A little extra luck has never hurt anyone. Luckily for you, Lunar New Year is the best time for gathering good fortune, and our Melbourne Chinese community celebrates in a big way. Welcome the Year of the Dog at these Chinese New Year Festival hot spots.
Chinatown is an essential stop, especially during this vibrant precinct’s official Chinese New Year Festival on 18 February. Don’t miss the amazing Dai Loong Dragon Parade: this remarkably long and lucky beast is carried and animated by 200+ people! Throughout the day there are also lion dances, bringing good fortune to local businesses amid a cacophony of firecrackers and drumming. Other highlights include al fresco yum cha, and roving performers, who will also appear all week before the big day.
A major hub for the Chinese New Year Melbourne Festival is Queensbridge Square, where the official countdown begins on 15 February. Come for the free dumplings, stay for the dragon dance, martial arts, Chinese music and doggy-themed light installations! Other highlights here include the 300-strong New Year’s Day flashmob, and the closing ceremony’s dance competition and lantern parade. On White Night, 17 February, there’s a feast of Chinese food and entertainment.
Southgate and Crown Riverwalk
Stroll along the river from Southgate to Crown at night to enjoy light installations of drum lanterns, flowers, pandas and peacocks. Linger over Asian delights at the many restaurants all along the Yarra’s southern promenade, where cultural performances will pop up in celebration.
Most exciting of all is the fireball towers’ metamorphosis into fire-breathing dragons. Watch street artists transform huge dragon-shaped panels wrapped around the towers, then be amazed as fireballs erupt from these colourful beasts
Celebrate by the water at Docklands, with children’s storytelling, dance workshops and cultural performances, including Chinese tea ceremonies. International students – there’s a party just for you on 18 February, with a dumpling buffet and photo ops with the god of prosperity. A nightly highlight is the Year of the Dog Light Show. The 15-storey Light House will dazzle for 10 minutes on the hour, in true Chinese New Year style.
Another hot spot for Chinese New Year’s Eve celebrations is Federation Square. There’ll be outdoor Asian cinema, DJs, riddles, and local and international performers throughout the night, culminating in the midnight countdown.
Queen Victoria Market
Over at Queen Victoria Market, the Lantern Festival offers a two-day feast of performances, cooking workshops and demonstrations, and family activities.
More dogs and dragons!
Don’t miss a rare chance to see Bendigo’s famous dragon, the longest in the world outside China! Presented by Melbourne Museum, the Sun Loong Dragon Parade will reveal this 100-metre-long wonder of traditional Chinese craftsmanship, including 90,000 hand-cut mirrors.
Not one but two doggy fashion parades are the highlight of the Immigration Museum’s Fortune, Food and Fur Babies! There’s also Chinese astrology fortune telling, delicious dim sum and the Canine Wellness Food Truck at this free afternoon of fun. See more pretty pooches at the Melbourne Chinese New Year Festival Dog Parade in the Treasury Gardens.