As the festive calender moves away from the Gregorian New Year, we find ourselves in January preparing to celebrate another major event in Sydney that brings together all of our Chinese community. The Lunar New Year marks two weeks of cultural celebration in and around Sydney city as the Chinese almanac year of the Horse makes way for the year of the Goat. With a stellar line up of over 80 events, Sydney is one of the top cities in the world and Australia to celebrate Lunar New Year. Best of all, most of the events are FREE and everyone is welcomed to join in the celebrations regardless of your race or culture.
You and your family can look forward to month-long program of lion and dragon dances, folk music, traditional art, workshops, exhibitions, feasting and firecrackers that pay homage to the important Chinese festival, community and cultural heritage. However you plan to enjoy this festive occasion, here are 12 top ways to get your Lunar New Year celebrations in Sydney started.
Get into the Lunar New Year festive mood with the drumming and cymbals of lion dances. FREE Lion dance performances will be taking place between 12pm and 4pm across Dixon, Sussex, Little Hay, Goulburn, George, Pitt, Campbell and Thomas streets and Ultimo Road over 3 weekends.
Pyrmont Bay Park will be filled with stalls offering Asian cuisine from 5pm to 10pm for 11 days during the Lunar New Year season. The inaugural Sydney Morning Herald Lunar Markets is presented by The Star and FREE to attend
Address: Piramma Road, Pyrmont NSW 2009
Hickson Road Reserve, Dawes Point - 13 Feb to 22 Feb
Kick off the Lunar New Year season with the City of Sydney at the prominent landmark of Dawes Point in Sydney Harbour. The Point also forms part of Sydney's historic Rocks precinct. You and your family can enjoy FREE drumming, lion dances and tasty treats from the food truck from 7pm to 10pm. Set against the spectacular backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Festival Launch with the Lord Mayor of Sydney will take place from 7.30pm to 8pm. No bookings are required.
Dawes Point will also come alive with a FREE exhibition of larger-than-life lanterns created by Chinese artist Xia Nan for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. They include 90 terracotta warriors standing 2.1 metre high each, 2 horses, women and children, all fashioned out of materials like fabric and wires used in making a traditional Chinese lantern. These glowing Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors are in Australia for the first time as part of the City of Sydney's Chinese New Year Festival. Don't miss this special exhibition with the lanterns lighting up at dusk till midnight from 13 to 22 February. Phone 02 9265 9333 for more information.
Address: Hickson Road Reserve, The Rocks NSW 2000
Chinese Garden of Friendship - 13 Feb to 1 Mar
Photo courtesy of Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority
Located in Darling Harbour and close to Chinatown, the Chinese Garden of Friendship offers residents and visitors an insight into Chinese heritage and culture. Modeled after the typical private gardens of the Ming Dynasty, the garden is an ideal place to enjoy 2 weeks of Lunar New Year events from 13 February to 1 March. You and your family can enjoy FREE performances, demonstrations, workshops and tours with garden entry. The Garden will offer FREE entry every hour from 9.30am till 4.30pm on 1 March. Phone (02) 9240 8888 or visit the website for more details.
Address: 1 Exhibition Place,Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000
While the Lunar New Year feasting is not as plentiful as in Hong Kong or Singapore, your favourite Chinese restaurants in Sydney are serving up some tasty menus that are more affordably priced and equally delicious. Some of the participating restaurants include Golden Century Seafood, Marigold Restaurant and East Ocean Restaurant. Visit the website for a detailed list of the restaurants and reservation information.
Haymarket Library - 18 Feb
Photo courtesy of City of Sydney
Get your own lucky phrases for the Lunar New Year season at Haymarket Library. The Australian Chinese Artists' Society is hosting a FREE calligraphy demonstration from 11am to 3pm. You can request your own phrase from the skilled artists and bring a couplet on red paper home. No bookings are required. Phone 9265 9333 for more details.
What better way to celebrate the Lunar New Year than to learn more about the ancient Chinese system of geomancy or 'Feng Shui' and rice paper art. Phone 9265 9333 for more information.
18 Feb - A member of the International Feng Shui Association and Director of Feng Shui Fen's Way, Fen Ingersole will be running 2 FREE 60 minute sessions that explain how Feng Shui works in homes at 10.30am and 12pm. You can grab your tickets here.
28 Feb - You can decorate your home for the Lunar New Year season with some rice paper art. Lillian Lai will be hosting 2 FREE 60 minute rice paper art workshops at 11am and 1pm on 28 February. You will learn some simple techniques that will enable you to create your own artwork and finished it with a handmade red seal. Tickets are available here.
Address: 31 Alfred Street Circular Quay NSW 2000
Darling Harbour - 19 to 22 Feb
Photo courtesy of Nan Hai Culture & Media (Australia) Pty Ltd
Head over to Tumbalong Park in Darling Harbour for 4 days of glowing hand-made lanterns. Organised by the Australia China Economics Trade and Culture Association and presented by Nan Hai Culture & Media, the FREE Chinese Lantern Carnival will also feature a line up of cultural performances, workshops, martial arts demonstrations and more. You and your family can also enjoy tasty Asian treats, handicrafts and Lunar New Year gifts from over 50 stalls from 10am to 10pm on 19, 20 and 21 February and from 10am to 5pm on 22 February.
The Hunan Orchestra of Chinese Music toured countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. For one night only, the acclaimed orchestra will celebrate the Lunar New Year with fans and audience in Sydney from 7.30pm to 11.30pm. Hosted by the China Cultural Centre in Sydney and Ausfeng Event Productions, this special concert at the Sydney City Recital Hall will integrate Chinese and Western music elements. Tickets are priced from $48 to $98 and available for purchase here. Phone 02 8256 2222 for more information.
It may not be the Chinggay Parade in Singapore but the signature Twilight Parade in Sydney draws large crowds of residents and visitors each year. The city's streets from the Sydney Town Hall to Chinatown will come alive with FREE projections and a procession of performances and colourful floats heading towards Darling Harbour at 8.15pm. VIP seating is available at $66. Visit the website to purchase the VIP tickets. In addition to the main parade, there will be entertainment from 7pm to 8pm, projections on the facade of buildings from 8pm to 1am and post-parade fireworks at Cockle Bay at 10pm. You and your family can also admire the floats up close at Darling Quarter from 10pm to 1am.
Learn more about the Chinese culture this Lunar New Year season at the Glebe Library. From 11am to 12.30pm, the library will be hosting a FREE Chinese tea ceremony accompanied by dance and Tai Chi demonstration in the garden. Phone 02 9265 9333 for more information. No bookings are required.
Address: 186 Glebe Point Road (cnr Wigram Road) Glebe 2037
Surry Hills Library - 28 Feb
Photo courtesy of City of Sydney
If you're still looking for some own lucky phrases for your Lunar New Year celebration, then head over to Surry Hills Library. The Australian Chinese Artists' Society is hosting a FREE calligraphy demonstration from 11am to 1pm. You can request your own phrase from the skilled artists and bring a couplet on red paper home. No bookings are required. Phone 9265 9333 for more details.