Willoughby City Council is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit as part of its 2023 Lunar New Year celebrations, encouraging visitors to leap in and discover the culinary delights, entertainment and art experiences on offer in Chatswood from 18 January to 12 February, 2023.
Named in honour of the 2023 Chinese zodiac sign, the Chatswood Year of the Rabbit Festival will feature a wide range of multicultural events, an exciting hunt for giant inflatable rabbits, as well as lantern workshops and parades, concerts, night markets and more.
Thanks in part to funding from Multicultural NSW, this year’s festival will be jam-packed with new attractions and events 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.
“This vibrant festival embraces our rich and diverse population as it provides an important opportunity to share stories and experiences in an exchange of cultural enrichment and greater understanding. From tasting Lunar New Year delicacies to enjoying an array of cultural experiences, artworks and performances, the festival supports our many local businesses and showcases Chatswood’s accessible and vibrant culture,” said Willoughby City Council Mayor Tanya Taylor.
During the festival, artists and performers will showcase their culture as they make way for a year of elegance, peace and a dash of luck. The Chatswood CBD will come alive with live entertainment, activities and an all-day market on 21 January, the Chinese New Year Celebration Day.
Here are just some of the key highlights on the 2023 Festival program
- Rabbit Sculpture Trail (18 January–12 February): Eight large-scale inflatable rabbits will feature across Chatswood’s CBD, evoking a sense of wonder while raising questions about our relationship with the natural world, in a whimsical nod to the Year of the Rabbit. The rabbits, created by artist Amanda Parer, have been exhibited in almost 300 cities around the globe since 2014 and enjoyed by millions, capturing media attention wherever they go.
- Lunar New Year Comedy (Sunday 22 February): Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural comedy event, the Festival will again host a comedy night showcasing some of Australia’s best comedic acts. The special line-up of Asian-Australian excellence will be announced in the coming weeks.
- Inner Edge Drifting Exhibition (18 January–12 February): Presented at Willoughby’s Art Space on the Concourse, this exhibition explores the ‘third cultural space’ experienced by people who have Asian roots and live in Western cultures as they navigate multiple traditions, influences and values. The showcase of more than 10 Australian artists, whose works have featured at prestigious galleries around the country, will be announced in the coming days.
- East Meets West Outdoor Concert (Sunday 29 January): Previously a ticketed event, this ground-breaking concert from the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra will now be free for thousands to enjoy. It will feature a spectacular line-up of classical music from East to West.
- Twilight Lantern Parade (Saturday 5 February): There will be dozens of free lantern-making workshops across the Festival, culminating in a spectacular Twilight 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 Chatswood Mall.
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, as well as Saturday 21 January. Festival-goers can also enjoy a curated food trail highlighting the best places to eat and drink in Chatswood, from hidden local haunts to revered foodie favourites.