Australia is a fantastic place to celebrate the Lunar New Year, with events held around the country. Welcome the Year of the Rat 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
25 January – 9 February; Various locations across Sydney
Attracting more than one million people, this 24-year-old festival is one of the largest Lunar New Year celebrations outside China. There are more than 80 events, including performances, markets, installations, tours, exhibitions and entertainment – most of them free.
31 January – 9 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
1-2 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.
Chatswood Year of the Rat Festival
20 January-8 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.
13 January - 16 February; World Square
This is one for the kids – eight "rats" will show off their acrobatic skills as they tumble, twist and juggle in Sydney's World Square as part of the Sydney Lunar Festival.
Chinese New Year Banquet
20 January - 9 February; Spice Temple
Spice Temple's team of expert chefs have devised a nine-course banquet guaranteed to bring you luck in The Year of the Rat. For $99 per person (with matching drinks $55 per person), crimson-hued delicacies include cherry tomatoes swimming in rich, dark soy sauce; slices of vibrant tuna in a fragrant orange oil; and pippies served with pork mince – a surprisingly delicious union. The menu is also available at the restaurant's Melbourne outpost.
National Multicultural Festival
21-23 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
9 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 2 February from 1.30-3.30pm at the Cook Community Hub. Bookings are essential (firstname.lastname@example.org).
CNY Melbourne Festival
2-10 February; Various locations, Melbourne
The fifteen-day program includes an array of multicultural performances such as lion dances and traditional costume shows, food demonstrations, and family activities like calligraphy and handicraft workshops.
Chinese New Year with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
31 January; 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, conductor Yi Zhang marks The Year of The Rat with works from composers Julian Yu and Wanghua Chu.
Lunar New Year Festival
16-19 January; CherryHill Orchards, Yarra Valley
CherryHill is marking Chinese New Year for the first time with a three-day celebration among the trees, including traditional lion dancing, ceremonial drumming and several Asian-inspired food trucks to help you craft the perfect picnic.
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra presents The Bush Concert
1 February; Grainger Studio, Adelaide
Based on the booked of the same name, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra's concert is a family-friendly event,with Mandarin subtitles for the 3pm performance.
Chinatown Adelaide Lunar New Year Street Party
25 January – 8 February; 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.
Gold Coast Lunar New Year celebration
31 January – 1 February February; Gold Coast Chinatown, 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
25 January - 7 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
1 February, 4PM-9PM; 2 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 Rat.
Chinese New Year Fair
2 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.