17 spots to celebrate Lunar New Year 2020 in NYC

January 15, 2020

The two-week-long celebration of Lunar New Year begins next week, considered one of New York City’s most festive events of the year. The welcoming of the Year of the Rat, the first zodiac animal and said to be a sign of wealth, kicks off on Saturday, Jan. 25 and is followed by 15 days of festivities, including lots of parades, performances, and firework displays. With several Chinatowns and many Asian communities found across the five boroughs, there are fun Lunar New Year activities for all New Yorkers, from Lower Manhattan’s 21st annual Chinatown parade to the first-ever Asian comedy festival.

Photo by Rhododendrites on Wikimedia

1. 21st Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival
February 9, 1 p.m.

Run by Better Chinatown USA, this annual Lunar New Year parade is one of the popular events in the city. On Sunday, February 9, the free celebration kicks off at 1 p.m. from Mott and Canal Streets to Chatham Square to East Broadway, towards the Manhattan Bridge and ending next to Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The parade, in its 21st year, features beautiful performances and delicious vendors, ringing in the Year of the Rat with a colorful bang.

2. Firecracker Festival
January 25, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Things will sparkle on the first day of the Lunar New Year, thanks to a firecracker festival held by Better Chinatown USA. Get to Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Saturday, January 25 by 11 a.m. to kick things off with crafts, live performances, and a firework display, thought to ward off evil spirits.

3. Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce Lunar New Year Parade
January 25, 11 a.m.

Queens’ original Chinatown celebrates the new year with a parade on Saturday, January 25. Hosted by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, the 2020 Lunar New Year Parade in Flushing begins around 11 a.m. at Union Street and 37th Avenue. Head to the neighborhood’s 300-year-old St. George’s Church before the parade for hot coffee, performances from local groups, and a raffle and prize giveaway. Register for the free event here.

Photo by Eryn Hatzithomas for the Queens Botanical Garden

4. Lunar New Year Celebration at Queens Botanical Garden
January 25, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

A Year of the Rat celebration takes over the Queens Botanical Garden on the first day of the new year. On January 25, the garden will offer families the chance to learn more about the holiday through crafts, performances, and other demonstrations. Plus, lucky plants, like jade plants and chrysanthemums, will be for sale all day, allowing you to start off the new year on the right foot.

5. New York Philharmonic’s special Year of the Rat concert
January 28, 7:30 p.m.

At Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic will put on its annual special Lunar New Year concert on Tuesday, January 28. Conducted by Long Yu of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the concert features Zhou Tian’s “Gift,” Texu Kim’s “Spin-Flop,” Gil Shaham in Chen Gang and He Zhanhao’s ” The Butterfly Lovers,” and Haochen Zhang in “Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.” Tickets, priced between $45 and $110, can be purchased here.

6. Museum of Chinese in America
Throughout January and February

Considered one of the most extensive museums dedicated to the Chinese American experience, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is a must-visit during the Lunar New Year celebration. The museum is hosting a number of events in January and February, including a “museum makeover,” a walking tour of historic Chinatown, storytime for kids, and author talks. Plus, don’t miss the museum’s most popular events, the Lunar New Year Family Festival and the Lunar New Year Night Market.

The family fest takes place during a morning and afternoon session on February 1, providing live entertainment, zodiac-themed crafts, celebratory snacks, and tales inspired by Chinese New Year traditions. On February 7, the night market takes over the museum with local vendors, live performances and art displays, as well as a traditional Lion Dance. Tickets ($99 or $88 for museum members) include all food, two drinks, and a one-year membership to the museum.

Photo courtesy of Snug Harbor

7. Snug Harbor Lunar New Year Celebration
January 25, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden’s 83-acre campus on Staten Island this Lunar New Year for treats and traditional crafts. The event includes educational storytelling, fun crafts (make lucky hong bao envelopes and lion heads), yummy food and drink (think dumplings and chrysanthemum tea), and participate in a parade to the Chinese Scholar’s Garden. For adults, the center will offer a class on ink wash painting and chun lian writing. Get tickets, which cost $10 for adults and $7 for children, here.

8. Brooklyn Children’s Museum
January 26, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Chinatown Young Lions is teaming up with the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to bring a colorful Lunar New Year celebration to Crown Heights on January 26. In addition to the Lion Dance parade throughout the museum, there will be lantern-and lion puppet-making crafts, as well as a storytime with Brooklyn-based author Michele Wong McSween, who will read her book Gordon and Li Li: Celebrate Chinese New Year. See the full line up of the museum’s events here.

9. Lewis Latimer House Museum
January 25, 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

You can mix art and science during the Lewis Latimer House Museum’s Lunar New Year event. The Flushing-based museum, once home to African American inventor Lewis Latimer, is hosting a “Tinker Festival” on January 25. Kids of all ages can make Year of the Rat masks and glowing paper lanterns as part of its Tinker Lab programming. The event is free, but be sure to RSVP.

Courtesy of Flushing Town Hall

10. Flushing’s Lunar New Year Chinese Temple Bazaar
February 1, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.

In honor of the centuries-old Chinese ritual of miaohui, Flushing Town Hall will host a Lunar New Year temple bazaar on February 1. Celebrate the Year of the Rat with hands-on activities, performances, and festive food, all for $5. A participatory dragon parade at Flushing Library kicks things off at 10 a.m.

11. The Met’s Year of the Rat event
February 1, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Lunar New Year Festival offers activities for all, with a host of performances, artist-led workshops, and interactive gallery activities. The February 1 event includes Sesame Street puppeteers, traditional dancing and drumming, zodiac meet-ups, lantern-making, bubble tea gatherings, hand-pulled noodle demonstrations, calligraphy classes, bilingual storytime, and much more. Appropriate for all ages, the festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m and is free with pay-what-you-wish admission.

China Institute Gala 2016; Photo © Patrick McMullan for China Institute

12. China Institute’s Chinese New Year Celebration
January 23 to February 29

As the oldest bicultural China-focused nonprofit in the country, the China Institute pulls out all the stops this holiday. From January 23 through February 29, the China Institute will hold a number of events focused on the many arts of the Chinese New Year, as well as festivities related to business, fashion, and culture. Throughout the month of programs, visitors can enjoy hands-on activities and artist workshops in traditional visual arts like nianhua (New Year pictures), spring couplets, papercutting, and shadow puppetry. The full line up of events can be found here.

13. Korean Lunar New Year Celebration at Staten Island Museum
January 25, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The Staten Island Museum is saying goodbye to the Year of the Pig and hello to the Year of the Rat with a festive Korean New Year celebration. Partnering with the Korean Community Development Center, the event includes arts and crafts, traditional Korean clothing, games, and customary Lunar New Year refreshments. The event is free with admission, which costs $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and $2 for children up to 12 years.

Photo courtesy of Brookfield Place

14. Brookfield Place
February 1, 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Presented by Arts Brookfield in partnership with the New York Chinese Cultural Center, Brookfield Place’s Lunar New Year event returns February 1. The colorful event includes a classic Lion Parade led by dancers, traditional music, a martial arts demonstration, and theatrical players. Although it’s free, get to Brookfield Place (at 230 Vesey Street) early to snag a prime spot near the action.

15. NYC Asian comedy festival
January 25 and 26

Hosted by the Peoples Improve Theater (The PIT), the first-annual Asian Comedy Festival takes place over two days in January. According to the group, the event hopes to “celebrate the burgeoning Asian comedy scene in NYC, and highlight some amazing Asian identifying performers and teams from around the world.” Acts include Asian AF, performers from the Asian not Asian podcast, AZN Pop, Overstep Comedy, Bryan Yang, Jes Tom, Karen Chee, Usama Siddiquee, and more. A two-day pass costs $30; get one here.

Photo by Mengwen Cao for the Abrons Arts Center

16. “Year of the Metal Rat” at the Abrons Arts Center and Wing on Wo & Co.
January 18, 4 p.m.

Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Arts Center will ring in the New Year the only way the Lower East Side can. Along with porcelain store Wing on Wo & Co. (the oldest store in the neighborhood), the arts center will host “Year of the Metal Rat” with performances by MazuDogs, Wan Chi Ming Hung Gar Institute Dragon and Lion Dance Team, Vincent Chong, and Wo Chan. Plus, enjoy DJ sets by HU DAT, Ushka, OHYUNG, and Yasmin Adele Majeed. Possibly the best part? Nom Wah Tea Parlor and Kopitiam will provide refreshments. RSVP to the event here.

17. Queens Museum with New York Chinese Cultural Center
January 26, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The Queens Museum is teaming up with the New York Chinese Cultural Center (NYCCC) for the sixth consecutive year for their family-focused Lunar New Year event. Taking place on January 26, the two-hour event features artists from NYCCC’s School of the Arts (expect a Kung fu demonstration, traditional dancing, and classic songs played on Chinese instruments) and a Chinese calligraphy workshop.

Bonus: The Market Line at Essex Crossing
January 25 & January 26

A massive new food hall on the Lower East Side is celebrating the Lunar New Year with offerings from local vendors and traditional performances. On January 25, the Market Line at Essex Crossing will offer a four-course prix fixe menu from Essex Pearl for $85, dumpling specials from Nom Wah, and other deals from Southeast Asia Food Group and Year of the Rat-themed cake pops from Rebecca’s Cake Pops. On January 26, enjoy a traditional lion dance performance with music from the NY Chinese FreeMasons. Plus, there will be a children’s scavenger hunt and a giving tree, all surrounded by classic Lunar New Year decorations.

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