A sneak peek at the Sydney Lunar Festival 2021

Sydney will celebrate the Year of the Ox from February 12 with giant animal lanterns, Lunar Gateways, restaurant specials and performances

Written by
Time Out editors

Sydney’s Lunar Festival, marking the arrival of the Lunar New Year, will take over Haymarket, Circular Quay and the CBD as usual from February 12-21 – with a few differences.

City of Sydney will erect its suite of spectacular giant Lunar Lanterns that have been commissioned to various artists and represent the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. 

As it’s the Year of the Ox, Dixon Street Mall will have two brand new 2.4m high Ox sculptures, designed by Sydney-based artist Chrissy Lau, that reimagine the reliable Ox to be like the Japanese maneki-neko, or beckoning cat.

Another feature of Dixon Street Mall will be the Lantern Curtain – a display of 660 colourful suspended lanterns promising a high-impact day and night transformation of the space during the festival.

Special Lunar Gateways representing the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai communities will also be constructed for the festival in Martin Place, and illuminated at night. 

More than 80 associated events are included in the festival this year including community celebrations, concerts, exhibitions, theatrical performances, special restaurant menus, talks, workshops and tours (NSW Health guidelines permitting).

You’ll be able to see demonstrations of Cantonese opera, folk dance, calligraphy, tea ceremonies, painting and more. Get involved in a lion dance workshop, view exhibitions, and hear talks from members of the Asian community. 

On Saturday February 13, the one-hour Lunar Spectacular Show will take place on stage at Lower Town Hall. Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Indonesian community groups will take part in dancing, drumming and fashion shows. There are three performances during the day and tickets are free but must be reserved

The Rocks Lunar Markets are happening Friday to Sunday on Feb 12-14 and Feb 19-21, turning Playfair Street into an Asian street food festival including gifts, Mahjong, zodiac readings and an ‘Ox in a china shop’ display in Kendall Lane.

Restaurants in the city will be celebrating with special Lunar Feasts, and food fanatics can take a three-hour Tastes of Chinatown Food Tour guided by experts and including tastings (tour groups will be limited to 12 per tour).

The festival will be officially launched on February 9. And in case you’re wondering, the Year of the Ox in 2021 brings with it luck and rewards for those who work hard, according to the Chinese zodiac. It’s also a good year to focus on relationships. 

Love the city? Check out our brand new guide to things to do in the CBD.

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