Middle Kingdom in the city's heart

Chinese New Year marked by feast of events in Melbourne

Domestic travel
FIRST OFF: The Chinese astrological cycle begins with the Year of the Rat, an animal held in high regard for its cleverness, inquisitiveness and reproductive ability.

FIRST OFF: The Chinese astrological cycle begins with the Year of the Rat, an animal held in high regard for its cleverness, inquisitiveness and reproductive ability.

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Giant dragon parade among colourful celebrations kicking off the Year of the Rat in Melbourne.

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The Chinese New Year Melbourne Festival is well under way, with a dim sum of events to choose from before the celebrations wrap up on February 9.

On February 2, Chinatown will mark the Year of the Rat with the amazing Dai Loong Dragon Parade.

This remarkably long and lucky beast is carried and animated by more than 200 people, starting from the Chinese Museum about 11.45am. It then winds its way along Little Bourke, Exhibition, Lonsdale and Elizabeth streets, before returning to the museum by 1pm.

Throughout the day there will also be lion dances, bringing good fortune with firecrackers and drumming, pig-themed eating competitions, roving performers and the regular al fresco yum cha.

On February 8-9, celebrate the new year in style at Docklands, where children's activities, food stalls and vibrant cultural performances will envelop the district.

It is also a huge weekend for dragon boat racing.

Saturday is the day of the Community Dragon Boat Regatta, where organisations, companies, associations or simply groups of friends team up for races and drills throughout the day. In conjunction with other cultural performances, paddlers and spectators will enjoy food stalls, cultural performances throughout the day.

The serious stuff takes place the next day. The Sunday Dragon Boat Regatta is reserved for official dragon boat clubs,which come from all over Victoria as they vie for top honours.

Both events take place at Harbour Town Docklands from 8am-5pm

On the same weekend Melbourne Museum will host a family fun day, featuring face fainting, music, a traditional Chinese zodiac display and more. Sat & Sun 11am-4.30pm, 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton.

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