Culture, colour and family for CNY

By Jessica Carrascalao Heard

Family and culture will be the focus of celebrations at the 2019 Chinese New Year Melbourne Festival to bring in the Year of the Pig in February.

The festival, running from February 2 to 17, is set to see performances by local and international Chinese artists, and cooking demonstrations by 2017 Masterchef Australia winner Diana Chen.

Chinese New Year United chair Thomas Ling said this year’s festival would be “our biggest celebration yet”.

“We want to make every year bigger … we try to be more unique and more creative and bring up more, other aspects of the Chinese New Year heritage,” he said.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp, who will open the festival at Queensbridge Square in Southbank, said it was one of Melbourne’s favourite events.

“The Chinese New Year Festival Melbourne 2019 unites families and friends to celebrate Chinese culture and traditions across the city,” she said.

The festival is set to showcase traditional Chinese culture with its trademark colour and verve.

Light shows, dances, costume parades, and live music will all feature throughout the festival. 

A lantern parade with the fire dragon and glowing lions will be on show at the closing ceremony.

With a bigger focus on culture this year, organisers have also reached out to community groups from other cultures to share in the celebrations.

“They may not come to present any performance, but they will come to experience what is happening during Chinese New Year in Melbourne,” Mr Ling said.

Mr Ling said it was important in Australia, especially in Victoria, as different ethnic groups form major communities here.

“Melbourne has long heralded itself as one of the most successful multicultural cities in the world,” he said.

The festival will also hold its first dragon boat regatta at Docklands, which organisers hope will become an international event by 2020.

Lion dances are scheduled for major events, including a lion dance on ice at the O’Brien Group Arena in Docklands.

Activities at the festival will be culture-focused, with the Cultural Kaleidoscope offering family-friendly workshops highlighting traditional Chinese culture as well as traditions from other Asian countries. 

The Cultural Kaleidoscope is also home to the “Streets of Chinese Cuisine” marquee, where visitors can attend cooking demonstrations and try Chinese New Year treats.

Mr Ling said activities at the festival were designed to “keep every member of the family having fun, full of happiness and filled with delicious traditional festive food”.

Celebrations will span Southbank, Melbourne CBD, Docklands and up north at the Melbourne Museum.

The festival will officially close on February 17, with a ceremony at Melbourne Museum.

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