Culture

Here’s Everything You Should Know About Chinese New Year In Sydney

The most wonderful celebration is almost upon us: Chinese New Year is just a week away!

In a couple of days, people around Australia will begin to get together to celebrate new opportunities and fresh starts, and to prepare for the new year. The city of Sydney will be transformed for the Chinese New Year celebrations, and parties and exhibitions will begin popping up.

Of course, all that sudden activity can begin to get a bit overwhelming — it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to the multitude of ways to celebrate.

To that end, here’s a complete run-down of Chinese New Year in Sydney just for you: what it is, and where to go to enjoy the best of the festivities.

What’s the timeline of Chinese New Year?

The first day of Chinese New Year coincides with the new moon, and so can fall anytime between January 21 and February 20. In 2019, the first day of the Chinese New Year will fall on Tuesday February 5.

That said, the celebrations themselves begin much earlier than that, on January 28. That’s when preparations for the Chinese New Year kick off in full force, continuing all the way till New Years Eve, on Monday February 4.

Chinese New Year isn’t a one-day long affair, either; the Spring Festival, the core of the New Year celebrations, continues all the way until Tuesday February 19, and incorporates a three day-long lantern festival that kicks off on Saturday February 16.

It’s the Year of the Pig – but what does that mean?

Tuesday February 5 is the first day of the Year of the Pig, the 12th animal of the Chinese Zodiac.

Pigs have a deeply positive connotation in China. They are seen as a symbol of wealth, and those born in the Year of the Pig are known for being quiet, practical and extremely lucky.

Those born this year will be Earth sign pigs.

That means they will be typically meek and no-nonsense, but are expected to hit their most successful period later in life.

Where should I go to celebrate Chinese New Year in Sydney?

Chinese New Year is a period of great joy and activity, featuring a range of exciting things to do.

One of the major annual events is the Dragon Boat Race, held in Sydney every year. A key component of the Lunar Festival, the event involves dozens upon dozens of rowers competing in multiple races.

Live: Sydney dragon boat races heat up Spring Festival

Live: Sydney dragon boat races heat up Spring Festival This weekend, #Sydney’s Darling Harbor is boiling from the competition of the dragon boats. Join CGTN to get close to the heart-stopping action for the Chinese New Year. #SpringFestival2018 #DarlingHarbor #dragonboat

Posted by CGTN on Friday, 23 February 2018

The Dragon Boat Race goes down in Darling Harbour’s Cockle Bay Wharf from Saturday February 9 to the next day, Sunday February 10, so you have all weekend to drop in and watch the racers do their thing.

Lanterns are a key element of the Lunar Celebrations, making the Lunar Lantern display one of the key cornerstones of the festivities. Punters can walk along Darling Harbour in search of 12 giant lanterns, each one based upon one of the animals of the zodiac.

If that gets your appetite for lanterns whetted, then why not head over to the Sydney Opera House on Sunday February 3 or Friday February 8? That’s when you’ll be able to catch sight of a fantastic, free lunar lantern display organised by the City of Sydney’s international student leadership program.

The Art Gallery of NSW is also getting in on the Chinese New Year celebrations with an exhibition titled Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art. You’ll be able to check out a wide selection of Chinese art both ancient and modern, much of it focused on the idea of the divine.

Oh, and if you’re planning to head along, why not be there for the opening day, Saturday February 2, when costumed performers will conduct a traditional Lion dance?

What should I eat during Chinese New Year?

For those largely unfamiliar with delicious Chinese cuisine, Chinese New Year provides a perfect opportunity to get properly acquainted. There are a range of events for foodies happening all across Sydney, each of them a chance to delight the tastebuds.

If you’re looking to wet your whistle, you’d do well to head along to At Tea With U. This traditional Chinese tea shop, located in Central Park, Broadway, will be hosting traditional tea ceremonies every day throughout Chinese New Year, not to mention offering a Yum Cha buffet that’ll set you back $80 for two.

There’ll also be calligraphy lessons and other special, one-off activities, so book out an afternoon.

Meanwhile, those looking to snag some Chinese New Year bargains would do well to hit up The Sydney Fish Market‘s second annual Lunar Night Market.

The one night only event, hitting the beloved Fish Market in Pyrmont on Friday February 8, will feature a range of stalls selling everything from cooked crustaceans to burgers and dumplings. Head along and load yourself up on delicious fresh food.

Those willing to spend a little more should head over to Spice Temple for a nine course traditional meal. Located on Sydney’s Bligh Street, Spice Temple is an award-winning, acclaimed restaurant; for $99 dollars per head, you’ll be able to sample wares dreamt up by head chef Andy Evans.

Our 'Jiangxi' fish with pickled greens, salted chilli and sesame looking delicious!

Posted by Spice Temple on Sunday, 20 January 2019

If nine courses doesn’t sound like quite enough for you, then why not drop in at Sydney’s Tower Eye? That’s where you’ll be able to find a limited pop-up restaurant, running from Friday February 1 to Sunday February 10, where you can eat as many dumplings as you can possibly stuff into your gob in 45 minutes.

Or, alternatively, you can go for a deliciously upmarket feed at The Star Events centre, where, for $188 per head, you can enjoy a six-course meal and unlimited wine.

Elsewhere, at Sydney’s thriving Market City, Adam Liaw will be hosting a totally free cooking demonstration, where you’ll be able to watch the celebrated chef put his own spin on fried Mandarin fish.

Market City will be home to a range of Chinese New Year celebrations

Image: Market City

From there, it’s only a short walk to Spice Alley, where the Hong Kong Diner will be serving up Cantonese fried prawn dumplings and BBQ pork buns.

Of course, you’re not limited to one of these special events; why not pick a few, spread them out over a week or so, and spend your time sampling the best bites Sydney has to offer?

(Lead image: Destination NSW)