Don’t miss this year’s Lunar New Year Celebrations bursting with colour, incredible cultural activities and offering mouth-watering cuisine – it’s all happening at Chatswood this February…
Willoughby City Council is celebrating the Year of the Dragon as part of its highly anticipated 2024 Lunar New Year celebrations, encouraging visitors to discover the culinary delights, entertainment and art experiences once again on offer in Chatswood from 1 February to 25 February 2024.
Chatswood’s Year of the Dragon Festival, named in honour of the 2024 Chinese zodiac sign, will feature a wide range of multicultural events, from a large-scale dragon sculpture, tasty treats, cultural experiences, lantern parades, music concerts, markets and more.
Last year’s Lunar New Year delivered a significant $10.2 million increase in visitor spending within the Chatswood CBD, representing an extraordinary 1 in $20 return on investment. Notably, $5.8 million of this expenditure was directed towards dining and entertainment, painting a vivid picture of the festival’s impact on the city’s cultural footprint.
The Chatswood Year of the Dragon Festival is proudly funded by the NSW Government, reflecting its commitment to fostering cultural diversity and understanding within the community. This year’s festival will be jam-packed with new attractions and events as well as the return of crowd favourites that will transport locals and visitors on a cultural journey of food, arts and entertainment with influences from China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, the Philippines and other destinations.
The quintessential Lunar New Year Celebration Day will be held on 3 February at The Concourse, Chatswood Mall and down the main street of Victoria Avenue. Chatswood will burst to life in colour and movement with lion dancers, performers, musical experiences, food stalls, and finishing with a Lantern Parade.
Chatswood is synonymous with world-class Asian food so this year’s Festival Eats food spots, sponsored by SBS Food, will see the city’s restaurants – from hidden local haunts to revered foodie favourites – serve up traditional dishes, new favourites and delicious desserts feasted upon during Lunar New Year. Participating restaurants will have a Festival Eats red sticker on their windows to encourage people to try new delicacies and expand their culinary horizons.
Willoughby City Council Mayor Tanya Taylor says the Chatswood Year of the Dragon Festival is a wonderful fusion of cultural celebration and economic stimulus that is a testament to the value it brings to the region.
“The Chatswood Year of the Dragon Festival attracts people to our city, providing exposure to our renowned food districts and positioning Chatswood as a significant local tourism destination with a leading food and entertainment hub within Sydney,” says Mayor Taylor. “Best of all, the festival embraces and celebrates our rich and diverse population.”
Here are some of the key highlights on the 2024 festival program:
- Soaring Dragon (1–25 February): The Soaring Dragon is an imposing art installation in the outdoor space at The Concourse. Suspended over the reflection pool the illuminated dragon will be mirrored against the surrounding glass, creating a continuous moving light show. McDermott & Baxter, experts in art installations in urban environments, have focused on creating an immersive experience that showcases the power, wonder and presence of the dragon zodiac to delight audiences in this public space.
- Lunar New Year Comedy Gala (Saturday 17 February): The Comedy Gala is now a mainstay in the Chatswood Lunar New Year celebration, and this year Netflix sensation Jason Leong will host the comedy night at The Concourse Concert Hall, showcasing some of Australia’s best comedic acts. The special line-up of Asian Australian excellence includes Diana Nguyen, Annie Louey, Harry Jun, Ting Lim, Kevin Jin, Chris Nguyen and Henry Yan.
- Lost in Shanghai (Friday, 16 February, The Civic Pavilion, Chatswood): Throughout her adventurous journalism career, one story has intrigued Jane Hutcheon more than any other: the story of her mother Beatrice’s turbulent childhood in pre-Communist Shanghai. Tapping into the power of storytelling she shares the tale of an ordinary Eurasian family in extraordinary times, set against a backdrop of images of fading colonial opulence and looming war.
- Passage of Night: Luminary Rising Exhibition (1-25 February): Presented at Willoughby’s Art Space on The Concourse, this exhibition examines the significance of the moon and how it is reflected across cultures. Often an object of wonder and contemplation, the moon is a unifying force that brings communities together. The exhibition showcases the work of Australian artists Frankie Chow, Maryanne Coutts, Emma Hicks, Karen Lee, Lindy Lee, Pamela Leung, Lawrence Liang and Jordan Ritchie, Miho Watanabe and Meng-Yu Yan, with more artists to be announced.
- Symphony in the Park – East Meets West – free outdoor concert (Friday 23 February): As the sun sets across Chatswood Oval, one of Australia’s most talented conductors and composers, Guy Noble, will lead the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra featuring emerging Australian-Chinese musicians and traditional Chinese instrumentalists including erhu players Fuhua Li and Yingdong Li, and liuqin/pipa player Ziyan Fan, in a performance of classical music from East to West. Bring a rug and sit back and enjoy this free concert.
- Lunar New Year Celebration Day and Lantern Parade (Saturday 3 February): The streets of Chatswood will be lined with food, craft and festive stalls from the train station down Victoria Avenue. There will be entertainment at The Concourse, including several lion and dragon dance performances. Free lantern-making workshops will run during the festival, culminating in a spectacular Lantern Parade that will close selected streets. The colourful, light-filled parade will start at Chatswood Place, with participants walking up Victoria Avenue and finishing at Anderson Street.
- Legends & Lanterns (Sunday 11 February): This magical one-off performance will bring together internationally renowned cellist Li-Wei Qin and violinist Harmonnia Junus, supported by Odyssey Symphony Orchestra and conducted by the Musical Director of the Australian Ballet, Jonathon Lo.
During the month-long festival, visitors can explore the popular Golden Market, featuring more than 35 unique stallholders selling a diverse range of delicious international foods, gifts and decorations, on Thursdays and Fridays, and make sure you don’t miss the Lunar New Year Celebration Day on Saturday 3 February.
For the full program visit: www.visitchatswood.com.au/LNY/Home
Images: Willoughby City Council