Welcome to the Year of the Rat, the first of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac and therefore considered to be a year of new beginnings and renewals. According to the Chinese horoscope, the 2020 Lunar New Year starts on Saturday, January 25, which conveniently in Australia also happens to be a long weekend.
The Lunar New Year is the most important celebration of the year for Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese people, and with Australia’s huge mix of cultures, their colourful festivities have been brought to our shores.
In Sydney, more than 80 events are planned for the two-week Lunar Festival. The laneways of Haymarket will be transformed into a giant street party on January 25 when the festival kicks off. In a new event produced by the City of Sydney, Lunar Lanes will see Chinatown buzzing with live entertainment, roving performers, carnival games, food trucks and more.
For those who can’t make the January 25 festivities, there’ll be a second Lunar Spectacular at Belmore Park on February 8.
Electrifying LED lion and dragon dances will entertain the crowds viewing the Lunar Lanterns at Circular Quay throughout the two-week festival. The hero installation will be a spectacular tower of nine gold animatronic rats designed by artist Claudia Chan Shaw.
The Rocks Lunar Markets will be bursting with colour, with red lanterns lining the streets, lion dances and Asian street food, while 25 restaurants on the Darling Harbour waterfront will offer special share plates and banquet menus until February 9. From January 24 to 26, Luna Park will celebrate with fortune cookies, lion dances and the chance to make your wish on a wishing tree.
Where to stay: Adina Apartment Hotel Coogee Beach Sydney offers a side of coastal cool while Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour is your gateway to Sydney's harbourside attractions during the new year festivities.
Chinese New Year also has a long tradition in Melbourne, with festivals on various dates across the city. From Queensbridge Square to Southgate, South Wharf and Docklands to Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne’s city streets will be abuzz with light installations, street performances, outdoor food stalls and lion dances. The Dragon’s Awakening is an event you won’t want to miss in Chinatown.
The biggest street festival is in Victoria Street, Richmond, on January 19, with more than 60 performances, 100+ food choices, entertainment, cooking classes, a food, health and wellness hub, games and rides, and the ever-popular Pho Eating Competition.
The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Chinese New Year concert has become one of Australia’s major cultural highlights. Leading the orchestra will be eminent Chinese conductor Yi Zhang who conducted the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Where to stay: Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne on Flinders is a hop, skip and a jump from Federation Square whilst Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne, on the corner of Queen and Little Bourke Streets in the CBD, offers spacious accommodation in the heart of Melbourne.
In Brisbane, the BrisAsia Festival takes place throughout February in an annual celebration of Asian food, art and culture. Events include the colourful Lunar New Year celebration in Fortitude Valley’s Chinatown Mall and the high-energy BrisAsia Festival Summer Party on February 22 in Reddacliff Place.
The Lunar New Year Race Day at Brisbane’s Eagle Farm Racecourse on February 1 will see live racing along with lion dances, Chinese opera, Mongolian dancing and pop-up Asian food stalls.
Where to stay: The Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane puts you in the thick of the action in Brisbane's CBD and is just a short train ride away from Fortitude Valley.
Punters know that the Year of the Rat is prosperous and lucky which is something Australians need right now. Rats are clever, quick thinkers – and very fertile. In Chinese culture, they are a sign of wealth and surplus, and the Year of the Rat is a good year to begin a new job, get married, or make a fresh start.
Kung Hei Fat Choi … Happy New Year!