The City of Sydney has launched a week-long multi-cultural festival to celebrate a new year on the Lunar Calendar - the Year of the Pig.
Originally starting as just a village celebration in Chinatown, the festival is now in its 22nd year and has become the largest outside Asia.
This year, the City of Sydney has changed the festival's name from “Chinese New Year” to “Lunar New Year” to be more inclusive of countries outside China - like Singapore, South Korea, Laos and Vietnam, which also honour the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
Speaking at the festival's launch on Sydney Harbour, Lord Mayor Clover Moore noted that last year 1.3 million Australians were involved in the celebrations, and that number continues to grow.
The story of Chinese immigration in Australia goes back to the Gold Rush of the 1800s.
Until recently, most migrants were from China’s southern province. So the way Australia celebrates the Chinese New Year is largely based on Cantonese traditions, like the lion dance.
Dancers from the Chinese Youth League’s Lion And Dragon Dance School in Dixon Street, performed at the opening. Before they began, officials symbolically dotted the lions’ eyes to "give them sight".
Brandon Vu, one of the lion dancers, has been dancing for more than three years. He started thanks to his brother: “My older brother did it first, he was pushing me to do it as well and I was like 'I don’t want to', but then one year I had a lot of free time and thought, 'I’ll see how it goes'.”
He says his favourite thing about lion dancing is that, “... it’s really fun, because it’s a pretty unique skill.”
The pig is the 12th and last animal in the Chinese zodiac. Pigs are a symbol of wealth and prosperity. The pig's chubby face and big ears are a sign of good fortune, while children born this year are said to be imbued with the characteristics of gentleness and optimism.
Festivities continue until February 10, with details of all events on the City of Sydney website.
The animals of the Chinese Zodiac will line Circular Quay until February 10. (Image/Eleanor Harrison-Dengate)