The Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival is widely celebrated across the globe. Over 14 days in February, Melbourne and Victoria’s multicultural communities (Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, Filipino and Korean) embrace the opportunity to wish for luck and prosperity for all. Family and friends gather, welcome the new season, and celebrate food and ceremonies.
The sound of firecrackers and fireworks, drums and dragons will sweep through the streets of Melbourne from the 15 to 25 February when the third annual Chinese New Year Melbourne Festival returns to celebrate the Year of the Dog with 10 days of feasts and festivities. The New Year Countdown on 15 February at Queensbridge Square will feature traditional Chinese dance and cultural activities, music and complimentary Chinese dumplings. The stage performances will include Kung Fu, Dragon Dance, youth performances, as well as Chinese musical instruments. Full events listing: https://www.cnymelbourne.com.au/ 03 9696 6417.
To commemorate the Lunar New Year, Crown Entertainment Complex is partnering with a group of street artists to paint dragons on the Gas Brigade towers along Melbourne’s Southbank Riverwalk over the weekend of 9,10 and 11 February, with the final artwork officially launching on 12 February. The dragons will be installed until the 27 February and the famous Southbank fireballs display will ignite the skyline from 8pm every 30mins. 8 Whiteman St Southbank VIC 3006, (03) 9292 8888.
At Melbourne Central, two main activities are taking place. A Lucky Cat room holding 888 waving cats is open for photographs from 16-27 February. Also in the Shot Tower Square, a ping pong tournament featuring Australian tennis player Sam Groth, indie band Alpine and Olympic table tennis players will show off their skills, and members of the public can play and go in the running to win one of three tables with art by noted Sydney graffiti artist Phibs.
Visitors to Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo can take the opportunity to wish their zodiac animal sign Happy New Year. The wildlife will welcome visitors to their home which will be dressed with beautiful red lanterns for the occasion. Elliott Avenue Parkville, Vic. 3052, 1300 966 784.
Also taking inspiration from Chinese lanterns - with symbolise joy and good fortune - passengers booking a Global Ballooning flight over Melbourne or the Yarra Valley during the period will onboard a hot air balloon shaped like a Chinese lantern and will receive a special Hongbao which includes a special gift. 30 Dickmann St, Richmond, Victoria 3121, +61 3 9428 5703.
Visitors who prefer the security of four walls can enjoy the skyline from Eureka Skydeck instead. From 16 to 28 February, those born in the Year of the Dog will receive a 50% discount on admission (proof of age required). 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank VIC 3006, (03) 9693 8888.
With luck and prosperity said to be at its peak during the Lunar New Year, punters could be winners at Flemington’s Great Horse Race Day on Saturday 17 February. Picnic rugs on the Front Lawn, Asian-inspired entertainment, and world-class racing will make for a memorable day out. Some of the world’s fastest horses will come to Flemington for the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m), named after the legendary mare whose stellar career consisted of 25 undefeated races. 448 Epsom Rd, Flemington VIC 3031, 03 8378 0678
Those more musically inclined can join the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with maestro Lü Jia and a stellar cast of guest artists to celebrate the Year of the Dog in a colourful and joyous one-night-only event (24 February) at Hamer Hall showcasing Melbourne’s diverse culture. One of China’s most celebrated violinists, Lu Siqing, will perform with the MSO for the first time since 2014 as soloist in one of China’s most famous orchestral works, the lush and romantic Butterfly Lovers concerto. 100 St Kilda Rd, Southbank VIC 3006, 03 9929 9600
Walk Melbourne’s Dumpling Discovery Walk visits several dumpling houses throughout the city that all do something a bit different. Running over three hours in the city, the walk is designed to showcase a collection of the best dumplings in town at some of Melbourne's most authentic places. 5/4 Marriott St, St Kilda VIC, 3182, +61 (0) 411 182 911
Melbourne Private Tours is offering two specially designed Chinese New Year tours:Understanding the Real Melbourne, and Melbourne After Dark. Guests joining these excursions on Sunday 18 February will have the opportunity to witness the excitement and spectacle of Chinatown coming alive with the annual Dragon Dance. The fireworks spectacular at night-time is an additional treat for those on the Melbourne After Dark tour. Throughout 15-25 February, guests on these itineraries will be treated to a bonus indulgence of dumplings from Hutong Dumplings. Bookings essential. 1/240 Chapel St, Prahran VIC 3181, +61 3 9529 3212
Spice Temple is celebrating Chinese New Year 2018 with a special banquet menu created by Neil Perry and Executive Chef Andy Evans available from Friday 16 February to Sunday 4 March. The Chinese New Year banquet incorporates ingredients that promote the traditional themes of the season, including prosperity, happiness, wealth, longevity and rejuvenation. Crown Complex, Southbank, Melbourne, +61 3 8679 1888
To celebrate the Year of the Dog, The Langham, Melbourne is showcasing an authentic Chinese menu at Melba Restaurant on Thursday 15 February and Friday 16 February 2018. Chinese dishes will be prepared by the hotel’s brigade of tradtional Chinese chefs. Diners can feast on favourite Chinese dishes from steamed pork buns, har gow dumplings and five spice roasted chicken, Cantonese dried beef hor fun, har lok prawn and Chinese desserts including nian gao glutinous rice cake, Chinese mandarin cheesecake and Chinese pineapple tart. Bookings essential. 1 Southgate Ave, Southbank VIC 3006, 1800 641 107
To spread the prosperity, Park Hyatt Melbourne is offering a ‘Prosper at the Park’ package where guests can relax and unwind in style. Part of the package includes the Nin Hao program where guest are given a Mandarin compendium and map of the local area, Chinese tea service, traditional comfort food and Mandarin speaking guest service officers. Bookings essential. 1 Parliament Square, off Parliament Place, Melbourne, Victoria 3002, +61 (0)3 9224 1234
Grand Hyatt Melbourne is celebrating Lunar New Year from Thursday 15 until Sunday 18 February with a Chinese inspired buffet at Collins Kitchen. During this period, guests will be welcomed to the hotel with Fortune Cookies in small red Chinese Lucky gift bags. On the 16 February from 6pm until 8pm, a traditional Chinese calligrapher will be on site where guests can have their new year resolution written down in traditional Chinese writing. 123 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, +61 (03) 9653 4831
More specials in the city
Fraser Place Melbourne is placing red envelopes with gold coins into each of their inbound Chinese visitor room(s) and will receive complimentary mandarins. 19 Exploration Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, + 61 3 9669 6888
For the month of February, ibis Melbourne Hotel and Apartments’ restaurant, ibis Kitchen is offering the Chef's signature braised pork belly with plum sauce, served with a crisp apple salad for $24. 15 – 21 Therry Street Melbourne, (03) 9666 0033.
Sheraton Melbourne is hosting a Chinese inspired Seafood Buffet at Little Collins St Kitchen from 16 to 25 February. The festive menu which features traditional Chinese dishes such as Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai Dumplings), Roasted Peking Duck and Red Bean Soup with Coconut Milk, as well as fresh seasonal seafood including Coffin Bay Oysters, Blue Swimmer Crab and Local Black Mussels is available for dinner (Monday – Saturday) and lunch on Sundays only. Bookings essential. 27 Little Collins Street Melbourne VIC 3000 +61 3 9290 1056
In Ballarat, an authentic Chinese New Year gold rush celebration will on available for visitors to Sovereign Hill on Sunday 18 February and Sunday 25 February 2017. The Chinese Australian Cultural Society Ballarat Inc will provide hands on activities for children, calligraphy, traditional music, dance, Tai Chi lessons and lion dance performances. 39 Bradshaw Street, Ballarat, +61 (03) 5337 1199
Ballarat Wildlife Park will be hosting Chinese New Year celebrations on Saturday, 27 January 2018 from 11.00am. Activities on the day will include, a Chinese traditional cultural show, face painting, Chinese hand writing exhibition, pan flute music by folk musicians, lantern making, professional western massage, Tai Chi and the famous Chinese Lion dance. There will also be a magic show, Peking Opera performance, Sichuan Opera performance, Chinese Kong Fu exhibition by children and Zither music performance. Visitors will also get a chance to take photos with alpine dingoes, koalas and wombats. Cnr of York & Fussell Streets Ballarat East, 3350 Victoria, (03) 5333 5933
Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (MADE) will also be celebrating Chinese New Year through a new display of objects that explore Chinese diaspora on the Australian goldfields. Chinese in Australia kept many of their customs during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They blended their traditions with western ones, most notably with parades and pageants to raise money to build hospitals and benevolent asylums. The display forms part of the permanent exhibition, currently showing at MADE. 102 Stawell St South, Ballarat, Victoria, 3350, 1800 287 113
Or visitors can celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dog with the Bendigo Chinese Association at the Dai Gum San Precinct, Bridge Street, Bendigo on Saturday, 17 February 2018 and watch the helium dragon Fei Loong soar over the Chinese Precinct while enjoying food and refreshments from 6.00pm and an entertaining multi-cultural performance program from 7.00pm 1-11 Bridge St, Bendigo, 0490 525 832
Great Ocean Road
Parks Victoria rangers, Wenbo Chen and Eugena Han will be conducting guided walks in both English and Mandarin at one of Victoria’s most iconic locations, the Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell National Park, on the Great Ocean Road. Walks will focus on the geology, history and native plants and animals of the area, as well as information about how to help care for the precious coastal environments. The 15-minute guided walk will take place at the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard visitor sites and no bookings are required. Visitors can simply look for details on the information board at the Twelve Apostles kiosk in the car park. 26 Morris Street, Port Campbell, Victoria, 3269 13 1963.
Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges
Guests at looking to celebrate Lunar New Year in regional Victoria can stay with Chateau Yering this festive season. The special Lunar New Year packages include accommodation, breakfast/dinner, a Lunar New Year welcome gift, whole fruit bowl in the suite on arrival and a Lucky Chinese knot. Bookings essential, quote Lunar New Year package when booking. 42 Melba Highway, Yering Victoria 3770, 03 9237 3333