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.

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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.

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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.ChineseNewYear06

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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29 Responses

  1. Lisa Wood says:

    oh we love Melbourne, but we haven’t been there when the Chinese New Year was on 🙂
    We got to experience Bundaberg New Year this year! Nothing like the one in Brisbane mind you 🙂
    Love the picture of your Chinese New Year in Melbourne.
    Lisa Wood recently posted…Motorhome Must Have ItemsMy Profile

  2. Aditi Shukla says:

    How lovely and colorful!!!! This is the first time I experienced the celebrations of Chinese New Year & can totally relate to it 🙂

  3. Kassie says:

    Beautiful and so unique! That’s awesome.
    Kassie recently posted…Wanderlust Wednesday Link Up #18My Profile

  4. Diana Elle says:

    It looks like a very cool parade, I love all your photos. How nice that you were able to attend!
    Thanks for linking up with Travel Tuesday!
    Diana Elle recently posted…Hamburg, Germany vs Brookings, South DakotaMy Profile

  5. Marcia says:

    Looks like you got really close. In NY, there are so many people, it doesn’t feel as intimate.

  6. It is so awesome that you got to experience some of the Chinese New Year traditions in Melbourne. Such lovely lanterns! I love watching the lion dancers performing.
    Constance – Foreign Sanctuary recently posted…If the Shoe Fits…! – ‘Cinderella High-Heel Church’ in Budai, TaiwanMy Profile

  7. Christine says:

    Love the Chinese New Year celebrations! They are so much fun! Great article and pictures !

  8. Vicki says:

    I am so annoyed with myself – I live in Melbourne and totally missed Chinese New Year this year! Your post gave me a virtual tour though – so thank you! Can’t believe I missed the pandas on the river and that amazing exhibit at Crown! #WeekendWanderlust
    Vicki recently posted…Haad Salad – The Best Kept Secret on Koh PhanganMy Profile

  9. Anne says:

    Love the colour, looks like fun

  10. It’s so colourful and fun and festive!:)
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted…My Scottish memories: Edinburgh-part IMy Profile

  11. Christine says:

    Fantastic photos. There’s Chinese New Year celebrations in London but it is always jam packed into the small Chinatown area which has put me off a little in recent years. The parade and lanterns at Melbourne look much more open and relaxed. #myweeklypostcard
    Christine recently posted…Exploring World War 2 London with childrenMy Profile

  12. Anda says:

    This seems like a nice celebration. We have a big Chinese community in Los Angeles, but I am not aware of any festivities in celebration of the Chinese New Year in this neighborhood. You really made me curious about it, Lyn. Are there that many Chinese in Melbourne?
    Anda recently posted…The Weekly Postcard: Balboa Island, Newport Beach, CaliforniaMy Profile

  13. Kathy Marris says:

    The colourful decorations of Chinese New Year are absolutely eye-catching. We were in Singapore during Chinese New Year and we saw decorations everywhere. It was spectacular. Melbourne really turned it on as well. Brilliants photos!

  14. Wow, you had a busy trip in Melbourne. I love the last photo of the Chinese ‘teddy’. Very cute!
    annette charlton recently posted…2016 French Film FestivalMy Profile

  15. As usual Melbourne has out shone itself. What an array of colourful displays to see about the city.
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted…Things to Do in Bali with Kids- InfographMy Profile

  16. Love the pandas! So adorable. Looks like you guys had fun!

  17. Nancie Lee says:

    There was a small Chinese New Year celebration in Baton Rouge, but nothing like this. The colors are fantastic!! It would be so much fun to photograph! The decorations at the Myer store are great. New Orleans has a Chinese Lights display going on right now at the Botanical gardens. I haven’t made it yet, but I think the displays look a lot like those. Great post!!

  18. Always so many wonderful colors! Is the Melbourne Military Tattoo the same thing that happens in Edinburgh each year also? What an awesome event to stumble upon! Thanks for linking up with us on Travel Tuesday!
    Christy Swagerty (whatupswags) recently posted…6 Miracles in MilanoMy Profile

  19. Fun60 says:

    How colourful and interesting. There is always a huge parade and celebration in London but I was away and missed it this year.

  20. I’m very surprised, that their is such a huge Chinese New Year celebration in Melbourne. #TravelTuesday
    Grey World Nomads recently posted…Alps In The CloudsMy Profile

  21. I’m very surprised, that their is such a huge Chinese New Year celebration in Melbourne.
    Grey World Nomads recently posted…Alps In The CloudsMy Profile

  22. Brooke says:

    Love all the lanterns! What a very fun looking holiday.

  23. Had to take a closer look and I’m glad I did!

  24. Photo Cache says:

    The Chinese NY celebration is so colorful and looks like a lot of fun.

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