Chinese New Year in Melbourne
Whilst in Melbourne recently for the Military Tattoo we were lucky enough to have our visit coincide with the Chinese New Year celebrations. This was my first encounter with Chinese New Year festivities in Melbourne and the city came to life with Chinese lanterns, large illuminated Chinese Zodiac figures and a dragon parade.
Down at Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct, along the Yarra the cultural delight was along the pedestrian strip. There were 12 large, colourful figures, each depicting one of the animal symbols in the Chinese Zodiac. These were striking with Flinders Station and other Melbourne landmarks in the backdrop. At Queensbank bridge there was a 4 metre high Monkey Arch Corridor positioned as an extension of Sandridge Pedestrian Bridge. We even spotted a group of playful pandas hanging out under a rainbow.
From here we made our way across to Crown Casino where we marvelled at a dazzling Zodiac Spectacular in the Atrium. This featured 60 eye catching, suspended traditional lanterns, 12 giant zodiac animals and lucky kumquat trees. The lantern symbolises good fortune, letting go of the past and beginning a new year. This year is Year of the Monkey and the central feature of this beautiful, vibrant display was a brilliant Fire Monkey. On either side of the stairway reaching up to the Monkey, ninth sign of the Chinese Zodiac were the other animals, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Rooster, Dog and Pig. All the animals and lanterns were vividly coloured and internally lit. Seeing we were at Crown we decided on some Chinese treats for lunch in the Foodhall and had some Dumplings, rice, etc.
We wandered through Chinatown and also saw that Myer had decorated the store for Chinese New Year. As we were later walking along Swanston Street we stopped for a piece of sushi and a coffee. This bought us to the highlight and at impeccable timing as we approached Bourke Street.
The city was coming to life (and traffic to a standstill) with the Millennium Dragon parade through the streets of Melbourne, a tradition for Melbourne Dai Loong Association. Complete with stunning hues of red and gold, firecrackers and the awakening of the dragon everyone stopped to watch this magnificent parade. The parade is accompanied by the music of beating drums, cymbals and gongs, synchronised with the lion’s movements.
It is noisy, chaotic and extremely colourful. We were totally absorbed watching it and it is dramatic to watch. The basic lion dance movements are from Chinese martial arts and the people beneath the heavy costumes are incredibly fit and agile.
That night we had dinner at the famous Windsor Hotel where earlier in the week they had hosted a Chinese New Year’s Eve Banquet. The hotel was still decorated and the stairwell looked spectacular with its colourful lanterns.
I have only previously been to a couple of Chinese New Year celebrations and it is always a lot of excitement, colour and noise that is not to be missed. The celebrations in Melbourne were very much a vibrant and cultural experience, one that I recommend as a not to be missed to do list when in Melbourne during Chinese New Year.
If you want to read more about where to celebrate Chinese New Year check out this post.
Have you been to Chinese New Year celebrations? Do you have plans to attend in 2017? Please leave a comment below and let us know.
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