Celebrate Chinese New Year in Victoria

Living Well | Miranda Tay | Posted on 02 February 2019

Where to go to see in the Lunar New Year in 2019.

Every year, following the phases of the moon, Asian communities around the world gather together to ring in the Lunar New Year and the arrival of spring (in the northern hemisphere).

One of the most exuberant celebrations across Victoria, festivities traditionally run for 15 days, and are packed with dragon boat and lion dance spectacle, temple offerings, firecracker pops – and, best of all, weeks of feasting.

close up of red and gold doll at chinese new year celebrations

The 2019 Year of the Earth Pig starts on 5 February, and completes a 12-year zodiac cycle. In Chinese culture, the pig represents wealth, generosity, love of life and good fortune. Those born in the year of the pig (2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971 and so on) are said to be kind hearted and loyal, if prone to be gullible. 

To usher in an auspicious beginning for the new year, homes are cleaned for family reunions, red envelopes primed with lucky money, and new outfits of lucky red, gold and brights prepped. 

Every move you make during this time takes on special symbolic meaning, so take heed of customs and traditions.

Don’t sweep the floor or wash your hair in case you throw out good fortune. Don’t use sharp objects or you’ll cut family bonds. And do feast on nian guo (year cake) and mandarins for good luck while enjoying festivities across Victoria. 

Light the First Incense  

Get the new year off to a great start by offering the first incense and wishes of the year to goddess Guan Yin. 

  • 4 February, 11pm; 5 February, 2.30am. Melbourne Guan Yin Temple, 56 Bendix Drive, Clayton. Free, but need to register.  

Chinatown Dragon Parade

Celebrate the Year of the Pig with Chinatown’s RACV-sponsored Dragon Parade on 10 February. Drop into our marquee on Russell Street while you’re there. 

RACV members get free entry to the Chinese Museum from 10 to 17 February, and the museum will run a guided tour plus tea ceremony and tasting for members on 2, 3 and 9 February. 

Kids can use the Zheng He treasure map to scour the museum for answers and win a prize. For more details or to register for the tour, go to  racv.com.au/chinesenewyear

Hands-on Activities for Kids 

Ideal for fidgety kids who want to create their own Chinese paper pig or have their name written in Chinese calligraphy in this highlight of Sovereign Hill celebrations. 

  • 10 and 17 February, 11am to 4pm, Horse Bazaar at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat.

The Night of Huaxing 

Culture buffs will enjoy this vibrant gala evening, as more than 200 performers kick start the year with show-stopping song and dance. 

  • 16 February, 7pm, Bunjil Place Theatre, 2 Patrick Northeast Drive, Narre Warren. Ticketing applies.

Social Dragon Boat Regatta 

This must-scream event is a first for the Chinese New Year Melbourne Festival, and promises pounding drums, beating hearts and rollicking good fun. 

  • 17 February, 9am to 5pm, 55 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands. Free.

Preston Market and Preston Central 

All-day celebration of everything you’ve always wanted to know about Chinese culture, with lion dances, taichi demos, and pop-up food stalls including “OMG-cute!” Somsom Candy. 

  • 9 February, 9am to 3pm, Preston Market and Preston Central, High Street.

Spice Temple Banquet 

Enjoy a delicious nine-dish feast with ingredients tailored to promote prosperity, happiness, wealth, longevity and rejuvenation at Neil Perry’s modern Chinese restaurant.

  • Until 10 February, Spice Temple, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank. $99 pp, plus $55 matching wines. Bookings apply.

Point Cook Festival 

A dragon dance and spectacular fireworks finale will feature for the first time in this community showcase of music performances, food and activities, now in its third year.

  • 16 February, noon to 9.30pm, Stockland Point Cook Town Centre, Main Street, Point Cook.

Oriental Teahouse

Special bookings taken on 8 February for David Zhou’s charming yum cha eateries will treat patrons to live lion dances and red coin pockets.

  • 8 February, 11.30am onwards, Oriental Teahouse CBD, 378 Little Collins Street. South Yarra, 455 Chapel Street. 6pm and 8pm. 

Lantern Festival – Yuan Xiao Jie 

Round off the celebrations with a jam-packed program of cooking demonstrations, lion dancing and family fun.

  • 17 February, 9am to 4pm. Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne.

Family story sessions

Rock up with your kids to Geelong Regional Libraries to enjoy the ultimate cultural experience with stories, songs and craft. 

  • 4 February, 4pm, Corio Library, Cox Road, Norlane. Book here. 5 February, 4pm, Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, 51 Little Malop Street. 

Visit the Great Stupa

Tour the Great Stupa, bathe the baby Buddha, view holy relics, and place wishes for new beginnings on Bodhi trees.

  • Until 10 February, The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, 25 Sandhurst Town Road, Myers Flat, Bendigo. Free. Check opening hours.

Bendigo Library welcome

Get a vibrant and traditional warm welcome of performance and dance from the Central Victorian Lion Team and Fu Wa Team.

  • 5 February, 5.30pm, 251 to 259 Hargreaves Street, Bendigo. No bookings required.

Conservation Corner

Discover how Australia’s oldest processional lion made its way from China to Ballarat, and find out how the Conservation Corner is preserving it in this museum tour. 

  • 10 and 17 February, 2pm, Gold Museum, Bradshaw Street, Ballarat. Entry fees apply.