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How to celebrate Chinese New Year in Australia

Australia is planning parties across the nation to celebrate the Year of the Dog.


By Simon Webster
Published: 02 February, 2018

Get ready for dragons, firecrackers, fantastic food and spectacular song and dance, as Australians welcome the Year of the Dog.

The Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year, and celebrated by cultures including Vietnamese and Korean) begins on 16 February and will be marked in colourful, exuberant style with events ranging from a day at the Brisbane races to karaoke on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You’d be ‘barking’ mad to miss it! 

Party for 17 days in Sydney

Shaanxi International Performance Group, Sydney, New South Wales

Sydney devotes 17 days to its Chinese New Year Festival in 2018, from 16 February to 4 March. This is the biggest Lunar New Year celebration outside Asia: more than a million people are expected to join in the fun.

Sydney’s famous Chinatown district will be the party HQ, with lion dance performances and traditional Chinese crackers on all three weekends of the festival, as well as Friday night Chinese food markets, and restaurants offering plenty of fabulous feasts and new year menus.

Elsewhere across the city, an Australian-Korean co-production, Frameshift, will bring aerial theatre to Circular Quay; dragon boat races will cause a splash on Darling Harbour; animal lanterns up to 15 metres (50 feet) tall will line the harbour foreshore; live community performances (from contemporary dance to martial arts) will shake the historic streets of The Rocks; and there will be a surely unmissable opportunity to sing Chinese and K-pop songs on top of the Harbour Bridge with a Karaoke BridgeClimb.

More than 80 events will celebrate not just Sydney’s Chinese cultures, but Korean, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese, too.


Meet flash mobs and more in Melbourne

Traditional dancers, Chinese New Year, Melbourne, Victoria

A New Year’s Countdown on the evening of 15 February marks the start of 10 days of celebrations as Melbourne welcomes the Year of the Dog from 15-25 February.

Kung fu and dragon dance performances will be among the highlights at Queensbridge Square, which will also be the venue of the New Year’s Day Celebration the following night – you can expect traditional Chinese music and dance, martial arts, magic performances and a flash mob featuring 300 performers.

The square will be a cultural hub during the festival, hosting several events, including the Closing Ceremony, featuring a Chinese square dance competition and a lantern parade. There will also be plenty of new year colour and fun at central city areas Southgate, Docklands and the famous Queen Victoria Market – everything from tea ceremonies to dance workshops to children’s storytelling. Light installations will include two large dogs at Queensbridge Square and everything from flowers to peacocks along Melbourne’s iconic Yarra River.


Feel lucky in Brisbane

Lion dancers, Chinese New Year, Brisbane, Queensland

Fortitude Valley is Brisbane’s Chinese cultural heart, and the Valley’s Chinatown Mall will host lion dancers, fire shows, roving street performers and more in a multicultural celebration of the Lunar New Year over the weekend of 17-18 February.

Away from the Valley, Brisbane’s city centre is also getting involved in the 2018 Lunar New Year in a big way, with three days of free entertainment in Queen Street Mall, featuring lion and dragon dancers, bamboo pole performers, kung fu displays, Asian pop-up food stalls and a Chinese orchestra from 16-18 February.

And you can combine Chinese New Year with a day at the races on 17 February, as the famous Doomben Racecourse hosts the inaugural Lunar New Year Raceday. Hopefully it’s an auspicious day for betting.   


Party on in Perth

Chinatown, Perth, Western Australia

A street parade, lion and dragon dances, games, rides and music will draw tens of thousands of people to Perth’s Chinatown, in the neighbourhood of Northbridge, for a Chinese New Year Fair on Sunday, 18 February.  

Elsewhere, Crown Perth, the city’s hotel and casino resort complex, is hosting a series of lion dance performances as part of its Lunar New Year offerings, while for some seaside Chinese New Year fun, you can head to Sorrento Quay Boardwalk on 25 February for more music, dance and cultural experiences. 

If you want to combine Chinese New Year with some fine West Australian wine (why not!), head to Chinese New Year on the Lawn at Mandoon Estate in the Swan Valley on 24 February, or the Leeuwin Estate at Margaret River, which is offering an eight-course, Chinese New Year-inspired degustation from 9–25 February.

Meanwhile, in other Australian cities…

You’ll find Chinese New Year celebrations across the nation.

In Hobart, a Lunar New Year Festival will grace the lawns of Parliament House on Sunday, 18 February.

In Adelaide’s Chinatown, events will include a Lunar New Year Street Party on Saturday 17 February.

In Darwin, the local Chinese community will welcome the new year with a temple ceremony on 16 February followed by a banquet on Saturday 17 February. A traditional Chinese lion dance will then tour the city, blessing more than 300 shops in a ritual than has been performed in Darwin for more than 60 years. 

And head to Canberra two weeks after new year for a traditional Chinese Lantern Festival and New Year Concert, Treasures of a Nation, on 3 March.

Feeling hungry? Australia is home to some excellent Chinese restaurants.