Sydney is being transformed into a vibrant open-air gallery with art celebrating Asian cultures on proud display to usher in the Lunar New Year.
Sydney Lunar Festival begins on Saturday and will welcome the Year of the Dragon, an animal that symbolises good luck, great power and intelligence in Asian cultures.
Among the artworks are 12 zodiac lanterns, a bespoke dragon adorning the light rail, banner galleries and children’s roar-some illustrations.
“Our city is a canvas and after painting the town in Christmas and New Year Eve’s colours, we’re ready to welcome the Year of the Dragon with the Sydney Lunar Festival – one of the biggest Lunar New Year festivals outside Asia,” Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore AO said.
“One in six people globally celebrate this date and our festival is vitally important to our Asian communities. We’re so excited to host it again for the 28th year running.
“Every year, our employees work tirelessly to make this festival great. But our work doesn’t stop there – last year Council unanimously approved a $44 million strategy that’ll revitalise Haymarket and Chinatown and bring the area back to its former glory.”
Colourful lanterns representing the 12 zodiac animals will be on display along George Street throughout the festival. The 12 animals combine modern shapes, traditional aesthetics and colours like deep reds which denote luck in Chinese culture.
The lanterns and floral plinth artworks were designed by artist Erika Zhu and manufactured by the multidisciplinary dplr team.
“Stylistic-wise, I leaned towards softer rounded outlines to evoke a friendlier and welcoming vibe, a gesture of open arms to the Asian-Australian community in a moment of celebration for the Lunar New Year,” Erika Zhu said.
The lanterns will sit on top of solar-powered illuminated plinths and will be a feature of future festivals as they’re reused in line with the City of Sydney’s sustainability efforts.
For the first time, the City of Sydney has collaborated with the NSW Government, Transdev and artist Andrew Yee to cover a light rail with a dragon that will fly along the tracks throughout the festival.
"My artwork intends to capture generations of Haymarket’s community, tied together by the idealism of the dragon. With the announcement of Chinatown’s $44 million upgrade, the potential for change is brimming with optimism. It is the perfect time to recognise the community’s storied history and carry its significance into the future,” Andrew Yee said.
The Lunar banner galleries return in 2024 with the creations of Chrissy Lau, Dongwang Fan, Yonny and William Tse, and Yuqing Wei. Their creations will fly proudly in Circular Quay and along George, Sussex and Harbour streets.
22 drawings by children aged between 5 and 11 years old have been shortlisted from a field of more than 700 entries and will feature on plinths along George Street.
Each year also has an element associated with it, and in 2024 it is the Year of the Wood Dragon. In Dixon Street Mall, a 5m-tall wooden dragon will rise in the air, appearing and disappearing between neon-lit clouds. The creation was inspired by Chinese artist Chen Rong’s renowned handscroll painting, Nine Dragons from the year 1244.
Sydney Lunar Festival runs from 10 to 25 February with more details on associated events available at sydneylunarfestival.com
More details about the program of events will be announced at the Sydney Lunar Festival official launch on Thursday.
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