The beautiful Chang Lai Yuan Chinese Gardens at Nurragingy Reserve will become even more colourful this February as they are adorned in decorations to celebrate the Lunar New Year, traditionally a holiday in which people honour the household, ancestors and the heavenly gods.
The Year of the Dog will be rung in with a variety of live cultural entertainment over two stages from 5pm, along with roving performers and a traditional lion dance (it wouldn't be Lunar New Year if there wasn't one) that will snake its way through visitors, scaring away evil spirits and spreading good luck.
On the main stage, Yunion Taiko Percussion kick off the evening with their brand of high-spirited energy taking you on a blended journey of song and dance through the Japanese taiko drum, accompanied by percussion sounds.
Dancers from a number of cultures will each take to the stage to perform their traditional dances. There will be Chinese, Vietnamese and the Siam Thai Classic Dance Studio showing us their unique moves. It's interesting to compare the different styles. Later on you can catch the Dauntless Movement Crew with their combination of parkour, acrobatics and dance.
Man's best friend comes into play with a Paw Patrol Kids Show, based on the animated cult rescue dogs and their adventures. Taking to the stage, it is sure to be a favourite amongst the young ones.
Not only does the stage provide entertainment, it also provides a learning experience for those not familiar with cultural activities associated with the Lunar New Year. A Chinese New Year blessing ceremony is one such event taking place here and is a life-enhancing prayer experience where attendees partake in making peace with blessing activities for the attainment of a prosperous forthcoming year. In addition, there is the extinguishing of personal spiritual obstacles, disasters, difficulties and suffering. All are welcome to join in the blessing. I'm certainly curious to learn more on what this involves, whether it is the lighting of candles, applying paint to faces or listening to talks.
A number of demonstrations are on the agenda for the evening too. You can learn about the Japanese martial art Kendo that descended from swordsmanship, using bamboo swords and protective armour. An ice carving demonstration is something else to look forward to as well with International ice sculptor Kenji Ogawa showing off his talents to onlookers. I love ice sculpting and can't wait to see what he carves and, then there is dough sculpting and, another favourite of mine, fruit carving.
The market stage sees more entertainment that includes a Chinese happy variety performance, Thai dance and Goshin Ryu karate. Of course, with a market stage, there must be market stalls and here there are plenty with all sorts of cuisine delights and interesting products for purchase. You can also bring a picnic and sit back and relax on the lawns.
Furthermore, a free Kids Craft area will keep children busy. They can try their hand at lantern making, fan decorating, origami, calligraphy and dog crafts. There's also a couple of jumping castles, face painting and rides.
Fortune telling can be had as well and the God of Wealth will be onsite to spread good luck.
Be sure to take a stroll around this wonderful 63 hectare tranquil reserve before it gets dark and enjoy all of its features. There's a huge Chinese gateway, Light Mountain pavilion, gazebo, lake, a waterfall and a seven arch stone bridge as part of the Chinese Gardens and the International Gardens contain some interesting plants from Africa, New Zealand, Europe and The Americas, whilst a sensory garden pays respect to Fred Hollows. Weddings are popular as well for the ceremony, the photography and the reception in the Colebee Centre here.