It’s February and Melbourne’s Chinese New Year Festival is officially underway. The entire city is about to enter celebration mode, with this year dedicated to the Monkey - and there are SO MANY amazing events to choose from, Listers.
Venture from dumpling binges to traditional performances and then back to more dumplings. Can you tell we love dumplings? Here’s our wrap-up of Melbourne’s Chinese New Year Festival.
Eat Monkey Buns At Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung know their way around a dumpling, bao or bun. So to celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Monkey they’ve created the ‘Monkey Bun’, a chocolate and banana-filled bun that’s decorated monkey-style. At a bargain of just $4.80 each, they’ll be available from 1-29 February.
Lantern Lighting Near Urban Kitchen
Do you need to let go of 2015 and embrace a positive and fortune-filled 2016? Then visit the Lower Ground of Emporium Melbourne for traditional lantern lighting on 2 February. It doesn’t matter if you’re naughty or nice; the lanterns will bring light to all spectators for the upcoming year.
Pray To Gods Of Prosperity
This is the perfect lunchtime treat for city-goers. The Gods of Prosperity will be roaming around Emporium Melbourne during 11.30am to 3pm 2-4 February, spreading New Year charm and blessings of health for all the passersby.
New Year’s Eve Dinner At New Shanghai
It’s the most important dinner of the Chinese year, and we’re recommending a traditional dumpling feast. On 8 February head to Emporium Melbourne’s New Shanghai for a New Year’s Eve/Family Reunion dinner dedicated to the traditional dish of dumplings. We’re already drooling just thinking about those juicy, juicy dumplings.
Queen Victoria Market
Yuán Xiāo Jié Festival
Yuán Xiāo Jié is a Hawker-style Festival that allows Queen Vic Market visitors the chance to sample traditional Asian foods while enjoying performances and lantern making workshops. It runs on Saturday 20 February and is a night not to be missed!
Lantern Festival At The 'A Shed'
70 red lanterns will deck out Queen Victoria Market’s A Shed for all 19 nights of the Festival (2-20 February), as well as 14 illuminated columns featuring traditional Chinese Opera masks that will hang over the Market’s Queen Street parade. These beautiful installations need to be seen.
Lucky Monkey Market Tour
Enjoy a two-hour guided tasting tour of the Queen Vic Markets with heaps of nibbles and stories from local Chinese traders. Operating on 19-20 February from 10.30am – 12.30pm, it costs $25 per person and must be pre-booked. The tour will be in English and Mandarin.
Chinese Martial Arts & Lantern Painting
All of the Chinese New Year fun kicks off at Fed Square on the 6-7 February - and it’s a jam packed two days of Chinese celebration. Get creative with lantern painting, learn the lessons of Chinese Martial Arts, and taste over 20 varieties of Chinese dishes. Not to mention the live music, drumming and children’s performances. How many of the 20 dishes can you fit in your tummy? Our guess is 19 and a half.
The Yarra is going to be a Chinese New Year haven from 6-21 February. We’re talking Australia’s largest illuminated Dragon Head at Eureka Skydeck Plaza Area, Chinese Zodiac lanterns scattered at Southgate Melbourne, plus some extra cute illuminated Pandas along the pedestrian bridge. So grab your special date from Tinder, Happn and any other related dating sites for a quick pash with the Pandas.
Food Truck Park at Queensbridge Square
On 5-21 February, the Food Truck Park will hit Queensbridge Square in Southbank serving lunch and dinner from 11.30am to 9.30pm daily. There’ll be bites from White Guy Cooks Thai, Korean Fried Chicken, Flying Wok and heaps more. As well as delicious Asian cuisine, there’ll be magnificent light installations and cultural performances to keep guests entertained over the 17-day activation. For more information about the event click here.
The Age Lunar Markets
It’s a free, pop-up food festival that includes delicious Asian cuisine, boozy outdoor bars and a range of entertainment - and it has your name on it. Running from 4-14 February, the Lunar Markets will be your one-stop-shop for Wonderbao, Everybody Loves Ramen and Waffle on a Stick… om nom nom! Click here for more information on opening times and food stalls.
Trail of Illumination
Allow yourself to wander Docklands from 8-21 February in the trail of illumination. It is an eye-gasm for your retinas, which includes traditional red lanterns, a corridor of moons and stars, cute cuddly pandas and the giant Phoenix installation. It’s the perfect stroll for serial daters all over Melbourne.
It all starts on 7 February in Chinatown, on Chinese New Year Family Day. Apart from a traditional countdown to midnight, there will be an outdoor cinema and roaming performers flooding the city streets - and it won’t stop there. Running up until 21 February, there will be lion dance blessings, celebrations of Chinese Australian heritage and a special Millennium Dragon Parade on 14 February. No one does it quite like Chinatown this New Year. Hang on, Masterchef will also be making an appearance on 8 February – too many awesome events, so little time.
The Hotel Windsor
Chinese New Year’s Eve Banquet
The Hotel Windsor’s Chinese New Year’s Eve banquet is called ‘Eight Treasures’ and it sounds like a magical paradise food heaven. Chefs Joel Alderson and Adam Liston have prepared a unique selection of Asian influenced appetizers followed by eight courses of deliciousness. Held on 7 February at 6.30pm, it costs $238 per person and bookings are essential.
Asian-inspired Afternoon Tea
The iconic Afternoon Tea we all know and love is transforming this February into a celebration of Chinese New Year. Incorporating classic Asian ingredients such as kumquat, lychee and peach in pastries and dim sum inspired savouries, it is the first venture away from the Hotel Windsor’s classic afternoon tea menu… ever! Running from 8-22 February, you must check this one out. #Teatime can vary so click here for full details.
Zodiac Spectacular | Crown Towers
There’s going to be 60 suspended traditional lanterns, 12 giant zodiac animal lanterns, and some lucky kumquat trees for good measure. That’s a lotta lanterns, people! All jammed into the Atrium at Crown Towers, this one is bound to be a super beautiful exhibit that is sure to blow your eyes right out of their sockets. Not really, your eyes should stay intact. It runs until 21 February and entry is free.
Hawkers’ Bazaar | Crown Riverwalk
Hawkers’ Bazaar on the Crown Riverwalk is an annual Chinese New Year event that allows families, friends, couples and friendly monkeys to explore food and trinket stalls while watching some incredible cultural performances. It’s 100% free and runs from 5-7 February. As a special treat, on 6 February there will be a magical Fireworks Celebration at 9.45pm to welcome the New Year. We’re lovin’ it.
The bustling, vibrant and aromatic food hub that is Box Hill Central will once again play host to extravagant Chinese New Year celebrations. Not only will there be a giant, authentic Chinese Dragon – complete with festive lighting - but from 10am – 5pm from 6 February, the centre will also be filled festivities, activities and parades including community performances, and traditional lion dancers.
It’s time for Chinese New Year and we’re getting ready for spicy Sichuan at Shu Melbourne. As part of the two week long celebration, Shu is presenting a 6-course wine-matching banquet with spectacular dishes, such as: golden spare ribs with honey and soy and drool worthy grilled Australian banana prawns tossed with Asian herbs. At just $80 per person, this banquet (incl. three excellent Yarra Valley wines) is a New Year miracle and it runs from the 3rd – 13th of Feb. Hit this link to book your spicy spot now.
Are you feeling that dumpling love as well? Check out our list of Melbourne's Best Dumplings: Round 2 - it's a sweet morsel of dumpling goodness.
Image credit: Flickr