Mark your calendars for February 10, the beginning of Chinese New Year, and the year of the snake. The longest and most important of all the Chinese traditional holidays, Chinese New year is celebrated with much pomp and reverie. On the eve before the New Year, families will gather together for the reunion dinner and eat food such as chicken, pork, duck, and sweet delicacies; the night ends with many families setting off firecrackers. While the New Year is celebrated in all regions of China and in countries that have a significant Chinese influence such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan, the customs and traditions concerning the celebration vary widely. Despite the differences in celebration, all people will buy food, clothing, presents, and decorations for the doors and windows, and all families will do a thorough cleansing of their homes; the cleansing is done to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good “incoming” luck. The New Year celebration continues for 15 days until the Chinese Lantern Festival, which signifies the official end the New Year celebrations.
Here in New York we are fortunate to have a rich and vibrant Chinese culture. To help your family celebrate the New Year, we’ve complied a list of activities taking place in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
Flushing Town Hall - Flushing
FTH celebrates the new year for a whole month! They have both free and ticketed events as well as exhibitions and workshops. Events include print making, lantern making, dance samplers, and performances.
137-35 Northern Boulevard (at the corner of Linden Place) Flushing, NY 11354
Lunar New Year Festival
The New York Chinese Cultural Center sponsors this Chinese New Year fete. Try your hand at holiday crafts like paper cutting, calligraphy and making dough figurines in the lobby. Afterward, head into the theater for a jam-packed cultural lineup, including the Peking Opera, the Chinese rock band Hsu-nami, and Chinese sword, ribbon and folk dance performances. Preregistration required.
Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Saturday, February 9 at 1pm
Lunar New Year Celebration – Corona
Celebrate the Year of the Snake by getting up close and personal with a boa constrictor and a black rat snake in the zoo’s discovery center. Other activities include listening to snake-themed stories and learning about animals of the Chinese zodiac. The first 100 kids to arrive each day will receive a traditional Lunar New Year red envelope with a little holiday gift, and everyone can warm up with hot chocolate or tea.
Queens Zoo, 53-51 111th Street in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Saturday, February 9-Sunday February 10 noon-4pm
Free with admission: $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12
Lunar New Year Lantern Making Workshop – Flushing
Families can create their own Chinese paper lanterns using a color scheme that reflects their wish for the Year of the Snake. Afterward, stay and explore the garden, which is beautiful even in winter.
Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street near Dahlia Avenue
Saturday, February 16 1-3pm
14th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival
The spectacle features elaborate floats, marching bands, lion and dragon dances galore, Asian musicians, magicians, acrobats and procession by local organizations. Over 5,000 people are expected to march in the parade, which will start at Mott Street and promenade through practically every street in of Chinatown, finally dispersing at Broome/Forsyth. The parade is expected to conclude at 3 pm, at which time an outdoor cultural festival will take place in Sara D. Roosevelt Park featuring more performances by musicians, dancers and martial artists.
Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural FestivalDate: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Where: from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in Roosevelt Park (between Grand & Hester Streets)
The firecracker detonation, with expected attendance by local politicians and community leaders, is intended to ward off evil spirits. A large stage will feature all-day cultural performances by traditional and contemporary Asian-American singers and dancers. Plus, a dozen lion, dragon and unicorn dance troupes will march through Chinatown’s main streets, including Mott Street, the Bowery, East Broadway, Bayard Street, Elizabeth Street and Pell Street.
The parade usually winds throughout Chinatown down Mott, along East Broadway, up Eldridge Street to Forsyth.
Time: Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 1 p.m.
Begins: Mott/Hester Streets
Express Your Inner Snake: Lunar New Year Festival Family Day – Chinatown
There’s a lot to see at MoCA and this annual family festival is the perfect time to check out this off the beaten path museum. Kids can ring in the Year of the Snake with Mandarin lessons, holiday arts and crafts, lion and red silk dance performances and workshops, and family-friendly gallery tours. Busy on February 2? The museum is also hosting a family dumpling making and eating workshop with Rickshaw Dumplings’ Kenny Lao on Saturday, February 9.
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street between Grand and Hester Streets
Saturday, February 2 11am-6pm
$10, free for children under 5
Lunar New Year Festival – Hudson Square
CMA’s Chinese New Year family celebration is always super-popular, especially with younger children. Kids can get creative by working on a variety of Chinese and holiday-themed art projects, watch Mongolian bowl and Chinese sword, ribbon and handkerchief dances, and cheer on the young Chinese Lion Dancers from P.S.124. There will also be a giant dragon parade throughout the museum.
Children’s Museum of the Arts, 103 Charlton Street between Hudson and Greenwich Streets
Saturday, February 2-Sunday, February 3 10am-5pm
Free with admission: $11
Moon Over Manhattan: Celebrate the Lunar New Year Family Day – Upper East Side
The afternoon includes a lion dance, kung fu demos, drop-in holiday crafts, and a Chinese children’s song workshop led by the Shanghai Restoration Project and jazz singer Zhang Le.
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets
Saturday, February 9 1-4pm
$12 for adults, $5 for children
Chinese New Year Celebration: The Year of the Snake – Upper East Side
Lion dance is FREE. Workshops are $30 each or $50 for two per adult-child pair
Families can enjoy a lion dance and kung fu demos outside the China Institute at no cost. It’s a great way to introduce Chinese New Year to younger kids who aren’t ready for the big parades. There are also three somewhat pricey workshops on dumpling making, paper cutting and calligraphy inside the institute.
China Institute, 125 East 65th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues
Sunday, February 10 11am-2:45pm
Brooklyn Public Libary
CBA Culture & Art Center, once again will light up the stage in celebration of Chinese New Year, the year of the Snake! An incredible celebration with music, magic, dance, and singing. This amazing show will touch the hearts of all children, and the inner-child within all of us. Families will be given seating priority. Seating is Limited. First come, First served.
Saturday Family Program: Chinese New Year – Saturday, February 9, 2013 1:00PM
Lunar New Year Festival – Park Slope
The New York Chinese Cultural Center‘s Brooklyn event is similar to the one it’s hosting at the Queens Theatre, with holiday crafts followed by live cultural performances.
Brooklyn Millennium High School, 237 Seventh Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets
Sunday, February 10 at 11am
Brooklyn Lunar New Year Parade – Sunset Park
We’ve never been to Brooklyn’s Chinese New Year celebration, but we’ve heard from friends and readers that it’s a great one to hit since it’s a bit under the radar. No wonder: Annual sponsor the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association has yet to post the info on its website, but we called and verified that the parade starts at noon, preceded by appearances from community luminaries and cultural performances for kids and adults at 10am. The procession ends at 61st Street and Eighth Avenue.
Sunday, January 17 at noon
Begins at Eighth Avenue and 50th Street
Books for kids on Chinese New Year:
Beinging in the New Year – Author: Grace Lin
Celebrating Chinese New Year: An Activity Book – Author: Hingman Chan
Lanterns and Firecrackers: A Chinese New Year Story – Author: Jonny Zucker; Illustrator: Jan Barger Cohen
My First Chinese New Year -Author: Karen Katz
Lucky New Year! – Author: Mary Man-Kong
Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! – Author: Demi Demi
Wishing all who celebrate a Happy New Year.