(7pm, Friday 8 February 2013, Belmore Park)
Thank you Zhou Li and Ricardo Goncalves. Hello, everyone - welcome to the launch of our 2013 Chinese New Year Festival. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.
A special welcome this evening to:
- His Excellency Duan Jielong, Consul-General of the People's Republic of China in Sydney
- Han Xinyuan, Deputy Director General, representing Shenzhen Administration of Culture, Sports and Tourism,
- Councillor Robert Kok, Chair of the Chinese New Year festival Advisory Group
- Maurice L Newman AC, Chairman of Taronga Zoo, and
- Michael Ehrentraut, General Manager PHI Retail, Medibank
And welcome to all of you taking part in this 17th festival, celebrating the Year of the Water Snake.
There'll be all the events we traditionally enjoy: the New Year Markets which will run in this park until Sunday; the magnificent Twilight Parade, with light projections and fireworks on Sunday February 17, and the Dragon Boat Races which conclude the Festival at Darling Harbour on the weekend of February 23 and 24.
There are also some fabulous new events, including a revival of the Dragon Ball, which will be held in our beautiful Centennial Hall at Town Hall. From the 1930s to the 1970s, the Dragon ball was a major fixture on the Chinese social calendar and we're bringing it back with the fabulous Dragon Ball big band.
The new Dragon Ball will have all the glamour of the past, fused with a contemporary edge. It'll be a great occasion. Get your tickets fast.
There is also a stunning exhibition - Snake Snake Snake - on show in the Lower Town Hall until February 23. It shows the range and depth of artistic exchange between Australia and China, Vietnam and Korea.
Another new event, Lunar Feasts, will be served up in restaurants across the CBD for the duration of the Festival.
We welcome this year the visiting delegation from Shenzhen, once a small fishing village, now a major city in Guangdong Province, just north of Hong Kong, and China's largest land passenger port.
You can sample some excellent Shenzhen food here at the markets, see their stunning stage performances at the markets over the weekend and watch their spectacular entries in our Twilight Parade. Please make them welcome.
I also urge your support for our Festival Charity Partner, the Taronga Foundation, to help them support conservation in the wild - especially, in this year of the Snake, where 20 per cent of the world's reptiles are endangered or vulnerable.
I want to thank all those who support this great Festival, especially:
- The Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Sydney and His Excellency Duan Jielong for their help in bringing our international participants to the Festival
- The Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China
- Shenzhen Municipal Burea of Culture, Sports and Tourism
- Our Principal Sponsor, Medibank
- Our Major Sponsors, The Star and AYAM
- Our Media Partners, the Daily Telegraph, SBS, 2DayFM and TVBA
- Our Government Partner the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority
- Supporting Sponsors Holden, Lebara, Sydney Airport and Sydney's Paddy's Markets
- Corporate Sponsor Slater & Gordon
- Sydney's Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese associations
- Councillor Robert Kok, Chair of our Chinese New Year Festival Advisory Group and the
- Festival Director Gill Minervini and our brilliant City of Sydney Events Team who do an outstanding job every year in staging this fantastic festival.
Thank you all and Happy New Year, everyone!
Kung Hei Fat Choy!