The turn of the year is always something special. In most places it’s loud, colorful and joyous — sometimes just because of the beautiful fireworks and being with friends… But for the Chinese and many other Asian countries, the lunar new year is an even bigger celebration and goes on for days or even weeks. Traditionally the lunar new year in Asian countries is a time for thanking the gods for their blessings, praying for the next year and remembering one’s ancestors. Loud firecrackers are used to clear out the old to make way for the fresh new year.
Whatever country you are in, if there’s a Chinatown in your city, you will notice cheerful Lunar New Year festivals in late January or early February.
The Year of the Rooster has been welcomed in this January and February all over the world with amazing parades and lively carnivals:
In the heart of Singapore lies Marina Bay and since the 1980’s the Chinese New Year festivities have been hosted here along the river. People gather to watch the glowing River Hongbao carnival and take a spin on the amusement park rides. Local delicacies and huge fireworks are all part of the program.
Besides the new year’s market, there is the largest parade of it’s kind on the Asian continent. The Chingay Parade hosts incredible performances by the Chinese, Indian and Malay communities to showcase the multicultural identity of the country.
In Australia the biggest new year celebrations are held in Sydney’s Chinatown, and this year they spanned from January 27 until February 12! Festivities are similar to Singapore with various markets and amusement park rides but also include impressive martial arts demonstrations and fun karaoke competitions.
Another highlight is Sydney’s massive twilight parade through the city where colorful floats, and gaily-dressed performers dance with lions and huge Chinese dragons.
Just as anticipated is the famous dragon-boat race in Darling Harbor at Cockle Bay Wharf. To the beat of a drum the spectacular 12 meter long vessels compete and finally the fastest team is crowned.
New York City, USA
In New York, the Lunar New Year kicks off with a literal bang with the firecracker ceremony and cultural festival. As in Sydney, there are lion and dragon dancers, craft vendors and stalls with traditional food located in Sara Roosevelt Park
In the famous city there is no dragon-boat race, instead New York holds a huge Chinese New Year concert, including artists from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
The most traditional and biggest parade, the Chinese New Year parade in Manhattan starts from Mott Street on February 5. Part of this enormous parade are giant lanterns, acrobats and vibrant and colorful floats.
San Francisco, USA
On the other side of North America, San Francisco holds probably the oldest and largest Chinese New Year parade outside of Asia. The main attraction is the 82 meter long Golden Dragon, which will be kept afloat by more than hundred people! Besides the stunning dragon there are also stilt walkers, marching bands, folk dancers and elaborate floats taking part.
The month-long celebration hosted by the city includes a flower market, community fair, basketball jamboree and a Miss Chinatown USA Pageant and takes place from January 21 to February 19, 2017.
In the Canadian city of Vancouver, there are two areas hosting the annual Lunar festivities, Chinatown and Richmond. The parade in Chinatown is definitely a must-see with intricate floats, dragon dances and martial arts troupes.
Temple fairs and the LunarFest are other events for the Chinese New Year. At the latter you can see interactive installations and attend tea appreciation sessions. Even the shopping centers in the area change their decoration to look like a mini-Chinatown and host cultural events and flower markets.
The festive mood will be set by the big parade on January 28 on the streets of Tsim Tsa Tsui. The night parade consists of illuminated floats, marching bands and acrobatic troupes. The main highlight though, may be the huge float featuring Micky Mouse and his friends.
Above the Victoria Harbor, on January 29, was a firework display. From this, spectators often go en route to the temples to give offerings, before going back to the markets full of traditional snacks and auspicious blooms.