Chinese New Year falls on Sunday, Feb. 10, but you don’t need to cross the ocean for the party. The most widely celebrated Chinese festival is a time to welcome longevity, wealth and prosperity into your life. Spot a dragon, the bearer of good luck, or set off some firecrackers to chase off evil spirits in one of these cities – our picks for the best cities to ring in the year of the snake!
With the first and largest Chinatown in America, San Francisco’s celebration is said to be the largest and most extravagant outside of China. Festivities include the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant, plenty of lion dancing, a 10K run/5K walk, 2 street fairs, and of course, a parade. The parade will feature a 200-foot-long Golden Dragon manned by more than 100 puppeteers, plus countless floats, stilt walkers, acrobats, folk-dancers and more. Ending in style, 600,000 firecrackers will explode at the parade’s finale.
Lunar New Year at the San Francisco Zoo also features fun for all ages with acrobats, Chinese yo-yo tricks, lion dancing, and a Zodiac Scavenger Hunt with prizes. And, if you’re born the year of the snake, you get free admission!
Chinese New Year in the desert? San Francisco may just have a rival for the biggest celebration in the US, as Las Vegas is a city known for going all out when it comes to celebrating. Since last year, Vegas has wholeheartedly embraced the Chinese holiday. This year, resorts will host a variety of celebrations, such as “Year of the Snake at the Venetian”, featuring a 98-foot-long animated blue snake and a giant 38-foot cherry tree. In addition, Wynn Las Vegas will have a firecracker show, and Cirque du Soleil will perform at MGM Grand.
There will also be a parade with extravagant floats, a Lunar Lantern Festival, a 5K walk, a Miss Asian American Pacific Islander competition, a Macy’s Fashion Show, and food and performance festivals. As if that wasn’t over-the-top already, Vegas revelers can also catch 2 virtual light shows Viva Vision created in honor of the Year of the Snake, using more than 12 million LED modules on a canopy longer than 5 football fields!
NEW YORK CITY
With a Chinese-American population of nearly 500,000, New York City promises to ring in Chinese New Year with their own range of special parades, festivals, performances and workshops. Don’t miss the 14th-annual Lunar New Year Parade and Festival, with lion and dragon dances galore, musicians, magicians and more. For something more interactive, learn how to make dumplings or write calligraphy at the China Institute or head over to Museum of Chinese in America’s “Express Your Inner Snake” for some paper-lantern-making and artist demonstrations.
Also, catch performances all day at the Firecracker and Cultural Festival or head over to the New York Chinese Cultural Center to hear the Peking Opera. For something a bit more glitzy, the New York Philharmonic is hosting a gala with a concert directed by Long Yu, director of the China Philharmonic. With a pre-concert reception and dinner included, the $35 ticket is a real bargain!
LA has a long history of celebrating Chinese New Year, and this year marks the 114th anniversary of the city’s annual Golden Dragon Parade! On the eve of the New Year, thousands are expected to gather for a midnight temple ceremony to usher in good fortune for the New Year.
Also go on a “mini-quest” during the Great Chinatown Hunt, and search for clues while exploring the sights, smells, and sounds of the neighborhood.
Celebrating the 101st anniversary of its Chinatown’s founding, Chicago is offering plenty of events to ring in the year of the snake. Head to the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago to get a behind-the-scenes look at how lion dances work and don’t miss the 100-foot-long “Mystical Dragon” at the parade. Classical music fans should book their tickets for the renowned China National Symphony Orchestra, which will be performing Feb. 21 at Edman Memorial Chapel.
Craving some peking duck or dumplings? 16 restaurants will be offering a 15% off discount, thanks to the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. So don’t forget to order your Buddha’s Delight for good luck!