Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is the first day of the new year in the Chinese calendar, marking the start of the new lunar cycle. In 2018, this falls on Friday, February 16. Before and after this date, there are a wide range of events held across the Capital to celebrate this cultural event and welcome in the Year of the Dog. This is a good opportunity for the Chinese community to get together to celebrate, as well as for other nationalities to learn more about their fascinating culture, try new cuisines, watch spectacular Lion Dances and enjoy banquets all across the city. Interested? Then check out the following 15 events around the city and be part of the cultural celebrations!
1/ Lanterne Rooms, located in Campbell, will be celebrating Chinese New Year between 15th - 22nd February, with a Tasting Menu for $82 per person (for 2-8 people), or a Banquet for $65 per person (with a minimum of 4 people per table). See here for menus and here for details.
2/ Natural Nine restaurant at Canberra Casino will be teaming up with Contentious Character winery for a Chinese New Year Banquet for $89 per person, between 12th - 18th February. This is available for both lunch and dinner, with wines perfectly matched to each dish. See here for details.
3/ Chairman and The Yip, one of Canberra's most iconic Asian restaurants, will also be hosting Chinese New Year Banquets for a minimum of four people at $70 per person, between 15th - 22nd February. See here for details.
4/ Wild Duck is an award-winning restaurant in Kingston, just a short drive from the city centre. It will be hosting a Fortune Banquet for $89 per person, between 16th February - 4th March. See here for details.
5/ XO restaurant in Narrabundah will have a Chinese New Year share menu that highlights local produce and combines classic flavours and culinary tradition. The cost is $88 per person, between 16th February - 3rd March. See here for details.
6/ The Belconnen Labor Club will be having The Prosperous Mountain Lion Dancers performing on the 14th, 16th and 17th of February, from 7:30pm. Take the family along and enjoy their Chinese New Year Festival Bistro Blackboard Specials while watching the dancers. See here for details.
7/ Star Buffet, located in the Burns Club in Kambah, will be celebrating Chinese New Year with a Lion Dance on Friday, 16th February starting at 6pm. The price for the Friday night buffet is $27.80 for adults and kids are $2 x their age. If you live within the ACT, you will need to join the club (for $5 a year) or be signed in by a member. For a full article on Star Buffet, see here. See here for details.
Image on left: Star Buffet Facebook. Image on right: Canberra Labor Club Facebook
9/ Gungahlin Lakes and the Ainslie Club will both have a Lion Dance and restaurant specials on Saturday, 17th February. The lion will finish with the "eating of the lettuce ceremony" at the entrance to each club! See here for details. 10/ The National Multicultural Festival will be held in the centre of Canberra, between 16th - 18th February. There will Chinese New Year celebrations and a Showcase on Stage 3. See here for details - look under A and C on the alphabetical listing program.
11/ Riverside Plaza in Queanbeyan will be having a Lion Dance between 6pm - 7pm on Thursday, 22nd February. Take the kids to watch this spectacular, colourful performance where performers mimic a lion's movements to bring good luck and fortune. See here for details.
12/ Westfield Shopping Centre in Woden will be hosting Deakin cooking school, Kids Pantry, as part of their Lunar New Year Celebrations. They will be holding Asian-inspired cooking classes for kids on Saturday, 24th February between 11am - 2pm. This is a free activity - no need to book.
13/ The Lantern Festival will be held at the Canberra Beijing Garden on Saturday, 3rd March, organised by the ACT Branch of the Australia China Friendship Society. It will begin at 6pm with a lantern parade along the shores of Lake Burley Griffin - with kids encouraged to make their own lanterns to win prizes. There will also be lanterns for sale, as well as performances of folk dancing, Lion Dance and martial arts. See here for details. If your kids would like to make their lanterns with other children, see here for details of a fun, community workshop in the week before.
14/ Chinese New Year Concert - Treasures of a Nation will be held at Llewellyn Hall on Saturday, 3rd March, starting at 7:30pm. The concert will be performed by the renowned Chinese Orchestra of China National Opera and Dance Drama Theatre, with ticket prices starting from $44. See here for details.
15/ Don't forget to visit your favourite local Chinese restaurant and see if they have a new menu, just for the Chinese New Year! See here for some suggestions.
As Canberra has many of the embassies of the world located around the city, we are fortunate to have a thriving multicultural community - which makes it a fascinating place to live (especially for foodies!). There is also a swelling Chinese community, with many students from all regions of China moving here to study at the national universities and staying on to work here afterwards. According to the 2016 census and the Canberra Times, the percentage of people speaking Mandarin at home grew 85% in the previous 5 years, making it one of the fastest-growing nationalities to move here. The Chinese New Year is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Chinese culture and discover something new to enjoy, about living in this multicultural city.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the Chinese culture for the rest of the year, then take a walk through the Chinese Beijing Garden on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Calm your breathing, listen to the sound of water lapping along the edge and simply stop and relax, in this scenic, waterside parkland.
Soak up the atmosphere of the Beijing Chinese Garden - a gift to Canberra from the Beijing Municipal Government