Australia is a fantastic place to celebrate the Lunar New Year, with events held around the country. Welcome the Year of the Pig at a festival, exhibition or one of the many excellent restaurants. Here’s a round-up of what’s on.
New South Wales
Sydney Lunar New Year Festival
1-10 February; Various locations across Sydney
Attracting more than one million people, this 23-year-old festival is one of the largest Lunar New Year celebrations outside China. Across the 10 days, there are more than 80 events, including performances, markets, installations, tours, exhibitions and entertainment – most of them free.
1-10 February; The Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Dawes Point
This contemporary lighting installation depicts the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac. The larger-than-life lanterns line the foreshore from the Opera House, around Circular Quay, to Dawes Point. Follow the trail to see them all; enjoy nightly lion dancing, as well performances from local Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai and Indonesian community groups on the opening weekend.
Chinese New Year dragon boat races
9-10 February; Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour
Arrive early to secure a harbour-side spot to watch the impressive 12-metre-long dragon boats race. The races attract thousands of spectators, and more than 3000 participants. Taoist monks perform a blessing of the waters and eye-dotting ceremony before the event to awaken the dragons and ensure a safe weekend.
Chinese Garden of Friendship celebrations
2-17 February; Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour
The Chinese Garden of Friendship was built as a symbol of friendship between Sydney and Guangzhou to mark Australia’s bicentenary in 1988. During Lunar New Year, the garden plays host to performances, demonstrations, workshops and tours.
Chinese New Year Lantern Festival
15-17 February; Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour
This festival showcases cultural performances across five stage areas and also features traditional Chinese food stalls and light installations.
Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art: treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei
2 February-5 May; Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Rd, Sydney
With more than 80 artworks, including paintings, calligraphy, bronzes, ceramics, and jade carvings, this exhibition celebrates Chinese culture through the philosophical concept tian ren he yi – unity or harmony between heaven, nature and humanity. This is the first exhibition from the National Palace Museum, Taipei, to come to Australia.
Wine, Dine & Swine
9 February; Kensington Street, Chippendale
This inner-city precinct has events for revellers of all ages, including a petting zoo, treasure hunt and face painting for the kids and themed menus at eateries and bars including Olio, Handpicked Wines and Gin Lane for the grown-ups.
Chatswood Year of the Pig Festival
29 January-19 February; Chatswood Mall, Chatswood Interchange, Victoria Avenue, The Concourse and more
This three-week-long cultural celebration will include traditional markets with stallholders selling food, decorations, toys, flowers and clothes, food tours of the area, free screenings of Chinese and English films, a Chinese New Year art exhibition and a Lunar New Year twilight parade.
National Multicultural Festival
15-17 February; Civic Centre, Canberra
Six stages, 300 food and market stalls, more than 350 community groups, live music, dancing and more: this three-day cultural celebration attracts more than 200,000 people annually. The dedicated China Village has its own performance stage and a program packed with traditional and contemporary performances.
Chinese Lantern Festival
23 February; Canberra Beijing Garden, Lennox Gardens, Flynn Drive, Yarralumla, Canberra
Join locals from the nation’s capital for a lantern parade in the Canberra Beijing Garden. Bring your own lantern or buy one at this family-friendly event. The Australia China Friendship Society will hold its annual lantern-making workshop in advance of the event, on Sunday 10 February from 1-3PM at the Cook Community Hub. Bookings are essential (firstname.lastname@example.org).
CNY Melbourne Festival
2-17 February; Various locations, Melbourne
The fifteen-day program includes an array of multicultural performances such as lion dances and traditional costume shows, food demonstrations, including one by MasterChef 2017 champion Diana Chan, and family activities like calligraphy and handicraft workshops.
Millennium Dragon Parade
10 February; 12.30PM; Chinatown and the Chinese Museum, 22 Cohen Place, Melbourne
The Millennium Dragon, housed in the Chinese Museum, emerges for its annual Dragon Parade at 12.30PM on Chinese New Year Sunday. After touring the streets of Chinatown, the dragon returns to the Museum, which then opens to the public for free.
Sovereign Hill Chinese Festival
9-17 February; Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street, Ballarat
With the Chinese Australian Cultural Society Ballarat, the renowned outdoor museum of Sovereign Hill puts on a traditional Chinese New Year celebration over two weekends, with hands-on activities, tours, performances, workshops and more.
Chinese New Year with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
13 February; 7.30PM; Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Southbank
The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has held a special Chinese New Year concert annually since 2014. This year, composer and conductor Tan Dun returns for The Year of The Pig to perform with Hanggai, a “traditional-meets-rock band” from the steppes of Inner Mongolia via Beijing.
Bendigo Chinese New Year Celebrations
9 February; Dai Gum San Precinct, Bridge Street, Bendigo
The Bendigo Chinese Association has been a part of the Bendigo community since 1871. In the midst of the Lunar New Year, the Association hosts a day of celebration, with a program that includes a lion parade, Chinese food and multicultural performances.
Lunar New Year at Crown Melbourne
30 January-25 February; Crown Casino, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
Crown Melbourne offers a full program across the Chinese New Year period, including the famous Hawker’s Bazaar (8-10 February), a “Zodiac Spectacular” in the Atrium, and a firework display (9 February). The flame towers on the Riverwalk will be transformed into fire-breathing dragons.
Image credit: Claudio Raschella
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra presents Chinese New Year
10 February; 5PM; Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide,
Melding old and new, East and West, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Chinese New Year concert is a family-friendly event, led by Chinese-Australian conductor Dane Lam from China’s Xi’an Symphony Orchestra, and featuring Australian-Chinese cellist Li-Wei Qin.
Chinatown Adelaide Lunar New Year Street Party
9 February; 12PM-10PM; Adelaide Chinatown, Gouger & Moonta Streets, Adelaide
For one afternoon, the streets of Adelaide’s Chinatown fill with live performances, kids’ entertainment, food and drink stalls (which in true SA fashion includes wineries), firecrackers and a lion dance.
The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art
Until 28 April 2019; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Stanley Place, South Brisbane
This free contemporary art exhibition features significant art from across the Asia Pacific to Brisbane, with more than 80 artists. See installations, paintings, sculptures, photographs and video from emerging and senior artists, as well as a cinema program, academic symposium, tours and more.
Gold Coast Lunar New Year celebration
9 February; 4PM-9PM; Gold Coast Chinatown, Young and Davenport Streets, Southport, Gold Coast
The GC’s celebration of Lunar New Year attracts close to 18,000 people. This free event features a street food market, live music, cultural entertainment, fireworks and more.
Great Barrier Reef Chinese New Year Festival
4-18 February; Various venues, Cairns
Enjoy traditional and contemporary celebrations over 14 days at the Great Barrier Reef Chinese New Year Festival in Cairns. Events include street markets, a lantern festival and special banquets at local Chinese restaurants.
Chinese Lunar New Year In Chinatown
9 February, 4PM-9PM; 10 February, 12PM- 5PM; Chinatown Mall, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Chinatown Mall turns red and gold at this big celebration. Experience traditional Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese dances, cultural performances, firecrackers and hands-on workshops to celebrate the Year of the Pig.
Sunnybank Lunar New Year Celebrations
4-10 February; Sunnybank Plaza, Corner Mains Rd & McCullough St, Sunnybank
Sunnybank Plaza, in the heart of one of Brisbane's Asian communities, hosts a Lunar New Year celebration across seven days with activities including traditional lion dance performances, tai chi, children’s pig-mask workshops, food discovery tours, noodle-making demonstrations, feng shui consultations and more. The following weekend (Saturday 16 February, 4PM-9PM), the shopping centre hosts an annual Lunar New Year Rooftop Party, with lantern making, live music, tea ceremonies, family games and fireworks.
Lunar New Year at Crown Perth
5-19 February; Great Eastern Highway, Burswood
Crown Perth hosts a vast array of Lunar New Year festivities, including a range of banquet dining options, free live entertainment, a zodiac trail, kung-fu demonstrations and roving lion dance performances across the complex. In the Crown Metropol Lobby, the spectacular 7.5-metre tall crystal Wishing Tree will be on show.
Chinese New Year Fair
10 February; 12PM-9PM; James, Lake and Roe Streets, Northbridge
Perth’s Chinese New Year Fair is a free community event, organised by the Chung Wah Association. Activities include food stalls, a street parade, games and activities for children, cultural performances such as lion and dragon dances, traditional Chinese performing arts and a multicultural concert in the evening.
Chinese New Year on the Lawn
9 February; 5PM-8PM; Mandoon Estate, 10 Harris Road, Caversham, Swan Valley
Swan Valley winery Mandoon Estate will host a family-friendly celebration on the grassy banks of the Swan River, with dragon dances, storytelling, face painting, live music, and more.
Lunar New Year Festival
3 February; 10AM-4PM; Lawns of Parliament House, 1 Salamanca Pl, Hobart
This festival graces the lawns of Parliament House in Hobart, with a children’s zone, a food area and entertainment across two stages. Expect traditional lion and dragon dances, an on-land dragon boat race, a "Zodiac Avenue" displaying all the 12 celestial animals and the lighting of a three-metre firecracker.