After a turbulent and chaotic horse year, Chinese around the world hope the sheep will bring calm and peace.
The Year of the Sheep starts next Thursday but a festival and market day tomorrow kicks off Chinese New Year celebrations in Auckland.
"The sheep is supposed to be a more gentle animal, and it means peace and tranquillity for everybody," said Kai Luey, Auckland Chinese Community Centre chairman and market day organiser. "We need that at this stage of the game because we've just got too many problems worldwide."
A "flying" god of fortune, firecrackers, dragon and lion dancing, two major festival events and a lantern festival are among the highlights of a three-week celebration in the city.
Mr Luey said people believed they would be enjoying a more peaceful and calmer time over the sheep year, and people who are born in the sheep year are considered to be patient, obedient and kind.
The animal sign in Chinese is "yang", which is a term used for sheep, ram or goat, and it is the eighth animal in the 12-year zodiac cycle.
Tomorrow morning, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Chinese Consul General Niu Qingbao will jointly preside over a "dotting the eyes" ceremony. An acrobatic troupe from China, performing for the first time in New Zealand, and a face-changing act are other highlights of the event.
On Sunday, Chinese cultural performances and market stalls will also be a feature at the Green Gardens Lunar Festival at the Trusts Arena in Henderson. The World TV group organised event will culminate with a fireworks display at 9.15pm.
SkyCity will be the focus of festivities from New Year's Eve, where there will be free Chinese cultural and acrobatic performances. On New Year's Day, Caishen - the Chinese God of Fortune - will descend from the top of the Sky Tower "bringing prosperity and good luck" to the city.
Chinese student Yuye Zhou, 25, is playing the part of Caishen for the first time.
The Auckland Lantern Festival returns for the 16th year at Albert Park from February 26 to March 1.
Year of the Sheep celebrations
New Year Festival and Market Day:
Cultural concert, dragon and lion dances, food and market stalls. ASB Showgrounds, tomorrow 9.30am to 4pm.
Green Gardens Lunar Festival: Cultural and musical performances, food and market stalls, fireworks. Trusts Arena, Sunday 3pm to 9.30pm.
SkyCity celebrations: Firecrackers, God of Fortune, free cultural and acrobatic performances, fireworks. SkyCity, starts 7pm Feb 18 to Mar 1.
Chinese and Korean New Year Fest: Korean and Chinese performances, Asian food stalls, lion dance: Northcote Town Centre, Feb 20 and 21.
Auckland Lantern Festival: Lantern displays, theatre productions, cultural performances, firecrackers. Albert Park, from Feb 26 to Mar 1.
Auckland City Libraries: Cultural performances and demonstrations, storytelling, movies, tai chi. For times and venues: www.aucklandlibraries.govt.nz