Dragons, acrobats, hip hop artists, kung fu fighters and a giant metal tiger showcased their skills during the Twilight Parade in Sydney, to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Tiger.

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The distinctive yellow dragons of the Tongliang dragon dance troupe, 10 times winners of China’s national championships, were a big hit with a crowd estimated by police at more than 100,000 last night.

That is, until the acrobats came along.

The tumblers from Chongqing city, in China’s west, thrilled the crowd with their athleticism.

The older acrobats balanced gracefully on each other’s shoulders and calmly swirled weighted ropes at incredible speed, but three 10-year-old boys played up shamelessly to the crowd as they back-somersaulted and performed triple and quadruple backflips.

The parade was, however, led off by a tiger – a 3.5 metre metal tiger made from recycled parts to demonstrate the City of Sydney’s commitment to sustainability.

The parade had a new director this year, Jerry Snell, a Mandarin speaking Canadian with a background in circus and contemporary Asian performing arts.

“The major challenge for us was to try to present a more modern vision of the parade and a more contemporary vision of China,” he told SBS.

Therefore the fusion of hip hop, rock music with modern styles of dance and acrobatics.

He said introducing aerial performance in the parade has also been challenging, and a relatively new concept.

Also, for the first time this year, the parade included representatives from the Vietnamese and Korean communities, who also celebrate the lunar new year.

The Vietnamese had dragon dancers and martial arts displays, the Koreans had taekwondo and a housewives’ drumming group. It wasn’t all rapid action.

A group of Chinese women in pink dresses, carrying green parasols, made a cool and elegant contrast to the drums and cymbals.

Nepalese-born Sydneysider Ruku, watching with her two-year-old daughter, couldn’t pick any part of the spectacle as more appealing than the rest. “Just the whole preparation of it was terrific,” she told AAP.

Chongqing municipality, Sydney’s Chinese partner for this year’s parade, sent a delegation of 500 people, led by Vice-Mayor Tan Qi Weh.

Mr Tan and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore officially launched the ceremony by dotting the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and forehead of life-size lion puppets, to bring them to life and scare away evil. Ordinary Australians got into the spirit of the parade as well.

Tanya, from Wollongong, and her three-year-old daughter Sophia, joined the parade “on the spur of the moment” at the urging of a friend who works for the city.

They marched in tiger suits with illuminated tails as part of the City of Sydney contingent.

“It was fun,” she told AAP. “It was nice to participate.” A hundred thousand smiling faces showed it was nice to watch as well.