Welcome to the Year of the Monkey! Sydney has well and truly got into the spirit of Chinese New Year, and it’s a testament to the city’s rich Asian culture that people have embraced it so enthusiastically. Between now and February 21, there’s a great line-up of entertainment, dinners, cultural events and a wonderful display of lanterns at iconic locations around the city.
Who couldn’t help but raise a smile at the giant rabbits practising tai chi in Customs House Square (and the rabbit peeking out over the upstairs balcony)? And what about the huge dragon under the Harbour Bridge, and the Opera House’s Three Wise Monkeys, a giant inflatable lantern by Chinese-Australian artist Laurens Tan?
The sails of the Opera House were bathed in red from February 6 to 8 to mark the start of the Lunar New Year, and the celebrations will continue at the Opera House until February 21, with special tours in Mandarin. Guests on the tour are being given festive goodies including traditional lucky red envelopes.
Look out for the special menus across the Opera House precinct. Bennelong restaurant has a Lobster Bun on the menu, along with an exotic-sounding Monkey See Monkey Do cocktail, while Eat Drink is offering succulent braised pork belly with Hainan dressing.
The Star is celebrating the Lunar New Year with Asian-themed dining, cultural events, entertainment, a Penfolds pop-up bar at Sky Terrace, and the Lunar Markets in Pyrmont Bay Park (pictured above). The markets are on until February 14, with outdoor bars, pop-up stalls and illuminated displays like the cute one pictured at the top of this post.
Among the pop-up stalls are Luke Nguyen’s Fat Noodle, The Century, Korean BBQ Tacos, Chichi Fries, Poklol and Let’s Do Yum Cha. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere when we popped in the other night, taking time out to enjoy The Star’s Bamboo Garden and feasting on dumplings and duck buns. We loved the creamy sago and mango dessert from the Ayam stall.
The Shangri-La Hotel has also embraced the spirit of Chinese New Year, celebrating with a lion dance, as it has done each year for more than a decade. Two playful lions made their way through the hotel this week, bringing with them good luck and prosperity for the year ahead, accompanied by the loud banging of drums and Chinese instruments. The hotel also had a special seafood buffet and high tea bringing together the flavours of East and West.
All in all, it’s great seeing these celebrations grow into a colourful annual event highlighting Sydney’s rich tapestry of cultures.
The Lunar Markets are open weekdays from 5pm until late and weekends from 4pm until late. Entry is free. More information: www.lunarmarkets.com.au
More information about what’s on at The Star: www.star.com.au or 1800 700 700.
More information on the Sydney Opera House’s Lunar New Year celebrations: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
You might also be interested in our Postcard of the Week: Chinese New Year, Sydney.