Year of the Rat: Where to Celebrate in Melbourne

Fireworks, feasts and fiery beasts take over Melbourne as part of the Lunar New Year Festival.

Lunar New Year celebrations are rooted in thousands of years of custom and tradition, and in Melbourne—a city with a rich Chinese and Asian heritage—the festivities tend to spill over the city in a rush of sight, sound, smell, colour and performance.

Melbourne Lunar New Year Festival launch.

From 25 January—the official date of Chinese New Year in 2020—the city streets from Queensbridge Square to Southgate, South Wharf to Docklands will become alive with light installations, street performances, outdoor food stalls, exquisite traditional clothing and acrobatic lion dances. The festivities will continue until 9 February.

Lunar New Year dance performance at Melbourne Museum.

One of the most impressive spectacles of the festival will take place in Chinatown on 2 February, when Chinatown will erupt in stunning hues of red and gold for the official Chinatown Chinese New Year Festival. The spectacular centrepiece of this event is the Melbourne Dai Loong Dragon Parade. Beginning in the heart of Chinatown at 11.30pm, the Dai Loong—Melbourne’s big dragon—will weave its way towards the CBD in a shimmying line of colour, music and dance. Outside of this main event, the Chinatown precinct will be overrun with lion dancing performances, cultural performances and street calligraphy demonstrations led by a veritable master of the craft.

Dragon Boat Regatta, Melbourne.

No Lunar New Year celebration would be complete without feasting. Take care to make several pitstops at the hawker stalls selling all kinds of traditional sweet and savoury delicacies.