Chinese New Year Festival

Chinese New Year Festival

Sydney’s biggest ever Chinese New Year

More than 1 million visitors enjoyed over 70 events during Sydney’s 2016 Chinese New Year Festival, confirming its stature as the largest and most successful Lunar New Year event outside Asia.

The festival’s highlight event, the inaugural Lunar Lanterns, featured over 1,000 local performers attracting more than 6 times the visitor numbers previously associated with the City’s Twilight Parade.

Festival highlights include:

  • 67% increase in visitors to more than 70 events over 16 days
  • Over  735,00 visitors enjoyed Lunar Lanterns
  • more than 22 hours of live performances by 1,000 performers with 38 groups performing over 5 nights at the Lunar Lanterns, and community participants aged 3 to 90
  • 331 businesses attended the City’s Future Asia Business Summit, up 170% from 2015
  • from the Opera House to Chinatown, 40 restaurants across the city participated in Lunar Feasts, an increase from 30 in 2015
  • more than 3,000 paddlers took part in the largest dragon boat racing competition in the southern hemisphere
  • Chinatown’s 5m high goat lantern was created and gifted to Sydney from sister city Guangzhou as part of this year’s 30th anniversary celebrations
  • Since 1996, the City has produced 110 events for the festival, supported more than 670 associated events and hosted 11 delegations from China.

Lunar Lanterns, the first exhibition of its kind in Australia, featured 12 giant lanterns of the Chinese zodiac across the city from Circular Quay to Chinatown.  

Hundreds of participants from Sydney’s Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese communities, as well as international performers from China, took part in more than 22 hours of live performances at 6 of the main lanterns:

  • the Monkey at the Sydney Opera House
  • the Ox in Martin Place
  • the Tai Chi Rabbits at Customs House Forecourt
  • the Dragon at Dawes Point
  • the Goat in Chinatown
  • the Tiger at the QVB forecourt.

The City’s largest ever sponsorship was established with principal partner Westpac, helping turn the Sydney Opera House sails red, along with the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay station and Sydney Town Hall from 6–8 February.


Martin Place visitors enjoyed the Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub, featuring the Monkey Shoulder Whisky Bar and outdoor Mahjong lounge under a canopy of hundreds of red lanterns.

The City collaborated with Carriageworks to produce a Korean pop concert with boy bands, JJCC and Boyfriend.

The festival’s charity partner, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, raised more than $70,000 during the festival, making it the most successful charity partner relationship in the event’s history.

And there was an increase in Lunar New Year celebrations across Sydney with retail and business partner events, including Powerhouse Museum, Australia China Business Council, Westfield Sydney, Queen Victoria Building, The Galeries and World Square.

For the first time in the festival’s 20-year history, a festival curator and a new panel of experts advised on cultural, business and tourism opportunities. The new panel included members from Chinese community groups, cultural organisations, business groups, sporting associations, retail, hospitality and tourism sectors and creative industries in the local area.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports the number of Chinese visitors has more than doubled over the past 5 years and Sydney Airport expected up to 430,000 Chinese nationals to arrive during Lunar New Year.

According to Tourism Australia, Chinese tourism was expected to generate between $7.4 billion and $9 billion a year by 2020 but new estimates suggest this could top $13 billion.

Festival dates for 2017 are Friday 27 January through to Sunday 12 February. More information on the 2017 festival will be released in late 2016.


Chinese New Year Festival
02 9265 9333

For media enquiries, please contact:

Elaine Kelly
Senior Publicist
9265 9201


Last updated: Monday, 29 August 2016