It’s a special time comparable to Christmas on the Asian calendar, with more than a million Australians, mostly from the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities, coming together to celebrate their cultures and traditions.
The annual Lunar New Year celebration in Sydney usually attracts up to 1.5 million visitors, making it the largest event of its kind outside of Asia.
This year the City of Sydney has planned more than 80 events and attractions from February 12-21, including socially-distanced markets, lantern lighting, exhibitions and cultural performances.
Some local councils, including Parramatta and Fairfield, have cancelled their usual outdoor events, while others are pushing ahead with theirs. Georges River Council has greenlighted the Little Lunar night markets from 5:30pm to 9:00pm on February 19 at Hurstville Plaza, which will feature Asian food stalls and cultural performances.
The Indonesian Buddhist Society in New South Wales will also celebrate differently this year. There will be no Lunar New Year traditions like cleaning up sessions at the temple or gatherings for a hotpot lunch.
Lunar New Year celebrations in Melbourne will be more subdued this year.
The annual festivity in Melbourne’s Chinatown runs from February 11-14, and will feature a Lunar New Year’s Eve countdown, cultural performances and an outdoor cinema.
But there’ll be no Millennium Dragon parade through Chinatown, which is one of the world’s largest, due to fears of another coronavirus outbreak.
Lunar New Year has been celebrated by Melbourne’s Chinese community for more than 160 years, and it’s the first year that the iconic dragon parade has been cancelled since 1979.
Organisers said while they were disappointed that the pandemic would dampen this year’s celebrations, they did not want to be responsible for an outbreak.
Tasmanians won’t be able to enjoy the festivities as much as other Australians this Lunar New Year, after celebrations were cancelled altogether.
Event volunteers said they didn’t have the capacity and resources to manage large outdoor gatherings while adhering to all COVID-19 health measures.
“It’s very sad and very disappointing,” Brian Chung, from Chinese Community Association Tasmania, told the ABC.
Christmas Island is the only place in Australia that enjoys two public holidays for Lunar New Year. For the 1,800 local residents, this year would be business as usual, as the island so far has been untouched by the virus.
Embraced by all ethnic groups, the annual celebration will run for 15 days and feature three major events: Lunar New Year Eve Festival, Chap Goh Meh, and lion dances.
Chap Goh Meh, a Hokkien dialect name, is commonly known as lantern festival in South-East Asia.
Western Australia went into a five-day lockdown last week after a hotel security guard working at the Four Points by Sheraton Perth tested positive to coronavirus.
Now the Perth Chinese New Year Fair 2021, which was planned to be held on Sunday, February 14 from 12:00pm to 9:00pm in Northbridge, is up in the air.
Event organisers said they were still anxiously following updates on the health advice in Perth.
“At this stage we will have to wait … we assume [February 14] will be OK until we hear anything different,” Ting Chen, president of Chung Wah Association, told the ABC.
Brisbane’s BrisAsia Festival is on now until February 28.
There will be more than 30 diverse events across 20 suburbs, including the popular Lunar New Year lion dance in Chinatown Mall.
It will also feature Rare Voices, a live traditional music event at SunPAC, and Crescent Moon, a dance, theatre and music presentation at Seven Hills.
The City of Brisbane said all events would be in line with Queensland Health’s safety guidelines, with enhanced safety measures and cleaning in place across all venues, and QR codes to be used to assist with contact tracing.
“Brisbane residents have been missing the festival atmosphere and there’s no better way to ring in the Chinese New Year than with the much-loved BrisAsia festival,” Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said.
According to abc.net.au