Thought the New Year celebrations were over? Not so fast. Various Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Mongolian communities are gearing up for the Year of the Snake this Sunday (February 10, 2013) with fantastic parades and festivals. TravelNerd found the best Lunar New Year celebrations this weekend around the U.S.
California has the largest Asian-American population in the U.S., with over 4.8 million Asian-Americans reported in the 2010 census. This also means that almost every major city in California has a Lunar New Year celebration worth traveling for.
February 16th – 17th
Los Angeles is hosting the 114th Annual Golden Dragon Parade in Chinatown, and, of course, LA does things big. The Golden Dragon Parade boasts over 20 floats, marching bands, government officials, lion dancing and thousands of cheering spectators. After the parade, stick around for the New Year Festival, and chow down on Chinese food, play some games and watch dazzling performances. Fun fact: in the 1970s, Bruce Lee was the Grand Marshal of the parade!San Diego Tet Festival
February 15th – 17th
Tet is the Vietnamese New Year and the most important holiday in Vietnam. Celebrations go on for at least 3 continuous days, and most Vietnamese people return to their home town to visit family. Celebrate Tet in San Diego at Mira Mesa Community Park with carnival rides, games, Vietnamese food and performances. Be sure to stay till the end for firecrackers!
San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade is the highlight of Chinatown, and is one of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia. With over 100 participants, look for unique floats, dancers, marching bands, Chinese acrobatics, martial arts groups and the famous Golden Dragon. The Golden Dragon is over 200 feet long, and requires over 100 men and women to carry its entire body. Set off some fireworks, and head to the community fair afterwards to eat some Chinese food, play games and watch performances.
Can’t make it to California? No worries. There’s plenty of celebrations on the West Coast.
February 8th – 10th
The Las Vegas Spring Festival: Chinese New Year in the Desert will host a series of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultural celebrations throughout the Fremont Street Experience (FSE), a five-block entertainment complex located in historic downtown Las Vegas.
This year’s festivities include a beauty pageant, a charity walk, a fashion show and a parade! Head to the International Vendor Village afterwards for some delicious local Vegas food.Seattle’s Lunar New Year Celebration
Head into Seattle Chinatown’s Hing Hay Park to find the Lunar New Year performances and festivities this coming Saturday. Attendees will find an exciting food walk (with a $2 tasting menu!), martial arts and drumming performances and dance teams of all sorts. Be sure to check out the other booths and learn how to write calligraphy, fold booths, make a lantern, and get a customized temporary tattoo. It’s fun for the whole family – your kids can even dress up to enter the children’s costume parade and contest.
Of course the other side of the country also gets to join in the fun.
Boston’s Chinese Lunar New Year
Boston’s Chinatown, the third largest Chinatown in the U.S.) is hosting the Chinese Lion Dance Parade. Look for vendor booths in the East West Bank for opportunities to learn how to write calligraphy, make dough sculptures and other craft projects. Be sure to watch the parade for lion dancing performed by local martial arts groups and performances by other dance and musical teams.
New York has a bustling Chinatown, so it’s no wonder they have a large Chinatown Lunar New Year parade as well. The parade estimates about 500,000 will attend in person, so don’t miss out. Look for antique cars, beauty queens, magicians, acrobats and musical performances in the parade. Then stay afterwards for a vendor’s fair to check out authentic Chinese goods and foods.Washington DC’s Chinese New Year Parade
Washington DC’s Chinatown is preparing for an exciting Chinese New Year celebration in the nation’s capital. The parade will start at 2 PM, and over 40,000 people are expected to attend, to say nothing over the 40 million watching the parade on television at home. We recommend you get there early if you want a good vantage point – we guarantee that you’ll be thrilled by the performances. Mayor Vincent Gray will speak at 3 PM, and a special firecrackers will follow at 4 PM.
Photo Credit: Featured photo courtesy of robertraines in San Francisco. Los Angeles photo courtesy of numberstumper. Seattle photo courtesy of jambel.Washington DC photo courtesy of Glyn Lowe Photoworks.