Sydney’s best Chinese New Year events to check out

The Chinese New Year has come around once again and this year Asian communities around the globe will welcome 2020 as the Year of the Rat. 

Falling on Saturday, January 25, Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) is one of the biggest events of the lunar calendar. Events and festivities won’t just last for the night but will continue well into the start of February. 

In Sydney, the celebrations are almost as big as those in Asia with the 2020 16-day festival program, running from 25 January – 9 February, boasting more than 90 events across arts, food, culture and sport.

If you’re unsure how to get involved, here are some of our top picks from Sydney’s Lunar Festival:

Sydney Lunar Lanes

Sydney Lunar Lanes, Chinese New Year
Start the celebrations with a street party in Chinatown. Image: City of Sydney

On 25 January, Sydney’s Haymarket streets and laneways in Chinatown will transform into a hive of colour, excitement and culture as festivities kick off with a giant street party.

There will be live entertainment, performers, face painting, golden Rat robots, kids’ crafts, carnival games and an abundance of food stalls. Cultural performances will include Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Taiwanese and Japanese communities.

When: Saturday 25 January 2020 from 5pm – 10pm
Where: Chinatown at Dixon Street, Haymarket 
Cost: Free

The Ratrobats at World Square

In celebration of the Year of the Rat, World Square has designed and created a troupe of eight larger-than-life ‘Rats’ that will be on display to bring in the Lunar New Year.

The Ratrobats is an interactive display encouraging World Square visitors to touch, feel, imitate and of course to snap a photo to share on social media. In addition to this, the renowned Jin Wu Koon will perform the cultural tradition of Plucking of the Greens at 1 pm on 24 January and the traditional Lion Dance on Poles at 1 pm on 25 January.

When: Monday 13 January to Sunday 16 February from 8am – 12am.
Where: World Square, 644 George Street, Sydney
Cost: Free

Lunar Lanterns at Circular Quay

Lunar Lanterns at Circular Quay, Chinese New Year
Discover all the illuminated Chinese zodiac animals around Sydney harbour. Image: City of Sydney

Make a night of strolling from the Sydney Opera House to The Rocks to discover all 12 lantern exhibitions of the Chinese zodiac animals dotted around the harbour.  

Each giant animal is designed by an Asian-Australian artist to magnificently illuminate at night, making it a great idea for the whole family.

When: Friday 31 January to Sunday 9 February.
Where: Circular Quay – see the map here.
Cost: Free

Dragon Boat Races

Chinese New Year, dragon boat racing
Sydney’s dragon boat racing is one of the biggest and most celebrated events on the program. Image: City of Sydney

Sydney’s Dragon Boat Races are the biggest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere and definitely a highlight of the Lunar New Year festival.

Taking place at Cockle Bay Wharf, more than 3,000 dragon boat racers are expected to take part while spectators are welcome to watch from the sidelines as the spectacular 12-metre dragon boats battle it out.

When: Saturday 1 February 2020 from 8.30am to 5pm until Sunday 2 February 2020 from 8.30 am – 3pm
Where: Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour
Cost: Free

The Rocks Lunar Markets

The Rocks Lunar markets, Chinese New Year, Sydney
The Rocks will be hosting a Lunar market with Asian street food and shopping stalls. Image: The Rocks

The cobblestoned lanes of The Rocks will host markets featuring Asian street food and arts and crafts. Keep an eye out for traditional red lanterns (for good luck) and lion dance performances at 1pm and 6pm.

When: Thursday 30 January to Sunday 9 February 2020.
Thursday to Saturday 10am – 9pm, Sunday: 10am – 5pm.
Where: George St, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia

Cost: Free

Sydney Lunar New Year Fair

Sydney's Lunar New Year Fair
Sydney’s Lunar New Year Fair is the perfect event to celebrate with family.

Enjoy a day with family and friends at the Sydney Lunar New Year Fair, a fun-filled event with plenty of food, performances, carnival rides, arts and market stalls. Located near Central Station, Lunar New Year Fair will be held on the day of ‘Lantern Festival’ to celebrate the reunions of family and loved ones and is a perfect closing of the festival. 

When: Saturday 8 February 2020 from 10am to 4.30pm
Where: Belmore Park, Eddy Avenue, Haymarket 
Cost: Free

Chinese New Year’s Gala Night

Chinese New Year Gala Night at Town Hall
Enjoy Chinese traditional song, dance and martial arts at the Chinese New Year’s Gala night. Image: City of Sydney

For the Chinese New Year’s Gala night at Town Hall, Australian and Chinese performers will come together to perform classical and traditional song and dance. There will even be a bit of acrobatics and martial arts involved as the show highlights significant traditions through to the modern cultures of today.

When: Tuesday 28 January 2020 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Where: Sydney Town Hall 483 George Street, Sydney
Cost: C Reserve: $38.00, B Reserve: $58.00, A Reserve: $78.00, VIP: $98.00

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