're the largest festival outside Asia."

There are more than 510-thousand people of Chinese ancestry living in New South Wales, where Sydney is the state capital.

For CRI, this is Qi Zhi reporting from Sydney, Australia.

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