Gong Xi Fa Cai!

This 19th Chinese New Year Festival celebrates the Year of the Sheep. People born in the Year of the Sheep are said to be clever, tender, polite, creative and compassionate.

Our Festival, the largest outside Asia, includes 80 events presented by the City and various cultural and community groups. It all kicked off last night, when we turned on the lights of perhaps the most breathtaking item in the festival's history.

10978490_10152775317093892_1605153968286424793_nThe Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors feature 90 2.1 metre high warriors and two horses glowing in brilliant bursts of colour. The warriors, in Australia for the first time, will be stationed at Dawes Point until February 22. When I visited Xi'an with the City's delegation to China last year, I saw the original terracotta warriors and was awestruck - I'm thrilled to have our own army down by the Harbour and encourage you to go see them.

Tonight (Saturday), for a new event called Lunar Streets, we will be shutting down roads in Chinatown, Koreatown and Thaitown and laying out tables for you to grab a bite to eat and enjoy a street festival environment. Then on Sunday week, the Twilight Parade will unfold with floats, performances, light projections and fireworks.

This year's visiting delegation is coming from various parts of China and has been organised by the Ministry of Culture. There will also be over 1050 performers in the Parade from various art troupes and international university performances will be held at Town Hall and Angel Place Recital Hall.

This fantastic festival started nearly twenty years ago with a small community event in Chinatown attended by a few hundred people. It has since grown to become one of the biggest celebrations of the Lunar New Year throughout the world. It attracts hundreds of thousands of people to Sydney every year, creating a fantastic atmosphere and bringing a major boost to the local economy.

Our ongoing engagement in Asia, particularly with China, is a key to maintaining our global standing. While our Chinese New Year events are the most visual and public sign of our cultural ties, the City builds or economic, civic, social, educational and environmental relationship year-round. A closer relationship between our two countries presents enormous opportunities.

I hope to see you out enjoying the events, and wish you a prosperous Year of the Sheep!

Visit www.sydneychinesenewyear.com for more information.

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