4 things to do in Melbourne to celebrate Lunar New Year
Melbourne is home to a number of communities that observe Lunar New Year, including Vietnamese, Korean, Mongolian and Chinese.
This year, Lunar New Year's Day will take place on February 1. Even though many events have been cancelled due to COVID-19, this is still a great time to catch up with family and friends, enjoy traditional dishes, and celebrate cultural diversity.
Here are four things that you can do to celebrate Lunar New Year in Melbourne.
1. Visit a Buddhist temple
Buddhist temples attract all kinds of people, not only for their spiritual connection but also for the spectacular sights and sounds of the Lunar New Year celebrations. It is typical for people to visit a temple during Lunar New Year to pray for blessings and good luck, or to pay respect to their ancestors.
The Heavenly Queen Temple in Footscray is one of the most magnificent temples in Melbourne’s west. Designed in traditional Chinese architecture with red brick walls and golden roof tops, it is an important landmark for the local community.
Heavenly Queen Temple20 Joseph Rd, Footscray VIC 3011, Australia
Quang Minh Temple is also a popular destination for the Vietnamese community in Braybrook and the surrounding areas. This year they will hold a celebration on 31 January 2022 with live performances, lion dances and fireworks.
Quang Minh Buddhist Temple18 Burke St, Braybrook VIC 3019, Australia
2. Attend a cultural festival
The next best thing to travelling overseas is to visit a festival celebrating the culture and food of another country. Lunar New Year festivals are no exception and are a great way to get a taste of Asia.
According to the organiser’s website, the 2022 Sunshine Lunar New Year Festival promises to be a day of family fun, live entertainment, street food, and lion dances, ending with a spectacular fireworks display at 8.30pm.
Chinatown MelbourneLittle Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
During this time of year, Chinatown comes alive with red lanterns and other street decorations, and when it comes to dumplings, Peking ducks or hot pots, you’ll never run out of options here.
There will also be a lion dance performance at Queen Victoria Market on 1 February 2022 to bring in the Year of the Tiger.
Queen Victoria MarketQueen St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Please note that many of this year’s Lunar New Year events are being cancelled due to COVID-19, so make sure to check the event’s official website before heading out.
3. Watch the Summer Nights Drone Show in Docklands
Fireworks are an important element of Lunar New Year celebrations. Traditionally, they are set off to scare away evil spirits and symbolise the good luck and fortune that the new year will bring.
However, drone displays are slowly replacing fireworks at a number of events as an eco-friendly alternative to light up the night sky
From 15 January to 5 February 2022, you can witness such a display during the Summer Nights Drone Show. The show will run over Victoria Harbour every night at 9.30pm and 10.30pm, and will feature 350 drones choreographed to music, light and colour.
According to Lord Mayor Sally Capp, this is “one of the first drone shows of this scale to ever take place in the Southern Hemisphere”.
The weather in Melbourne can be unpredictable, though, so make sure to check their website for any updates.
Harbour EsplanadeHarbour Esplanade, Docklands VIC 3008, Australia
4. Go out for yum cha
One of the highlights of Lunar New Year celebrations is dumplings. A staple of Chinese cuisine, dumplings are associated with the concept of prosperity. According to tradition, the more dumplings you eat, the more money you can make in the New Year.
Some well-known Chinese restaurants in Melbourne that offer yum cha include Secret Kitchen, Gold Leaf, Crystal Jade, Shark Fin Inn and Tim Ho Wan.
The more popular ones get booked out early, so it’s best to make a reservation to avoid disappointment.