Turnout at the Chinese New Year Twilight parade in Sydney’s inner city has stalled over the past few years, with no growth in festival attendance since 2010.
The Twilight parade, which runs from Sydney Town Hall to the Chinese Gardens, was first incorporated into Chinese New Year festivities in 2009, where it attracted 70,000 attendees according to police estimates. The year after saw numbers jump to 100,000.
However, since then there has been no growth at all, despite the Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s claim in 2012 that the festivities continue to “gain stature, growing patronage and support, stimulating the economy and embossing Sydney’s global city status as an exciting and original city”.
A spokesperson from the City of Sydney stated that this number of attendees is “…a figure which is close to the maximum capacity along the parade route”.
“In 2010 the festival helped generate more than $7 million in tourism revenue – and we expect economic benefits this year to be on par with that,” the spokesperson said.
Despite attendance being close to the maximum capacity of the current parade route, the budget of the Twilight parade has increased from $1 million last year to $1.2 million this year, which accounts for more than half the festival’s entire budget. In contrast, the amount of the festival’s budget allocated to spending on events other than the parade has fallen from $1.2 million last year to $1.1 million this year.
The council’s 2013/2014 Operational Plan has 100,000 attendees at this year’s parade as a key performance indicator (KPI) for festival organisers. The council estimates that around 600,000 people in total will attend the festival, but there are no KPIs within the plan that refer to wider festival turnout.
The festival starts on January 24 and runs until February 9, and will celebrate the incoming Year of the Horse. The Twilight parade will be held on February 2. In addition to the parade, about 80 other events across the inner city will ring in the Chinese new year.