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The Best Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year in NYC

January 31, 2018 - by Merrill Lee Girardeau
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While 2017 might have given way to 2018 a month ago, the Chinese celebrate New Year’s according to the lunar calendar. That means Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) occurs between late January and mid-February. Each year has its own zodiac animal, and this is the Year of the Dog! Fireworks, parades, dancing, and many other traditions abound throughout New York, home to more Chinese people than any other city outside the country of China. Enjoy family days at museums, music, fireworks, and some of the best parades ever in honor of Lunar New Year.

Chinese New Year Events for Families

chinese new year at the met

Photograph by Don Pollard

January 20 and 27, the Museum of the Chinese in America (MOCA) will host DIY Dumpling classes in anticipation of the new year. While you’re there, take a spin around the galleries and learn about Chinese-American history. In the weeks preceding the new year, the museum will also hold special walking tours of Chinatown and hold a Lunar New Year Night Market full of food and performances on February 1. February 17, MOCA will host a Lunar New Year Family Festival. Come see lion dances, music, a scavenger hunt, crafts, and more!

Come to a free event for kids at the China Institute on New Year’s Day (February 16). The day lasts from 10am to 1pm and features a Chinese acrobat, paper lantern workshop, and the “Story of Chinese New Year.”

The Asia Society will also welcome kids for its Family Day: Moon Over Manhattan celebration in honor of the new year. See a kung fu demonstration, lion dance, music, and more on February 17 from 1 to 5pm.

Also on February 17, bring your family to the Queens Botanical Garden’s New Year Celebration to learn about the lucky plants of the Year of the Dog. There will also be crafts and performances to honor the new year.

Also in Queens, on February 4th you can enjoy folk dances, a Lion Dance, and traditional arts and crafts at the Queens Museum. Museum educators will also be hosting drop-in lantern-making workshops and storytelling about the Chinese zodiac from 1:30-4:30pm.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will invite families to enjoy live performances and other engaging activities throughout the museum at their Lunar New Year Festival on February 24.

lunar new year brookfield place

If you’re near Battery Park, pop by the free Lunar New Year event at Brookfield Place (above). With dancers, martial arts, and music, you’ll be delighted on February 17 at this event.

Chinese New Year Parades

chinese new year parade

Madison Street to Madison Avenue will parade lion dancers and a dragon down Madison Avenue on February 10. The day kicks off at 11 am and will also feature live performances, face painting, and a photo booth. Bring your furry friend to the event for a check-up from the Animal Medical Center, in honor of the Year of the Dog. The festivities are centered at the Harman Kardon store, 54th Street between Madison and Park Avenues.

On February 17, the Lunar New Year Parade in Flushing, Queens, will begin at 11am. Come early for coffee and donuts at the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, and watch the floats and other participants from Union Street and 37th Avenue.

The best-known (and most crowded) Lunar New Year Parade will wind through Manhattan’s Chinatown and Little Italy, beginning at 1pm. You’ll get to watch beautiful floats, big dragon puppets, and confetti everywhere at this February 25 celebration. If you only do one thing for the new year, come see this singular New York spectacle!

Chinese New Year Fireworks

New Year’s Day of the lunar calendar falls on February 16. Why not head to Sara D. Roosevelt Park in Chinatown for the Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival, where you can kick things off right with 600,000 fireworks? Unfortunately, there seem to be no plans in the works for fireworks over the Hudson River, so the Chinatown event might be your only chance!  

Other Chinese New Year Events

madame tussauds chinese new year

From February 12 to March 31, come to Madame Tussauds New York for Chinese New Year festivities and wax figures. Take a picture with a dragon, see lantern art, and experience the three new Chinese celebrities’ figures being unveiled in New York: singer/actress Carina Lau, actor Donnie Yen, and hurdler Liu Xiang.

Tuesday, February 20, relish a night of beautiful music at the Lunar New Year Concert and Gala at Lincoln Center. Pianist Serena Wang (only 13 years old!) will be accompanied by the Farmers’ Chorus of the Yunnan Province in performing Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.

An unexpected marriage of lunar new year and sport, come see the Celtics vs. the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, February 24. For those with special group tickets, the evening will ring in the Year of the Dog as you enjoy the game. You’ll get a Knicks t-shirt bearing Chinese characters, a stuffed dog, and enjoy live performances that will greet the new year. Also, a portion of your ticket price goes toward the Museum of the Chinese in America.

The Long Island City annext of the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, will host a Night at the Museum celebrating the Lunar New Year on Friday, February 9th. In collaboration with roving dance party Bubble_T, the night will include performances, DJ sets, one-night-only installations, and a range of food vendors as part of the Bubble_T Night Market, along with after-hours access to exhibitions, video projections of firework events by artist Cai Guo-Qiang in the VW Dome, and much more.

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