Where to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Your Kids

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Chinese New Year begins on January 25th and there are family-friendly Lunar New Year celebrations of Year of the Rat all over the city! Immerse your kids in Asian culture at a variety of local festivals and events from downtown San Diego to Disney’s California Adventure. From lion dancing and colorful costumes to amazing entertainers and delicious Asian food, here’s the scoop on where to celebrate Chinese New Year in San Diego.

photo: Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

What is Year of the Rat?
The Chinese zodiac relates each year to an animal, for a cycle of 12 years. Chinese New Year commences on January 25, 2020, which marks the beginning of Year of the Rat. The Rat symbolizes wealth and surplus. People born in the Year of the Rat are said to be optimistic, energetic and well-liked.

photo: Matthew Baldwin via Flickr

San Diego Lunar New Year Festival
Celebrate Lunar New Year at this epic festival which features dragon and lion dances, firecrackers, games, food and more. It’s a festive environment you don’t want to miss. Event times vary by day. Jan. 17-19. Event details.

San Diego Tet Festival
San Diego Tet Festival 2020 celebrates Year of the Rat alongside their 15th anniversary. Attracting more than 25,000 people every year from all over the city, the 3-day celebration features free admission, a number of new attractions, activities, games, food and live entertainment, including, but not limited to, A-list Vietnamese singers and performers, lion dancing, firecrackers, the Miss Vietnam of San Diego pageant, Step-Up Dance and Golden Voice. Jan. 24-26. Event details.

photo: mliu92 via Flickr

Lion Dancers Celebrating Lunar New Year
Visit the library for this amazing cultural experience of watching traditional lion dancing with stunts and music. Jan. 24. Event details.

Chinese New Year Festival
Celebrate 2020 Year of the Rat at this spectacular Chinese New Year Festival! There will be lion dances, cultural performances, Chinese ethnic foods, crafts and calligraphy. Jan. 25 & 26. Event details.

photo: Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

Disney California Adventure Park
What better way to spend Year of the Rat than with the world’s most famous mouse? Disneyland Resort will welcome a year of good fortune with 24 days of Lunar New Year celebrations at Disney California Adventure from Jan. 17 – Feb. 9, 2020. Celebrating the Year of the Mouse, the limited-time festival allows guests of all ages to enjoy many exciting offerings, including the bright and bold Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, the return of the heartwarming “Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration” prior to “World of Color,” a Lucky Wishing Wall, delectable foods inspired by Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, and more. Jan. 17-Feb. 9. Event details.

San Diego Chinese New Year Fair
The 38th Annual San Diego Chinese New Year Fair is coming! Celebrate the Year of the Rat with 15,000 of your closest friends on the corner of 3rd Ave. and J St. in downtown San Diego. The fair will go on, rain or shine. There will be traditional and cultural entertainment all day long on both days, lion dances, kung fu, traditional instruments, classic Chinese dances, and so much more, so don’t miss out! You’ll also enjoy food, family-friendly entertainment, crafts for kids and a dragon dance! Feb. 8 & 9. Event details.

photo: Brian Yap via Flickr

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year at Home
There are many ways your family can celebrate the Chinese New Year. You can start by decorating your home. Add a splash of good-luck red and gold to your kiddo’s room with red lanterns, hanging firecrackers and other festive decorations. Party City stores around San Diego and elsewhere have Chinese New Year decorations. For decorations and even costumes that are the real deal, try an Asian import or grocery store, such as 99 Ranch Market. Don’t forget to search the library for books about Chinese New Year, that you can read together at home. The Internet also has free printables that kids can color while learning more about this important holiday.

Another easy decoration involves an antioxidant rich, kid-friendly fruit. Citrus trees of all sizes appear in the doorways of homes and offices during Lunar New Year. If a real tree is out of the question, pile oranges or tangerines high in a bowl, as they are thought to bring good fortune and health in the new year. Better yet, make it a fun project for the kids. Have them eat one a day for 15 days, the duration of Chinese New Year celebrations.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at one of San Diego’s best dim sum restaurants. Here are our favorite family-friendly dim sum spots.

A major part of Lunar New Year celebrations is cleaning the house from top to bottom in order to sweep away bad luck from the prior year and make room for good tidings. Explain this to the kids– and just maybe, they’ll clean their rooms!

––Leah R. Singer, Melissa Heckscher & Beth Shea


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