Lunar New Year is a key part of Chatswood’s social calendar. Each year, more than 50,000 guests head to the precinct to mark the new Chinese Zodiac calendar year. After a bumper inaugural year in 2019, the festival is returning for the Year of the Rat with a stacked slate of performances, demonstrations, exhibitions and food experiences [from 20 January to 8 February]. Overwhelmed with the vast line-up? This is your guide to the best events.
Get lost in the Golden Market
Visiting on a Thursday or Friday? Make your way through the Chatswood Mall, which has been transformed into a traditional end-of-year market found across Asia that typically sells new clothes in celebration of the New Year. This year, the Golden Market is bustling with stalls selling everything from luck-bringing bamboo to New Year decorations. If you’re hungry, dig into some delicious morsels from across Asia, with stalls offering dim sum, see goring and okonomiyaki amongst other delicacies.
Bring your appetite to General Chao
Follow your nose to Chatswood hotspot General Chao on Wednesday, 5 February for a special dinner with beloved chef and author Adam Liaw. Your menu for the evening has been carefully created by Liaw and General Chao’s executive chef Son Sewoo, and is set to plate up a banquet filled with flavours from around South East Asia and Japan, paired with local and international wines.
Get your art fix
Exhibitions from two photographers are on show during this year’s festival – one focusing on Sydney photographed by Chinese-born Grace Sui and the other on China by Sydney-born David Cubby. Everyday Dignity, focusing on day-to-day scenes from China, is on show in The Concourse, while Sui’s art, Where it Shines, is on at the Incinerator Art Space.
Don’t have a chance to get to the exhibition spaces? Follow the Chatswood Rat Attack trail, which features the silhouettes of 8888 rats, a very lucky number, designed by Bruce Slorach to lead you through the sights of the Chatswood CBD.
Welcome the new year
This is the big one – on Saturday 1 February Chatswood heralds in the Year of the Rat with one of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations in Sydney. A staple of the revelry for 22 years, the celebration incorporates a mix of music, demonstrations and performances. Expect to see tin won Chinese folk dance, Cantonese opera, lion dances and a face-changing opera performance, where singers change from one mask to another in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it secret movement.
A week later, join lion and dragon dancers and drummers as thousands line the streets of Chatswood for the Lunar New Year twilight parade, modelled on traditional street parades in China.
Take part in traditional Chinese pastimes
Ever fancied playing a game of mahjong? Now’s your chance, with instructors on hand to guide you through the rules using jumbo pieces adorned with Chinese Zodiac animals in the Chatswood Interchange.
If you find yourself needing a bit of extra luck this year, make your way to the Chatswood Library and watch calligrapher Xu Yun in action as he creates Hui Chun Chinese New Year posters before your eyes, with each featuring a lucky slogan wishing good fortune to be taken home.
Chatswood Year of the Rat Festival runs from 20 January to 8 February 2020. For more information, check out the festival program.