Lunar New Year Celebrations

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Two Weeks of Asian Colour and Entertainment

2017 is the Year of the Rooster and while poultry and waterways are not a natural fit, this year’s Lunar New Year celebrations in Melbourne really focus on the banks of the Yarra.

The city section of the river, and its south bank, will be awash with colour to help Melbourne’s Chinese cultural community welcome their new year. But, organisers also want it to be a celebration to be enjoyed by a much wider audience, so feel very welcome to head-on down to Southbank and South Wharf between 27 January and 12 February.

The Festival’s lighting installations will be on show at Federation Square and all along the Yarra River, including Southgate, Eureka Skydeck plaza, Sandridge Bridge, Queensbridge Square, South Wharf Promenade and DFO.

Fed Square will feature the Giant Lantern, Southgate will display the Chinese Zodiac lanterns, Queensbridge Square will feature the Monkey Arches and a special installation soundscape highlighting Chinese Opera.

The bridges haven’t been forgotten either. The Southgate pedestrian bridge will be lit-up with pandas, while Sandridge Bridge will feature the Windmill Corridor - 30 three metre high rotating illuminated windmills along the balustrade of the bridge.

CNY Melbourne 2017 officially starts on Friday, 27 January with a major countdown in Queensbridge Square. Enjoy free activities, entertainment on the big stage and cooking demonstrations by Lee Chan. The Food Truck Park will be serving up Asian cuisine throughout the night and serving free dumplings at midnight! The New Year countdown will include a Chinese CCTV's annual national program broadcast.

The Federation of Chinese Association (FCA) kick-start their festivities in Fed Square on Saturday, 28 January, with a great variety of family friendly activities, including music, performances, and handicrafts between 10am and 5pm.

On the weekend of 4 and 5 February Dragon Boat Victoria will be hosting dragon boat demonstrations on the river.

Down at South Wharf, DFO is kicking up its heals to celebrate CNY 2017. Each day until 12 February there will be installations and displays in the retail centre itself and along Dukes Wharf restaurant strip.

Crown’s famous Hawkers Market is always a much-awaited event on the Melbourne calendar. This year Crown has extended its spectacular fireworks program to cover two weekends – more bang for your buck !

There are major Chinese concerts in the arts quarter, a Chinese fusion dinner on Eureka 89, free tai chi lessons, fortune cookie give-aways.

The program officially ends in Queensbridge Square on 11 February, with ‘The Cultural Kaleidoscope’ showcasing Chinese custom and culture. Marquees will feature a culture kaleidoscope program formed by two activities: a children’s program and cultural village.

And that’s just the Yarra River component of Melbourne’s Chinese New Year, so head to the official website to get the complete picture.

A word of warning; come prepared for crowds on the peak occasions. Last years event featured numbers as big as December 31st along the Southbank Promenade. Street parking is almost non-existent, commercial parking is also at a premium, but why would you drive-in, when a train to Flinders Street Station will place you right into the heart of the action.

Images: Kit Haselden photography