Chinese New Year in Sydney: What’s on for the Year of the Monkey

Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) is celebrated on February 8th this year, bringing in the Year of the Monkey and a multitude of celebrations across each city around the world. Sadly there won’t be a CNY parade in Sydney this year as there usually is (those damn road closures!) but there is still plenty on around the city which you should be paying attention to. Here are just some of our favourite happenings this year, at various precincts around the city.

Monkey Tales at Chinese Garden of Friendship

Darling Harbours pristine Chinese Garden of Friendship will be hosting quite a few events throughout February, but Monkey Tales sticks out to us. Across two days, 20th and 21st Feb, there will be an opportunity to celebrate the Year of the Monkey with a theatrical adventure around the gardens, tasking the public to chase the “mischievous monkey” in a twilight search for the missing ball of friendship. We hear some dragons, lions, and wizards will be involved in this interactive and imaginative performance written and presented by the award-winning Monkey Baa Theatre Company. It’s suitable for all ages.

Celebrate the Year of the Monkey with a magical theatrical adventure around the Chinese Garden of Friendship! Follow the mischievous monkey in a twilight search for the missing ball of friendship. What will happen when he encounters dragons, a lion and the fearsome wizard? This interactive performance is an imaginative journey of friendship, fun and forgiveness. Written and presented by the award-winning Monkey Baa Theatre Company.

There’s also a bunch of other things to do at the garden including performances, demonstrations, workshops, and tours, with entry by gold coin donation. More info can be found HERE

Luke Mangan’s Chinese New Year Menu at Glass Brasserie


This year the iconic Hilton Sydney will be celebrating Chinese New Year in various ways, including playful art in their lobby, and a special four-course menu which will be offered at Luke Mangan’s famous Glass Brasserie. Think Prawn Toast with smoked corn, Raw Kingfish sashimi with jelly fish, organic soy, and apple, Chicken & Bug cooked Shandong style with chilli and shallot dressing, a choice of Lobster in black pepper sauce, and juicy, rich Char-Grilled Wagyu with soy glaze, wasabi, and ginger. For dessert, there’s an excellent Black Sesame & Chocolate Roulade with mango and tapioca. This is all paired up with a range from favourites Penfolds

More information and bookings HERE

The Star

The Star has prepared a fairly massive program of events celebrating Asian cuisine and culture throughout February. Of course, there are the Sydney Morning Herald Lunar Markets returning this year in Pyrmont Bay Park, but there are also Lunar Feasts, a pop-up Penfolds bar, and more. The highlight is definitely The Sydney Morning Herald Lunar Markets presented by The Star which lasts from 4th to 14th February. Set in Pyrmont Bay Park it’s a designed marketplace full of food from some of Sydney’s most popular Asian food vendors including Hoy Pinoy, Bao Stop and a special collaboration between Black Star Pastry and N2 Extreme Gelato (think Strawberry Watermelon Cake Smash with Fire Crackers, and Hipster Cookies & Cream). Don’t forget the pop-up Lunar Bamboo Garden either! More info at

There are various specials and Lunar Feasts throughout the acclaimed restaurants at The Star too, and a pop-up, Asian-themed Penfolds Wine Bar on the picturesque Sky Terrace.

More events and info HERE

Black Star Pastry x Lotus, the Galeries CNY Menu


BSP and Lotus have teamed up to offer a special dessert degustation menu at their grand The Galeries restaurant. The creations start with a mix of savoury dumplings and then veer towards interesting, complex desserts that balance different flavours and honour Wealth, Prosperity, and Longevity.

More information and a look at the full degustation can be found HERE

Kensington Street

One of Sydney’s newest and most exciting areas in Chippendale is being completely taken over by the Year of the Monkey, with the Chippendale Creative Precinct team bringing in a range of food down Spice Alley, art, live performances, and live dance surrounding Chinese culture. Think lion dancers and shadow puppeteers with calligraphy master, poets, martial artists and fortune tellers hidden throughout the area. You’ll also find an exhibition co-curated by Claudia Chan Shaw and Kensington Contemporary in the Old Rum Store at 2-10 Kensington Street, celebrating 20 Asian artists and the precision of 20:20 vision. There’s also plenty of places to duck away into off the strip, like Koi Dessert Bar and the newly opened Kensington Street Social, and of course that stunning pool bar on the rooftop of The Old Clare Hotel.

More information can be found HERE.

Westfield Sydney

The large and impressive shopping centre at Pitt St Mall are turning it up a notch for their CNY celebrations this year. There will be high tea tastings and dragon dances (including some near the top of Sydney Tower Eye), but of course, the essential event is a dumpling eating competition at New Shanghai on February 19th.

Sky-high Chinese Lion Dancers will be seen on the Observation Deck at Sydney Tower Eye on Saturday 6th and Sunday 14th February at 6pm, and Sunday 7th and Saturday 13th at 12pm – 268 meters above Sydney.

More information can be found HERE

Monkey Shoulder’s Pop Up Bar

World Square shopping centre
World Square shopping centre

Of course the world’s first triple-malt, Monkey Shoulder Whisky, needs to be involved this year, and they are staging a necessary custom built pop-up bar in Martin Place from now until February 14th, then World Square from February 15th-21st. Head along to try a Monkey’s Mojito and munch of some fortune cookies.

Mahjong Lessons in Surry Hills

Each Saturday the Mahjong Room in Surry Hills will be calling on their various Mahjong masters to host three-hour classes on the classic Chinese game, teaching you the tools and tricks you need while feeding you dim sum after dim sum.

Karaoke Bridge Climb

When else can you scale the triumphant Sydney Harbour Bridge only to belt out your favourite song once at the top? BridgeClimb will be bringing back their “The Karaoke Climb” this year for the first three weeks of February. Climbs are scheduled for 9:30am, 3pm, and 7:30pm each day and waiting at the very top of the bridge will be a selection of Chinese and K-Pop songs for you to get your karaoke on, while having it recorded on video of course.

More information can be found HERE

Din Tai Fung’s Monkey Buns


Din Tai Fung restaurants at World Square, Central Park, Westfield Chastwood, and Westfield Miranda are serving up these adorable Monkey Buns for CNY, filled with gooey chocolate and banana.

More information can be found HERE

Year of the Monkey across the AccorHotels network

For those visiting for CNY, or those just wanting a staycation, you should know that across the entire AccorHotels network – from ibis to Sofitel – there will be huge transformations in each hotel, celebrating the Year of the Monkey with tea stations, red lanterns, monkey designs, and floral displays. Many hotel teams will dress in traditional costume and give out red envelopes with gold coins and various properties will host events for guests such as dragon dances and kids’ activities.

Those staying at Novotel Sydney Central are able to pick a Chinese themed breakfast buffet, while Accor’s closest properties to Chinese Garden of Friendship – Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour and ibis Darling Harbour – will be hosting live cooking demonstrations to showcase traditional Chinese fare and dumplings at their Asian Wok Kitchen in The Ternary.

More information can be found HERE

Taste of Shanghai Pop-Ups

Taste of Shanghai will be hosting a few pop-ups around Sydney for CNY, first at the aforementioned Lunar Markets at Pyrmont Bay Park with pork mince noodles, pan-fried dumplings, and more. They’ll also be collaboration with David Jones for a pop-up dumpling bar on level 7 of the Elizabeth Street store, from 11th-18th February; dumpling and fashion? Yes please.

For more on What’s On across Sydney this Chinese New Year head to City of Sydney HERE


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.