SYDNEY, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-two years ago a number of local businesses, tourists and expats in Sydney's Chinatown wanted to find a way to wish one another good fortune and celebrate the Lunar New Year down under.
With a lot of help and hard work from community organizers, a very modest Sydney Spring Festival was born tucked away in one small street in the inner city suburb of Haymarket.
Two decades later, Sydney now hosts the largest Lunar New Year celebrations in the world outside of Asia, with the event not only regarded as a showpiece for Australia's rich multicultural success but also a significant economic windfall that generates millions of dollars for the local economy.
With more than 80 events now taking place in every corner of the city, including things like dragon boat races, giant lantern displays, fireworks and red fish banquets, it's expected that a record 1.6 million people will be on hand over the 16-day period to help celebrate and welcome the year of the dog.
But although the official launch began on Friday evening when the New South Wales State Premier Gladys Berejiklian flicked the switch that saw Sydney's iconic Opera House sails turn lucky red, one well-known Aussie decided to kick things off a little earlier.
Hugely popular social media star in China Amy Lyons, climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge on Thursday to live broadcast a karaoke rendition of the traditional Lunar New Year tune Xiao Xing Yun.
"The song was recommended by my fans," the Weibo star told Xinhua.
"I just wanted to show my followers in China the amazing things that Sydney has to offer, it's something I'm really passionate about."
Weekend crowds also flocked to a public guide dog graduation ceremony that allowed Sydneysiders to "hug a pup!"
The next two weeks of festivities are set to conclude with the world's largest dragon boat race that will see over 3,000 paddlers taking to Sydney Harbor.