Sydney has seen its annual Chinese New Year Festival transform from a modest community affair to a spectacular celebration of light and life.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year has been part of Sydney culture for many years now, but for 2016, the Year of the Monkey, the city has something a little more impressive than usual planned. City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore unveiled an entirely new program for the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival that is sure to turn heads worldwide. 20 years on from its roots as a small community event, the festival has grown to become the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside of China and this time around it’s going to be more spectacular than ever before. Giant lanterns representing the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac will dominate some of Sydney’s most well known areas and guide festival goers through the celebrations toward their own zodiac sign.
“As Sydney embarks on a period of transformation, we are using this opportunity to revitalise and reimagine one of Sydney’s most-loved festivals to make it bigger and better than ever before. For more than 2000 years the lantern has been an important part of Chinese New Year celebrations and this ancient tradition will be brought to life in a modern, contemporary way as only Sydney knows how,” the Lord Mayor said.
Lunar Lanterns is set to be one of the highlight events of the Sydney Chinese New Year celebrations which will run from the 6th to the 21st of February. Sydney’s incarnation of the leading festival in the Chinese calendar draws over 600,000 visitors 80 different events across the city. Anyone considering a trip to the city in the early part of next year would be well advised to take this into account when crafting their travel plans - this is a side of Sydney that most visitors don’t get to see, and it’s guaranteed to be absolutely incredible.
The Lunar New Year celebrations are far from the only events that Sydney offers travellers however - take a look below for a small sample of what’s on offer in the first quarter of 2016.
Short + Sweet Theatre Sydney
Maybe theatre isn’t your kind of thing, but don’t write off Short + Sweet too quickly. This is a festival of 10 minute plays that will challenge everything you assumed about theatre and performing arts. Some of the stories told in the space of 10 short minutes will blow you away, and if there’s the odd one which isn’t quite as captivating - well, it’ll be over in no time at all. It’s a competitive festival, so make sure to book tickets for the finals so you can see the best of the best.
Sydney Mardi Gras Parade
If you want to unleash your wild side or just get caught up in a beautiful, swirling kaleidoscope of humanity, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is perfect place for it. It’s big, it’s bright, it’s bold but most of all it’s a joyous celebration of life and love that encompasses tens of thousands of participants and many more onlookers. Best of all, this is a totally free event, so no need to book tickets - just turn up with an open mind and happy heart and prepare to be amazed.
Taste of Sydney
For a completely different experience, take in the gastronomic delights on offer at Sydney’s premier food event. Discover delectable dishes you didn’t even know existed, test your culinary skills in hands-on cooking classes and pick up a few tips when you see the city’s top chefs in action. There’s even live music to give the whole event an almost celebratory air. This is a world class event and the best day of the year for Aussies who really appreciate good food and wine. 
2016 may seem like a long way away, but February’s Lunar Lanterns will be gracing Sydney streets before you know it, so when it comes to arranging your travel plans make sure to book early, so you can get the best deal possible. After all, with this calibre of events on the horizon for Sydney’s 2016, you don’t want to miss one moment.

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