Chinese New Year is a special time for our family because we’re half Chinese. Even if you’re not of Asian descent it’s a great time in Melbourne for firecrackers, lion dances and lots of yummy food!

Here’s a list of CNY festivals in Melbourne in date order which are all free:

  • Victoria Street Lunar Festival – Sun Jan 19, 11am-10pm. While technically the Vietnamese celebrate Tet there’s a large enough Chinese-Vietnamese population for Victoria Street Richmond to hold a CNY celebration. It’s very popular and gets a bit crowded but the street is closed off for food stalls and performances.
  • Springvale Lunar New Year Festival – Sun Jan 26, 9am-9pm Buckingham Ave, Springvale. Springvale has a large Vietnamese/Chinese population and this CNY festival coincides with Australia Day, so two holidays in one! See martial arts displays, lion dances, folk dancing and of course lots of Asian food stalls.
  • Crown’s Riverwalk Hawker’s Bazaar – Thu 30 Jan – Sun 2 Feb 11am-11pm Outside Crown Complex, Southbank. Chinese street food and entertainment by the Yarra. Some Crown restaurants will also have special CNY menus.
  • Federation Square Chinese New Year Celebration – Fri 31 Jan, noon-5pm & Sat 1 Feb, noon-3pm. Other than Chinatown this will be the main celebration in central Melbourne with lion dancing, Tai Chi and drop-in exhibition Mah Jong games.
  • Prahran Market – Sun 1 Feb 163 Commercial Rd, South Yarra. The Market is offering a range of free cultural activities including traditional Chinese Cooking Demonstration, lion dance, Chinese music and a free gift for the first 1,000 customers to the Blanco Kitchen – Oriental Asian Sauce Gift Pack.
  • Box Hill Street Festival – Feb 1-2, 1pm-1am Market St & Main St, Box Hill. Box Hill is another Asian enclave in Melbourne and they’ll be celebrating CNY with cultural performances, game,  amusement rides and food.
  • FCA Melbourne Chinatown Chinese New Year Festival – Sun Feb 2, 10am Chinatown, Russell St, Melbourne. The big celebration in Melbourne, with the opening ceremony at 10am followed by the Dragon awakening ceremony and parade. There will be a dedicated Children’s Corner with activities and of course lots of food stalls.
  • East Meets West Lunar Festival – Sun Feb 2, 10am-10pm. Hopkins St, Footscray. This is the celebration we’ll be attending as it’s in our new hood! Food stalls, games and rides will fill the street.

Also try these Chinese restaurants for a special CNY meal:

– David’s 4 Cecil Street Prahran

– Tao Tao House 815 Glenferrie Rd Hawthorn

– Golden Dragon Palace 363 Manningham Rd Lower Templestowe

– Shark Fin House 131 Little Bourke St Melbourne

How will you be celebrating Chinese New Year in 2014?