Good morning, everyone. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land.
Welcome to the launch of the City's 15th Chinese New Year celebrations - this year for the Year of the Rabbit - a sign which - in the Chinese zodiac - denotes endurance, beauty, peace and hope.
Our Chinese New Year Festival has grown into the biggest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside of Asia, and it blends the traditional with contemporary Chinese culture, as well as involving our local Korean and Vietnamese communities.
It runs from January 28 to February 13, with more than 50 events ranging from exhibitions to tours, sport, food, music, cinema and temple tours expected to attract over 600,000 people.
It's a family-friendly celebration, with plenty of events designed for children.
It launches at Belmore Park tomorrow night with a spectacular line-up of entertainment, including a stunning Wudang Martial Arts performance by visiting artists from Hubei in China. The only time most of us will have seen Wudang was in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The markets will continue over the weekend, with plenty of stalls and entertainment, a karaoke competition on Saturday and a big screen showing Chinese cinema on Sunday.
We'll also show the City's Live Green House with its array of sustainable living solutions for house and apartment-dwellers, and we'll have Chinese and English speakers on hand to talk about the benefits of living green.
On Sunday February 6, we'll stage another stunning Twilight Parade of well over 2500 performers - including the 250 visitors from Hubei - with a dazzling parade of acrobats, singers, dancers, community groups and live music.
It's a mega street event that is expected to draw more than 100,000 spectators as it weaves its way from Town Hall to Darling Harbour. This year the parade will focus on live music, mass choreography and special lighting effects, with new floats, beautiful costumes and 12 enormous Chinese New Year zodiac lanterns.
The final weekend on February 12 and 13 features the wildly popular Dragon Boat Races and will involve more than 2,000 paddlers over two days, with sporting teams on Saturday and social and corporate teams on Sunday battling it out for line honours.
It's a tremendous atmosphere, with spectators of all ages staking out their prime viewing spots and cheering on their teams.
The Chinese New Year Festival celebrates Chinatown as an important village in the City of Sydney - and one that is about to undergo some significant improvements in a number of streets and laneways.
After English, Mandarin and Cantonese are the two most common languages spoken in Sydney homes, and Chinese New Year celebrates the wonderful diversity of our Sydney population and the great contribution made by our Asian communities.
I'll look forward to seeing you all at the celebrations.