Curated by Festival Curator Claudia Chan Shaw, and featuring the work of some of our most exciting contemporary artists, 12 incredible lanterns will form a path across our city.

What do we mean by ‘lantern’?


Imagine 12 huge glowing zodiac animals. There’s a sense of humour in the installations that is very Australian. Ever seen a monkey at the Sydney Opera House? How about three monkeys!?

Our lanterns will delight and amaze you, and are bound to make you smile.

And you can get involved. Pick your favourite. Pretend to ride the shimmering horse chariot, marvel at the giant dragon and see the happiest tiger in the heart of the city. And while you’re there, you can watch wonderful community performances.

Join family and friends to follow the trail across the Harbour, CBD and Haymarket/Chinatown and find your zodiac lantern as the whole city celebrates the Year of the Monkey.

Festival Curator Claudia Chan Shaw

Get the free Sydney Culture Walks app to discover all 12 Lunar Lanterns directly through your smartphone. Or, download a map (PDF 3MB). Now let’s find your lantern!

The Harbour Lanterns

JW_The Monkey

The Monkey Lantern at Sydney Opera House

The Monkey — Sydney Opera House

Cheeky, fun loving, inquisitive and wise, the Monkey is also charismatic, loyal and charming. Sydney is giving a very special welcome to the Year of the Monkey, with the spectacular Opera House providing a backdrop to our Monkey lantern.

Brought to you by St.George

Where to next?

  • EAT: Wine and dine inside the stunning Sydney Opera House at Bennelong, Cured & Cultured for $50 per person, part of Lunar Feasts.
  • SEE: Check out Monkey Business, an exhibition of Australian handcraft featuring ceramics, jewellery, glass, silk and fibre from the artisans of Craft NSW.
  • DO: See a 3D printer in action and print your own 3D monkey at Customs House Library.

The Dragon — Dawes Point

The Dragon is a creature of myth and legend, a symbol of good fortune and a sign of intense power. Against the magnificent backdrop of Sydney Harbour Bridge, artist Fan Dongwang has created a Dragon representing China’s emerging cultural identity.

Where to next?

  • EAT: Enjoy a delicious Chinese-inspired menu and a glass of bubbles for $30 per person at Eat Drink Opera House.
  • SEE: Take a guided tour of one of the world’s busiest performing arts centres – Sydney Opera House.
  • DO: Hit those high notes at karaoke on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with the Karaoke Climb.

The Rabbit — Customs House Square

Rabbits are friendly, outgoing and prefer the company of others. They also have exquisite taste in both dress and the arts. Customs House Square is home to a surprising scene, with 22 playful rabbits in elegant silk waistcoats, practicing Tai Chi.

Where to next?

  • EAT: Celebrity pastry chef Anna Polyviou puts a modern twist on tradition with a Chinese-inspired High Tea with divine East meets West creations.
  • SEE: See the Chinese New Year Concert at the City Recital Hall.
  • DO: Catch a one-off screening of The Monkey King in celebration of Chinese New Year in World Square.

The CBD Lanterns

Pic @jaym3s2 via Instagram

The Ox Lantern at Martin Place. Pic @jaym3s2 via Instagram.

The Ox — Martin Place & Macquarie Street

The Ox is known for its diligence, dependability, strength and determination. Sydney’s bustling Martin Place is home to a magic celestial ox, comprising hundreds of illuminated Mahjong tiles.

Brought to you by The Star

Where to next?

  • EAT: Feast on a delicious 6-course menu at Yayoi Garden for $50 per person.
  • SEE: Excite your senses with the interactive Happy Lunar New Year Exhibition, designed to create a mood of the dynamic spring. Check it out at the China Cultural Centre Sydney.
  • DO: Celebrate Chinese New Year from the highest point in Sydney! With lion dance performances, wishing walls, and more surprises set to be announced soon.

The Horse — Martin Place

The Horse is animated, active and energetic. They love to be in a crowd and to take centre-stage. Sydney’s Martin Place is home to our Horse lantern.

Where to next?

  • EAT: Enjoy a $30 meal deal that includes spring rolls, crispy skin chicken and steamed seasonal vegetables at Lotus – The Galeries.
  • SEE: Attend a fascinating talk on Chinese-Australian History in 88 objects at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.
  • DO: Join a special story time event at the Australian Museum and explore our wild exhibitions. Told in both English and Mandarin.

The Tiger — QVB Forecourt

People born in the Year of the Tiger are brave, competitive, unpredictable and self-confident. The magnificent façade of the Queen Victoria Building is home to a tiger with a difference.

Where to next?

  • EAT: Fat Buddha is offering sumptuous Chinese New Year Banquet for $55 per person, which includes chicken sang choi bow, garlic king prawns, seafood with fried rice and more.
  • SEE: The QVB celebrates Chinese New Year, Year of the Monkey, with a stunning oriental lantern display under the majestic dome.
  • DO: Discover the brilliance of Chinese opera with Monkey Magic – entertainment for both Chinese Cantonese opera lovers and non-Chinese speaking audiences.

The Rooster — Pitt Street Mall

Hardworking, resourceful, courageous and talented, Roosters are very confident about themselves. The Rooster’s bright vibrant colours perfectly represent its independent and quick-witted nature.

The Rat — Pitt Street Mall

The Rat is quick-witted, resourceful and ready to take advantage of every opportunity. Often looked down on, The Rat is a very positive sign of the lunar zodiac and takes price of place in Pitt Street Mall.

The Pig — Pitt Street Mall

Diligent and generous, the Pig has great focus and concentration in achieving their goals. Inspired by the motherly nature of the pig, this patchwork pig is a delight to behold with her piglets.

Brought to you by Seven News

Where to next around Pitt Street Mall?

The Chinatown Lanterns

The Snake Lantern in Chinatown. Pic @jaym3s2 via Instagram.

The Snake Lantern in Chinatown. Pic @jaym3s2 via Instagram.

The Goat — Chinatown

Wise, dependable, and calm, The Goat is also creative and compassionate and fond of the quiet life. Sydney’s Chinatown is home to the Goat lantern. This magnificent lantern has been brought from Guangzhou, our Sister City in southern China. This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of this relationship, with a delegation joining our Chinese New Year Festival to take part in our celebrations with us. Welcome!

The Snake — Chinatown

The most enigmatic animal of the twelve zodiac signs, the snake is private, wise and intuitive. Inspired by the ancient art of Chinese basket making, this magnificent lantern is reminiscent of a snake charmer’s basket.

The Dog — Chinatown

The Dog is loyal and honest amiable and kind, although they are not always good at communicating.  Resplendent in Chinese fabric, the Dog lantern is playful and cute. Who doesn’t love a puppy?

Where to next around Chinatown?

  • EAT: Enjoy a set menu consisting of an entrée, soup, two mains to share, dessert and a glass of wine for $30 per person at Nine Dragons Restaurant.
  • SEE: Learn about the traditional Chinese artform of Cantonese Opera, involving music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics and acting.
  • DO: Discover Chinatown’s rich history as you explore the streets through a historical walking tour.

Want more?

  • Watch 12-metre Dragon Boats battle it out to the pounding of drums.
  • Ever wanted to play mahjong like a pro? Learn to play while being served delicious dim sim in a fun and informal atmosphere.
  • Enjoy a cuppa? Come along to a Chinese tea ceremony and find out what the art of drinking tea really means.

See all the Lunar New Year celebrations on offer in our city including feasts, talks, workshops and more.