Yarra River lights up for this year’s Lantern Festival

By Jess Carrascalao Heard

Southbank will be a hub of culture, light and joy on the last weekend of February for this year’s Lantern Festival celebrations.

Lion dances, traditional food and cultural performances are all in store at the Red Stair Amphitheatre at Queensbridge Square.

Federation of Chinese Associations of Victoria president Simon Qian said there would also be thousands of lanterns lighting up the Yarra River.

“There are more than a thousand lanterns all around the Yarra River, showcasing colourful Melbourne and our multicultural state,” he said.

Festivities are set to kick off on Friday, February 26 with a VIP cocktail and river cruise event, and will continue over the weekend.

Saturday is the big day of the festival, with entertainment and traditional food stalls at the Red Stair Amphitheatre starting at 11am, with celebrations continuing until well into the night.

Saturday’s festivities will also have a multicultural focus, with performances scheduled from a diverse range of cultures, including from the Sorbian and Filipino communities, as well as traditional lion dances.

The Lantern Festival is a traditional part of the Lunar New Year celebrations, and is celebrated in many Asian countries, and by communities across the world.

It occurs on the 15th day of the new Lunar Year, and marks the first full moon on the calendar.

Mr Qian said the Chinese community would be especially excited to be celebrating Lunar New Year after a difficult year due to the pandemic.

“They are willing to get together face-to-face safely and enjoying their traditional culture … even supporting each other,” he said.

The Lantern Festival will finish on February 28 •

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