Sydney Opera House was turned red in spectacular fashion on Friday night

Sydney is celebrating its 21st anniversary of hosting the biggest Lunar New Year festivities outside of Asia this year.

Chinese New Year celebrations went into full swing around Australia on Saturday as about one fifth of the world’s population rings in the year of the rooster.

More than a million local and international visitors are expected to attend the 17-day event, with festivities stretching from the stairs of the Opera House to the streets of China Town.

Sydney landmarks, including the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Town Hall will glow red for the first three days of the festival – symbolising good fortune and joy in the year of the Rooster.

Roosters are one of the most colourful signs of the Chinese zodiac: Bright, charming, frank, resourceful and confident, the word ‘cocky’ can often sum them up.

Giant zodiac animals have been installed throughout the city as part of the Lunar Lanterns exhibition.

The 12 lanterns, some up to 10 metres high, were created by contemporary Chinese Australian artists including Tianli Zu, Laurens Tan and Hu Min.

In a message read by Victorian Senator Jane Hume, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wished everyone a wonderful Chinese New Year and said the traits usually associated with the rooster sign – confidence, motivation and assertiveness – bode well for the year ahead.

Victoria’s Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott also praised Australia and Victoria’s strengthening relationship with China and the links between the countries.

“In Victoria we know that multiculturalism and diversity is our greatest strength,” he said.

Sydney turns red for Chinese New Year

In Sydney, the full program for Chinese New Year 2017 runs from January 27 to February 12 and was ignited on Friday night when the Sydney Opera House was turned red in spectacular fashion.

“The Chinese New Year will be colourful, it will be noisy, it will be a lively celebration, and I hope Sydney will join us in this wonderful celebration,” Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said.

The program of events will include dragon boat races, community performances, workshops, and red lights on the Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Town Hall.

Sydney landmarks will be lit up in auspicious red to banish bad fortune, colourful lanterns will line the harbour foreshore and a huge program of events will run over the course of the 17-day festival.

Melbourne celebrates Chinese New Year Festival

Melbourne marked the start of Chinese New Year Festival on Satuday with lion and dragon dances at a ceremony in the city’s iconic Federation Square.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten told the crowd gathered that the celebrations were but one example of the many contributions Chinese migrants have made to Australia. “It’s good to celebrate the Chinese community,” he said.

“I cannot imagine Australia without our Chinese community.”

Celebrating in the year of rooster. #chinesenewyear #chinesenewyearsydney #sydney #sydneyvibes

A photo posted by Oat Jinnawat (@4jinnawat) on