A SPECTACULAR snake goddess drawn from Chinese mythology will tower above George Street this Sunday night, kicking off the City of Sydney's Chinese New Year Twilight Parade.
According to Chinese legend, the half-woman, half-snake known as 'Lady White Snake' was betrayed and imprisoned by her mortal lover, before making a dramatic escape and returning to her heavenly realm.
As twilight descends this weekend, Lady White Snake will emerge from a giant snake head and rise high above the street, backed by a soundtrack fusing the traditional Chinese Lady White Snake opera and contemporary sounds.
Accompanied by 110 dancing 'snakettes', she will shed her skin in a symbol of renewal, leaving an 80-metre trail of 'snakeskin' in her wake.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said more than 100,000 people were expected to line the streets to celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Twilight Parade.
"Each year, the Twilight Parade is the highlight of our Lunar New Year celebrations," the Lord Mayor said.
"I encourage everyone to gather with friends and family and come along on Sunday night to help us ring in the Year of the Snake in spectacular style."
The free celebration will feature more than 3,500 performers from Australia and China - including 120 artists from Shenzhen, the City's official Chinese partner city for this year's festival.
The Parade will also include 22 colourful floats, live music, dazzling costumes and beautiful illuminated zodiac lanterns.
The festivities will start at 7pm as gathering crowds are entertained by roving performers including snake charmers, dancers and acrobats on ladders.
This will be followed by a traditional Chinese lion dance and eye-dotting ceremony to ward off evil spirits.
A host of Asian and Western snakes will come to life throughout the parade, including a 'lucky snake' float made from gold coins and red packets; a fluorescent 'snakes and ladders' board game complete with dancing dice and ladders on stilts; a giant rattlesnake, powered by bikes and accompanied by flamethrowers, cowboys and dancing cacti; and a glowing 'snake in the grass' float, covered in beautiful LED lights.
Women throughout history whose stories have been entangled with the snake will be celebrated in a special 'fashion victims' catwalk float, featuring Eve, Cleopatra and Medusa, accompanied by giant faux snakeskin handbags and shoes.
Visitors from Shenzhen will show off their skills and unique culture with traditional folk dancing, modern hip-hop performances and an award-winning high-school marching band, plus floats decorated with beautiful handmade paper lanterns and neon lights.
Visiting musicians and dancers from Korea will also take part in the parade, while 47 groups from Sydney's Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities - including opera singers, drummers, folk dancers and martial arts experts - will entertain the crowds.
Brilliant light projections will appear along the parade route on the Woolworths Building opposite Sydney Town Hall, the Summit Apartments on George Street and the Novotel Darling Harbour, transforming the city into a mini Hong Kong until late into the night. Spectacular fireworks will close the show with a bang.
Twilight Parade Director Gill Minervini said this year's parade would be the City's biggest and best.
"While snakes fill many of us with fear, in Chinese culture they are revered and play a central role in countless myths and legends about renewal and rebirth - so we have drawn upon these stories to create our most dynamic Twilight Parade to date," Ms Minervini said.
"With world-class pre-parade entertainment, a spectacular opening number starring Lady White Snake and hundreds of performers from Sydney's diverse Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities - there's something for everyone in this year's parade."
The Twilight Parade is a free event for all Sydneysiders and visitors; however, those wanting to secure a front-row seat can buy a ticket in the VIP sections outside Sydney Town Hall and the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Darling Harbour.
Limited seats are still available - to book, visit sydneychinesenewyear.com.
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