In a counterintuitive and extremely un-namesake-like manner, the Year of the Ox is upon us. Within the Chinese zodiac, the ox is the second of all of the animals. Known for its qualities as a background hard worker, of intelligence and reliability and for never requiring nor demanding praise, the ox is also associated with the Earthly Branch – or “chou” – the hours between 1:00 and 3:00 in the morning and with the “yin” energy principle. Lunar New Year is also referred to as Spring Festival. Specifically, it occurs on the new moon day of the first lunar month. It is a very auspicious time of the lunar cycle, a time when plans can be formulated and constructive intentions put into action. If celebrating this very special time of the calendar is something that exists in your near future, the City of Melbourne offers a dizzying array of festivities and activities that will surely suffice to kick off your Lunar New Year in glorious fashion.

Officially, the celebrations run for 15 days - from Tuesday, 9 February, through until Wednesday, 24 February. A highlight of Lunar New Year events is undoubtedly the Dragon’s Awakening Ceremony, an incredible sea of colour and cacophony – think firecrackers and drums - that begins in Chinatown, in Little Bourke Street, and winds its way through the CBD. The parade features the beautiful and intricately assembled Millennium Dragon, a heavyweight of cultural pride that is housed year-round in the Chinese Museum. The essence of the ceremony also referred to as the Dotting of the Eye, is a means through which people are protected from evil spirits and disease throughout the new year. In addition to this crowning jewel of a celebration, a slew of traditional and contemporary cultural activities will be on offer, including dancing, opera, singing, arts and crafts, calligraphy, martial arts, dining on an assortment of culinary delights and events designed specifically for children. Spread across Chinatown, the Chinese Museum, Queen Victoria Market and Crown Casino in the CBD and additional suburban locations, over 50 performances and 25 stalls will keep attendees thoroughly engaged throughout the 15-day commemoration. This is an opportunity for people from all cultural backgrounds to experience the sights, sounds and flavours of the Far East and to immerse themselves in the heritage of Melbourne’s Chinese community.

To seamlessly accompany the more traditional expressions of Lunar New Year celebrations, in conjunction with the Arts Centre, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has organised a very special gathering to take place at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl (date to be confirmed given current lockdown). In its eighth year, the MSO’s Lunar New Year concert is regarded as one of Melbourne’s premier cultural events. Led by Principal Conductor in Residence Benjamin Northey, the evening will feature some of the city’s finest Chinese-Australian musicians, including pianist Angela Li, pipa player Yang Ying and violin prodigy Christian Li, who will perform ‘Spring’ from Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ in its entirety. In addition to Vivaldi, the program will include pieces from Beethoven, Chopin and China’s leading 20th century and contemporary composers Xiaogang Ye, Zuqiuang Wu and Grammy-nominated Zhou Tian. Classical music enthusiasts, as well as beginners and novices, alike, will appreciate this unique blend of sound mastery from both Western and Eastern maestros. The MSO’s Lunar New Year Festival concert is the perfect chance to spend a relaxing and comfortable evening with family and/or friends and to renew your appreciation for Australia’s multicultural heartbeat. 

Here is wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Year of the Ox!        

** Note **

In light of the current COVID-19 restrictions and subsequent government directives, the concert has been postponed. The MSO is working with Arts Centre Melbourne, performers and artists to set a rescheduled date. The MSO thanks audiences for their support and understanding.

Chinese New Year with the MSO

Celebrate the Year of the Ox with the MSO and some of Melbourne's finest Chinese-Australian musical talent. New date to be advised, held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl (Image credit: the MSO)

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Celebrate Chinese New Year in Melbourne

This is an opportunity for people from all cultural backgrounds to experience the sights, sounds and flavours of the Far East and to immerse themselves in the heritage of Melbourne’s Chinese community.


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