Lunar festivities show Sydney at its colourful best

08 March 2018

Destination Sydney

Iconic landmarks lit up in red. Lions dancing through the city. Giant lanterns illuminating the harbour. It can only be Chinese New Year in Sydney.

The city has been out in force and in colour over the last two weeks celebrating the start of the Chinese Year of the Dog.

Image credit: / Destination New South Wales

The size and scale of the festivities – the largest outside of Asia – reflect Sydney’s multiculturalism, and our state’s increasingly strong ties to China and Asia.

New South Wales (NSW) is now home to approximately half of Australia’s 500,000 Chinese-born residents, but the state has also seen huge growth in the number of international visitors from China over the years. More than 700,000 travelled to Sydney in 2016-17.

Corporate incentive events from Asia were responsible for a large proportion of these visitors, and look set to be so again in 2018. Over the next four months, Sydney will welcome some of the biggest companies in Asia, each bringing their highest performers to the city for their annual incentive event. These events will generate an estimated $66m for the local economy.

Sydney’s record of creating memorable and iconic experiences is a vital part of why businesses choose to return here time after time. Chinese New Year is just one such experience.

Celebrations began on 16 February, when the Harbour Bridge and Opera House were bathed in red to signal the start of the festival. Over the following 17 days, the entire city was a celebration of Chinese culture, food and traditions.

Image credit: BridgeClimb

In total, there were more than 80 events taking place around the city, many organised by BESydney’s Major Partner, City of Sydney. A key highlight of the festival was the 12 larger-than-life lanterns stationed around Circular Quay, each one dedicated to an animal sign of the lunar zodiac. The lanterns were designed by Australian-based artists of Asian descent, with this year’s lunar sign, the dog, taking pride of place.

Image credit: City of Sydney

Many of BE Sydney’s other partners took part in the celebrations.

Ever heard of Karaoke Climb? Those climbing the harbour bridge during the festival had a chance to belt out their favourite tunes 134 metres above ground as BridgeClimb hosted their sky-high karaoke booth. Climbers celebrated by singing songs related to fortune and luck in either English or Mandarin.

Your luck was also sure to be in at The Star, if you followed the ‘good fortune ribbon’. The ribbon led visitors to a host of lunar celebrations, including wishing trees, tunnels of good fortune, Chinese-inspired menus, lucky envelopes and a host of thrilling entertainment – including some breathtaking aerialists and ribbon dancers.

Across the harbour, visitors to Luna Park enjoyed three days of festive fun, with traditional lion dancing performances, a colourful firecracker show, a mouth-watering dumpling pop-up and a host of other activities.

Harbourside Shopping Centre had a real treat in store for film-lovers, as they screened some of the biggest and most popular Asian-themed movies of all time at their open-air cinema. These included House of Flying Daggers, Karate Kid and Kung Fu Panda. The films played out under a canopy of lanterns and Chinese décor; not to mention spectacular views over Darling Harbour.

And for those looking for a taste of China, the Shangri-La Hotel was the place to go. Their Chinese Fusion High Tea, created by MasterChef Australia’s favourite pastry chef Anna Polyviou, blended the best of east and west culture to create a sweet and savoury journey with a twist.

Congratulations to all our partners who helped make this such a fantastic Chinese New Year in Sydney, and created so many memorable experiences for those living here and visiting the city.

But the fun in the city doesn’t stop when the lanterns are put away. Sydney lights up again in May when we welcome Vivid 2018 and another three weeks of colour, lights and culture.

Personally, we can’t wait…