Thank you, Zhou Li and Ricardo. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land.
I'd also like to acknowledge the Hon Carmel Tebbutt, Deputy Premier of NSW; His Excellency Hu Shan, Consul-General of the People's Republic of China in Sydney; Chinese New Year Ambassadors Kylie Kwong and Dr Cindy Pan, City of Sydney Councillors and all our guests.
Welcome to the City of Sydney's 15th Chinese New Year Festival in this Year of the Rabbit. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are kind and loving, with grace, culture and beautiful manners - perhaps an inspiration to all of us who use the City!
This year's Festival includes over 60 events and exhibitions running for three weeks. It celebrates performing arts and food, exhibitions and tours, and there's a special focus on family-friendly events like the Chinese New Year Markets here in Belmore Park.
As always, the Twilight Parade will be a highlight, with 30 spectacular floats, live music, mass choreography, special lighting effects and magnificent costumes.
This year, 250 performers from Hubei Province in China will join the 2,500 local performers in the parade from over 40 community groups, local businesses and schools.
And of course, we welcome once again the participants from Sydney's Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities who all celebrate the Lunar New Year.
On behalf of all of us who enjoy these fabulous celebrations, I would like to thank: the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Sydney, especially His Excellency, Hu Shan [who-sun], for their help in bringing our international participants to the Festival; the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China; and the People's Government of Hubei Province for their part in creating this spectacular Chinese New Year Festival
I would also like to thank our sponsors: the NSW Government through Events NSW, who continue to support the City in developing the Twilight Parade into a global celebration with a great international profile; our Principal Sponsor, Medibank; Major Sponsors Volkswagen, China UnionPay and Ettason; Supporting Sponsors Sydney's Paddy's Markets, Lebara Mobile and CMC Markets; Media Partners 2UE, SBS and TVBA; Launch Partner Citigate Central Sydney; Government Partner the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority; and our Supply Partners, Chameleon Touring Systems, Bannershop, Australian Institute of Music and TAFE NSW.
On behalf of the City, I also thank the many Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese community associations, arts organisations and individuals who contribute so much to the success of these celebrations.
I ask everyone to be generous in support this year's Festival Charity Partner, the Fred Hollows Foundation, which does such fantastic work restoring sight to millions of people in China and Asia, as well as among our own indigenous communities.
Finally, warm thanks to: our Chinese New Year Festival Advisory Group, headed by Councillor Robert Kok, who donate the time and energy to make the Festival the success that it is; our Festival Ambassadors, Kylie Kwong, Lindy Hou, Dr Cindy Pan and Jackie Chan and our ever-creative City Events Team. Thanks, too, to all of you, for coming to celebrate the opening of the City of Sydney's 2011 Chinese New Year Festival.
Happy Chinese Year of the Rabbit, everyone! Kung Hei Fat Choy!