Lunar new year sure to be a cracker

Sydney Lunar Festival kicks off January 25

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ON THE SPECTRUM: Red is a popular colour in Chinese culture, symbolising luck, joy, and happiness - and there will bit a lot of it around Sydney this month and next.

ON THE SPECTRUM: Red is a popular colour in Chinese culture, symbolising luck, joy, and happiness - and there will bit a lot of it around Sydney this month and next.

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Year of the Rat extravaganza to include lanterns, dragons and a tower of golden rodents.

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THE LANEWAYS of Sydney's Chinatown will come to life for a night of stalls, concerts, street performances and free activities, kicking off 16 days of celebrations to mark the city's 2020 Sydney Lunar Festival.

For the first time, Lunar Lanes will weave through the streets of Chinatown to Darling Harbour on Lunar New Year's Day, linking historic Haymarket with the new harbourside precinct.

More than 95 events are planned for the celebrations, which will run from January 25-February 9 and mark the start of the Year of the Metal Rat.

Other highlights include the Lunar Spectacular show, Lunar New Year Fair, LED lion and dragon dances, and dragon boat races.

As the biggest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside Asia, the festival welcomes tourists from around the world, as well as Sydney's Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian communities.

More than a million visitors are expected.

The celebrations will feature close to 100 community events.

STANDING GUARD

Designer Claudia Chan Shaw has created an eight-metre tower of nine golden rats that will stand guard over Sydney Harbour as part of the Sydney Lunar Lanterns display.

Ms Shaw says her love of collecting toys and her own heritage inspired the display.

"The busy, curious, gregarious nature of the animal provided the inspiration to present the rats as fun and cute mechanical wind-up robot-like creatures," she said.

"Each rat is gold, to reflect 2020 as the Year of the Metal Rat. For the Chinese, gold or yellow is the also the colour of heroism.

"I am also a collector of tin toys and robots from the 1950s and '60s, so to create my own robot rat is so special to me."

The Fred Hollows Foundation is the new charity partner for the 2020 festival.

The Year of the Metal Rat is the first sign of the lunar zodiac and heralds the start of the 12-year lunar calendar cycle.

The metal in its name comes about because each year of the zodiac is marked by one of the traditional Chinese five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

The previous Year of the Metal Rat was in 1960.

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