Insider guide to Chinese New Year

Chinese New YearIt’s easy to celebrate Chinese New Year in Melbourne… just follow the sound of firecrackers and drums on our city streets – and the smell of fresh dumplings.

The lunar year clicks over to the Year of the Dog on Friday, February 16, but the party continues in Melbourne until February 25 with dazzling light installations, street performances, outdoor food stalls and vibrant acrobatic lion dance workshops.

With so many events across the city, where should you start? Five of the Best asked Thomas Ling, chairman of Melbourne’s Chinese New Year festival. These are his five favourite bits of the fesitval.

  1. White Night

    1. White Night
    2. 6.30pm-11pm on February 17 across Melbourne’s CBD
    3. It’s not a celebration of Chinese New Year in Melbourne without lighting installations. We are very excited to be linking up with White Night this year to provide visitors with colourful displays and projections throughout the city, including two large dog installations for the Year of the Dog. Lighting installations will guide you down to Queensbridge Square, where the celebrations will continue as food from some of Melbourne’s best Chinese restaurants and top food trucks.
  2. Culture plus

    1. 10.30am-9.30pm on February 17-18 & 24-25 at Queensbridge Square, Southbank
    2. This is one for all the families coming out to celebrate. The Chinese Cultural Kaleidoscope activation runs over two wonderful weekends. Queensbridge Square will become a Chinese cultural hub, covering Chinese hand crafts, language, food stalls, cooking demonstrations, traditional dance and performances, Tai Chi, Chinese Square Dancing, Chinese waist drum and traditional tea ceremonies. Guests will then have the opportunity to have their photo taken with Caishen, the Chinese God of Wealth and Prosperity.
  3. New Year’s Day

    1. 6-10pm on February 16, Queensbridge Square, Southbank
    2. Chinese New Year’s Day is one of my favourite parts of the festival, as it combines everything from performances of many different styles, genres and forms. Performances include a flash mob of 300 performers, martial arts, traditional Chinese instruments, dragon and lion dancing, youth bands, children’s dance, magic performances and traditional singing.
  4. Closing ceremony

    1. February 25 at Queensbridge Square, Southbank
    2. To bring the whole celebration together, you can’t go past the Closing Ceremony at Queensbridge Square. There will be more than 200 Chinese Square dancers who compete in a 90-minute competition to showcase the immensely popular street dance practiced around China. The day will conclude with a Lantern Parade featuring more than 300 people, in a spectacle that marks the closure of the festival.
  5. Dumpling buffet

    1. 7-10pm on February 18 at 86 Newquay Promenade, Docklands
    2. The Federation of Chinese Associations will host the International Student Chinese New Year Party with cultural performances from various student groups, a cross-cultural riddle solving competition and last, but certainly not least, a Chinese dumpling buffet.

Insider guide to Chinese New Year