12 Lunar New Year Celebrations You Don’t Want to Miss

Just when you thought all the New Year’s festivities were over, we’ve got the scoop on New Year, part two—the Lunar New Year, that is. The holiday begins of Jan. 25, kicking off 15 days of colorful celebrations perfect for family fun. Kids will love the vibrant parades, fireworks and entertainment, while parents will be all over the delicious food and cultural traditions (tiring out the young ones is an added bonus)! Keep reading for our list of favorite places to celebrate the Year of the Rat.

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Pacific Asian Museum
This year’s free Lunar New Year Festival includes artmaking workshops, food trucks, and cultural performances featuring music, dance, acrobatics, and martial arts. Patrons will also receive free admission to the museums’ galleries all housed in a Chinese Qing dynasty-inspired mansion boasting a collection of more than 15,000 items that span over 5,000 years!

Good to Know: Because it takes place in various areas of the museum, it’s easy to get to a quieter space in the galleries if the littles are getting antsy (or have them focus on a craft for a bit) and there’s always the Koi pond which brings a sense of zen to all ages.

Date: Sat., Jan. 25
Hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free

46 N. Los Robles Ave.
Online: pacificasiamuseum.usc.edu

photo: Matthew S. via Yelp

Touted as the largest Chinese New Year celebrations in the country, Los Angeles’ Chinatown kicks off the Year of the Rat in a big way with cultural performances, kid’s activities, gourmet food trucks, a movie screening, cultural artisans, and plenty of hands-on fun for all ages. The festivities get underway with the famously celebrated (over-one-hundred-year-old) Golden Dragon Parade which starts at Hill & Ord Streets at 1 p.m. on Sat. There will be hundreds of spectacular floats, decked out cars, dancers, and bands parading through the heart of Chinatown. The Lunar New Year Festival starts after the parade with cultural performances by some of the nation’s best Chinese acts and continues all weekend with live music, storytelling, face-painting, art demonstrations, and hands-on workshops, magic acts, and even a film screening.

Good to Know: For an added adventure that your little ones will love, take the train! With all the street closures in effect this day, parking will be nonexistent so head to your closest LA Metro hub and jump on the Gold Line which takes you right to the Chinatown station.

When: Sat. Feb. 1
Hours: 12p.m.-8 p.m.
Cost: Free

951 N. Broadway
Los Angeles
Online: lagoldendragonparade.com

photo: M.L. via Yelp

The Huntington Gardens
Ring in the Rat surrounded by botanical beauty as far as the eye can see by taking your garden gnomes to celebrate the Lunar New Year at The Huntington. This two-day (Feb. 1–2) festival takes place in the expansive Chinese gardens and includes lion dancers, mask-changing performances, martial arts, Chinese music and dance, painting and calligraphy demonstrations, children’s activities, and more.

Good to Know: If the February air is still a bit chilly, make a quick stop at the newly renovated Red Car coffee shop (inspired by the Pacific Electric Railway) for a delish coffee or hot chocolate to warm those cold hands.

When: Sat. & Sun., Feb. 1-2
Hours: 10a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Included with the price of admission

1151 Oxford Road
San Marino
Online: huntington.org/calendar

photo: Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

Disneyland California Adventure Park
As if there isn’t already enough to do at Disneyland, celebrating the Year of the Rat at California Adventure means getting treated to a slew of special offerings including special Asian-inspired food booths, live musical performances and a lively parade starring Mulan and her faithful dragon, Mushu. Artsy kids will love the complimentary craft booths including Chinese calligraphy, paper lantern making, and free face painting. There’s also a Lucky Wishing Wall where all those hopes for the New Year can be written onto special paper and hung up for all to see. Be sure to find a spot near Paradise Park for “Mulan’s Lunar New year Procession,” which features mesmerizing dances, energizing drumbeats and a huge dragon puppet that’ll have your kids totally wowed (plus a host of Disney favorites to keep them engaged). All of this fanfare can really work up an appetite so treat the family to cultural cuisine offerings at the temporary food booths set up along the parade route. All feature genuinely tasty (albeit Disney-fied) Asian cuisine that even kids will enjoy, like a Mickey-shaped Chinese hot dog bun and crispy shrimp fried rice with bacon, garlic, and edamame. A “Sip and Savor Pass” is also available, which gives you six food items for $42 (a slight bargain) if you want to really dig in.

Good to Know: The Lunar New Year Celebration takes place along the California Adventure parade route between Paradise Garden Park (across from the Little Mermaid Ride) and Paradise Pier.

Dates: Jan. 17-Feb. 9
Hours: Varies
Cost: Entertainment is included with the price of admission; food, drinks, and merchandise are priced individually

1313 Disneyland Dr.
Online: disneyland.disney.go.com

Universal Studios
Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations take place within Universal Plaza, located at the heart of the theme park, and is included in the price of admission to Universal Studios Hollywood. And boy does Universal know how to usher in this holiday! Under a curtain of traditional red Chinese lanterns and stunning plum blossom Wishing Trees, the festivities will come to life as guests discover the 12 zodiac animal signs accompanied by their symbolic attributes. Your mini minions can see Po and Tigress from the Kung Fu Panda Adventure attraction up close and personal as they greet guests entering the park (for those with artistic flair, you can even learn how to draw Po and take home the drawing as a keepsake memento). Continuing on with the special character guests, Hello Kitty herself will be on-site stepping out in style wearing her signature red bow and specially designed Lunar New Year attire. If all of this weren’t enough to get the kiddos revved up, how about a run-in with Megatron from the Transformers franchise? This imposing robot leader of the Decepticons will be speaking actual Mandarin and will be engaging guests in real-time conversation (so make sure only the bravest of your brood takes on this challenge)! With so much more to experience such as Mandarin-speaking tour guides, Minions wearing festive attire and lots of cultural food options, this is a great time of year to visit the theme park.

Good to Know: Speaking of food, Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop returns by popular demand to serve up delicious Asian themed food, and Mr. Ping himself will be on hand to interact with guests (which is always a treat in itself). Or check out CityWalk’s Dongpo Kitchen which has yummy Sichuan options available for your family’s dining pleasure.

Dates: Thurs., Jan. 23 thru Sun., Feb. 9
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Included in the price of admission

100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City
Online: universalstudioshollywood.com

The Original Farmer’s Market 
To celebrate the most important day of the year on the Chinese calendar, and the beginning of the Year of the Rat, The Original Farmers Market, is hosting a Lunar New Year celebration. Festivities include Lion dances, a magic show, Korean fan dances, martial arts demonstrations, arts and crafts, and much more!

Date: Sun., Jan. 26
Hours: 2p.m.-5p.m.
Cost: Free

6333 W 3rd St.
Los Angeles
Online: farmersmarketla.com

Queen Mary
Celebrate the Chinese New Year: Shanghai Nights aboard the majestic Queen Mary where the Year of the Rat will be honored with traditional Chinese culture, cuisine, and entertainment featuring Wushu Shaolin lion and dragon dancing, Wushu Warriors Shaolin acrobatics, a guzheng ensemble, Chinese ribbon dance, traditional fan dance, acrobatics, and more. This limited seating event will be a feast of the senses surrounded by stunning decor, a buffet-style dinner featuring classic Chinese cuisine, followed by live entertainment. With the hefty price tag, this event lends itself more to a special occasion sort of outing but is certainly worth its weight in yuan!

Date: Sat., Jan. 25
Hours: 4p.m.–6 p.m. & 8p.m. – 10 p.m. (2 showings)
Cost: $103 for ages 5 & up, kids 4 and under are free; VIP packages are available.

126 Queens Hwy.
Long Beach
Online: queenmary.com

Beverly Hills
The 2020 Chinese New Year will be celebrated in three parts at The Saban Theatre: a variety show, a “Jing-Jin-Ji” photo exhibition and a cultural heritage crafts display and demonstration. The variety show will feature performance groups from Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei with Chinese acrobatics, martial arts, folk dance, Peking opera and more. The cultural heritage crafts display and demonstration will include Peking Opera costumes, ceremonial tea service, and traditional folk music.

Date: Sat., Jan. 18
Hours: 3 p.m.
Cost: $10 each

8440 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills
Online: lovebeverlyhills.com

photo: Chris B. via Yelp

Pretend City Children’s Museum
Take your young explorers to this popular tot spot where they will celebrate this most special date by honoring centuries-old Chinese traditions through fun, bright, activities and cultural learning. Bring the Lunar New Year to light with traditional Chinese lantern making where everyone will get to cut, color and decorate their very own lanterns. Folks from the Irvine Chinese School and Ni Hao Chinese will also be on hand to lead your little ones in play-based activities highlighting Asian customs.

Date: Sat., Jan. 25
Hours: 11a.m.-3p.m.
Cost: Included in the price of admission

29 Hubble
Online: pretendcity.org

Citadel Outlets
To celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Rat, Citadel Outlets will host their annual Lunar New Year celebration where the whole place will be decked out in celebratory décor with festive red and gold lanterns hanging everywhere. Shoppers can feast their eyes on exciting lion dances (traditionally used to bring luck and good fortune) and will have the opportunity to take home art from calligraphy and watercolor artists!

Date: Sat. & Sun., Jan. 25-26
Hours: Noon-3p.m.
Cost: Free

100 Citadel Dr.
Online: citadeloutlets.com

photo: Creative Commons

Santa Monica Place
Commemorate the Year of the Rat with Santa Monica Place’s annual Lunar New Year celebration. This family-friendly celebration will include authentic cultural performances and activities such as the traditional Chinese lion dance, Korean fan dance, martial artist demonstrations, Asian inspired arts and crafts, stilt walkers, K-Pop dancers and much more!

Good to Know: If your culture club still has some energy left after all this excitement, stroll around the adjacent 3rd Street Promenade for more street performer and dining options.

Date: Sat., Jan. 25
Hours: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free

395 Santa Monica Pl.
Santa Monica
Online: santamonicaplace.com

photo: Creative Commons

Port of Los Angeles
Join the Port of Los Angeles for the sixth annual Lunar New Year Festival on the LA Waterfront. This community event will feature cultural performances, face painting, arts & crafts, a petting zoo, and a fireworks finale.

Good to Know: In case of rain, the event will be moved to the Port of Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club.

Date: Sat., Jan. 25
Hours: 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: Free

425 S. Palos Verdes St.
San Pedro
Online: portoflosangeles.org

Andie Huber, Missy Heckscher & Jenifer Scott



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