Celebrate Lunar New Year in New York City
A group rehearses their dragon dance in Manhattan, New York City. (Win Initiative/Getty)
Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in Chinese culture, falls on 10 February this year. And with New York City having the largest Chinese population in the country, there are a variety of celebratory events going on around town for both locals and visitors.
The Museum of Chinese in America kicks off its Lunar New Year Family Festival on 2 February with performances by local dancers, kid-centric Mandarin workshops, hands-on arts and crafts projects and a chance to learn more about Chinese holiday customs and rituals. On subsequent weekends through 23 February, the museum will also lead 11 am and 1 pm Preparing for the New Year walking tours around Chinatown. The one-and-a-half-hour excursions take a closer look at the neighbourhood’s holiday traditions, decorations and history. Reservations are required and tickets can be purchased online.
To drive away evil spirits, 500,000 rounds of eardrum-testing pyrotechnics will be set off at Sara Roosevelt Park in Chinatown at the New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival on 10 February, before lion and dragon dance troupes make the rounds to local businesses to ring in the Year of the Snake. The neighbourhood will then host the New Year Parade, a feast of colour and noise through its winding streets on 17 February. The three-hour multicultural affair – 150 groups will participate – starts at Mott and Hester Streets at 1 pm; arrive early for a prime position along the route.
In ethnically diverse Flushing, Queens, the Lunar New Year Dance Sampler on 10 February – just one event in a month-long lineup of festivities at Flushing Town Hall – will showcase dance traditions from China, Korea, Egypt and Colombia, among other countries. The vibrant community puts on its own Lunar New Year parade on 16 February starting at Union Street and 39th Avenue at 11 am. Subway construction is disrupting direct weekend service to Flushing, so be sure to check alternate travel options with the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
The New York Philharmonic will mark the occasion with a night of Chinese music and dance at Lincoln Center on 12 February. And over the next two weekends, kid-focused workshops designed around Korean (2 February), Chinese (9 February and 10 February) and Himalayan (9 February) New Year traditions will take place at the Korea Society, China Institute, Asia Society and Rubin Museum of Art, respectively. The programs are part of CelebrASIA NYC, a collaboration between New York cultural institutions, to introduce children to Asian themes and festivals. Persian (16 March), Cambodian (21 April) and Hindu New Year (2 November) workshops are also scheduled.
Amy Brader is the New York City Localite for BBC Travel