I’ve written before about a number of Chinese festivals – like Chinese new year, (including Lantern Festival and Ren ri) Tomb sweeping day, and even Singles’ Day. There are many more I’ve never covered here, although I hope to get around to it one day. Learning about and participating in Chinese festivals was a great way to learn about the culture in which I was living. Now that I’m living in Sydney, it’s time for me to learn a little about the local culture here, so in the past week or so I’ve been to two local festivals!
Campsie Food Festival
I went on a semi-spontaneous trip to the 16th annual Campsie Food Festival! It celebrates the rich heritage of the Canterbury area, which is apparently home to people from over 150 countries. Around 15,000 people go each year! I went with three college friends (my Singaporean housemate and a Malaysian couple) and we had a great time! Part of the main street was blocked off and filled with at least 60 food stalls, selling all kinds of things from all sorts of places. There was food from China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, Vietnam, and several stalls selling different kinds of African food. And probably more I can’t remember right now. I pretty much just ate East Asian food on sticks though, hehe…. squid, tofu, lamb, dumplings, chicken, potato… mmm Chinesey kebabs!
I also had an egg tart and a Russian blini and more… I was pretty full by the time we left! But best of all, I found a restaurant I’d been told about – one that sells jian bing!! There was no sign saying they sold it (in Chinese or in English) but I’d been told the name of the restaurant and I saw the hotplate for cooking them and the ingredients right there so I just asked (in Chinese) and yay! One startled shop girl later and I was watching a jian bing being made for me to eat!!
The other festival I joined in on was Vivid Sydney – a festival of light, music and colour. It started out in 2009, as a way to boost business in winter. Now it apparently attracts more than 1 million visitors! From 6pm to midnight each night for two weeks light-up art installations (many of them interactive) and large-scale projections illuminate several areas of downtown Sydney. There are over 60 installations for Vivid Sydney 2015. Even a bunch of the harbour ferries get lit up!
I went into town with friends from college and wandered around taking in the lights of the Circular Quay/Rocks area. We started out watching the fun display called “Enchanted Sydney” – an 8 minute video loop projected onto Customs House. Big projected light displays lit up the whole harbour – so pretty! There was a big, colourful display projected onto the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art); the installation was cleverly titled “Mechanised Colour Assemblage”. “Paint the town” is an installation that lit up buildings around the harbour, and allowed people to choose what the next colours would be. We didn’t visit the control station but I really enjoyed the view!
Next we walked up toward the Opera House, stopping to look at a few of the installations around the Vivid Light Walk as we worked our way around the harbour to the Rocks. Installations we stopped at included: heart of the city, exposed, cloud, piano stairs, affinity, duck-duck-goose, entitle, ayla, opalessence, monster world, ordered chaos, threads and “a light year ahead”. I really enjoyed that last one – it played with mirrors, light and projection. I also really loved the centrepiece of the festival – “lighting the sails”. The sails of the Sydney Opera House get lit up by bright colourful designs projected across Circular Quay (I loved seeing beams of projected light spanning the quay). There is a long loop of designs. We didn’t stop and watch the whole thing, but I looked up a youtube video with the whole (slightly sped up) loop. I recognised most of the images from minutes 6-12 of this video.
I know these were small things, but there was something really important about it for me. It was a way to connect with the city I now live in – to deliberately engage with my new “here”. I enjoyed both outings and plan to go back to both events next year!