Gong Xi Fa Cai

If your 11/12 New Year’s Eve celebration was less than inspiring, alas, you’ve still got Chinese New Year for a second stab at the title.

Reign in the Year of the Dragon with a peruse around Belmore Park markets and watch a traditional dragon eye dotting ceremony. Or get a sensory overload at the spectacular Twilight Parade. With more choices than a Chinese Yum Cha banquet, there’s something for everyone with live performances, film screenings, karaoke competitions, food tours, art exhibitions and dragon boat races.

Here’s our guide to the best events to celebrate Chinese New Year 2012.

Gong Xi Fa Cai (aka Happy New Year)!

Chinese New Year Festival Launch
Kick off the Chinese New Year with a bang at the official Festival launch party. Watch a traditional dragon eye dotting ceremony and firecracker display. There’ll be live DJs pumping out pop-Asian tunes and performances from a Sichuan opera group and dancers.
Belmore Park, Friday 20 January; 6pm. Free.

Chinese New Year Markets
If food is your pastime be sure to taste your way through the pop-up markets. Expect food stalls and entertainment from lion dancers, Korean rock bands and karaoke competitors, plus film screenings, arts and crafts workshops, and cooking demonstrations.
Belmore Park, Friday 20 January; 4 – 11pm, Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 January; 11am – 10pm. Free.

Twilight Parade
An extravaganza of all things Chinese, feast the senses with a dragon led parade filled with almost 3,000 performers, live music, colourful floats, illuminated zodiac lanterns, dancing dragons, martial arts, circus acts, light projections and a fireworks display (phew!).
Sydney Town Hall to Darling Harbour, Sunday 29 January; 8pm. Free.

Dragon Boat Races
See 12-metre long Dragon Boats surge through Darling Harbour as competitors thrash their oars to the beat of large traditional drums.
Cockle Bay, Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 February; 8am – 5pm. Free.

Chinatown Food Tours
Join renowned journalist and food writer John Newton and Chinatown artist and tea merchant Raymond Leung on a tour of Chinatown and learn about the varying cultural precincts. Explore grocers, tea stores and gift shops.
Chinatown Gate on Dixon Street, Saturday 21 January, Wednesday 1 February, Sunday 5 February; 10am – 2.30pm. Adult $60, includes breakfast and lunch.

Talking Feng Shui
Hear everything you need to know to transform your house into Feng Shui friendly. You’ll learn how to improve the flow of positive energies and get rid of the negative ones.
Customs House Library, Circular Quay, Wednesday 1 February; 10.30am – 1pm. Free.
Chinse Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour, 30 January; 2 – 3pm. Adult $6 / Child $3.

Red Ribbon Dance Magic & Acrobatics
Performance duo Jerry and Peter will dazzle you with a Chinese red ribbon dance, magic and acrobatics. Suitable for the young and old.
Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour, Friday 20 January; 10 – 10.20am. Adult $6 / Child $3.

Festival Karaoke Competition
Watch Mando-Pop (Mandarian pop music), J-Pop (Japanese pop) and K-Pop (Korean pop) fans go mic-to-mic in the battle to be crowned the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival’s karaoke king or queen.
Belmore Park, Saturday 21 January, 8 – 9.30pm. Free.

Chinese Tea Appreciation Workshop & Yum Cha
Learn the delights and nuances of Chinese tea drinking, partake in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and try your hand at calligraphy – all while indulging in a matched Yum Cha degustation.
Zensation Tea House, 656 Bourke Street Surry Hills, every Saturday & Sunday from 14 January – 29 January, 11.30am & 4pm. Adult $66 

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