Cairns's Chinese community rings in Year of the Snake
HUNDREDS of explosive red firecrackers will light up Grafton St tonight, ushering in massive celebrations for Cairns's Chinese community.Though the Year of the Snake officially begins tomorrow, tonight's street festival is the jewel in the crown of 2013 celebrations, with more than 10,000 people expected to line the street, which was once a bustling Chinatown.
"The street festival is our biggest celebration during the 15-day Chinese New Year period," festival co-ordinator Nathan Lee Long said.
"It is a tradition that has been done for many years and to take it back to the street is quite exciting. I feel it is very important to highlight the culture of Chinese heritage in parts of Cairns and a great way to promote Cairns to our visitors in the Chinese market."
The festivities will be steeped in tradition, but a colourful combination of Chinese and Australian culture promises to thrill revellers.
Kicking off with the Take Five band at 3pm followed by the arrival of the Dragon Parade, a steady stream of performances including Chinese drumming, Molihua and lion dancers, kung fu, belly dancing, didgeridoo and indigenous dance, a juggling contortionist and even a hip-hop lion will entertain until the fireworks finale at 9pm.
"We recognise that Cairns is a multicultural community and Chinese New Year is a great way of showing that multiculturalism in the area," Mr Lee Long said.
"We welcome all kinds of arts to join in the celebration. The awakening of the new lion and the awakening of the new dragon will be highlights and this year, there will also be artwork created onstage to music. The most traditional parts are the lion dance performances and the firecrackers."
Atherton's Chinatown, at the site of the 110-year-old Hou Wang Temple, will hold a free family fun day tomorrow from 11am to 4pm, with Chinese astrology, a Queensland Dragon display, face painting, jumping castle, electric crackers, fortune cookies and more.
"Hou Wang Temple is 110 this year and a lot of people don't realise how significant it is," Atherton Chinatown manager Rhonda Micola said.
"It is the only one outside of China dedicated to Hou Wang."
Innisfail's Lit Sing Gung Temple on Owen St will host an annual free morning event from 10am to noon, with lion dancing, tai chi, kung fu, Chinese singing and traditional New Year food.
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Light year: The Chinese New Year Street Festival begins tonight on Grafton St in Cairns. Festival co-ordinator Nathan Lee Long and Mary Low prepare for the celebrations. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS