Where to celebrate Lunar New Year in the US

The celebration of the New Year for those who use the lunar calendar goes by many names ⁠— Lunar New Year, Spring Festival and, of course, Chinese New Year. But the celebrations are common around Asia, not just China. 

It’s considered one of the most important festivals of the year: a time to do away with the negativity of the previous year and welcome in the new and the good. In the US, most celebrations are centered around the Chinatown areas of larger cities, where lavish parades, delicious food and myriad cultural experiences all pay homage to culture and community. 

If you’re looking to celebrate the Lunar New Year in the US, here are some of the best places to experience this joyous opportunity to bring in the good. 

San Francisco, California

San Francisco throws one of the oldest and biggest Lunar New Year celebrations in the US, with the first one having taken place here as early as the 1860s. Originally held in the city’s Chinatown, today the event is not just a parade, but a week-long festival. The main attraction is the Grade parade, which will be held right downtown on the corner of 2nd and Market on February 19 starting at 5:15 pm. The larger festival, which runs from January 29 until the day of the parade, includes a street fair and a Miss Chinatown pageant, both of which take place in San Francisco’s famous Chinatown neighborhood. 

Don’t miss: The architecture of San Francisco’s Chinatown is beautiful and worth a trip even without a festival. Swing by the iconic Dragon’s Gate before making your way down to the Chinese Historical Society of America to learn more about the history of this community. Further afield, take a short ferry ride to Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay, which is sometimes called the Ellis Island of the West coast.  

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Chinese New Year celebration in New York's Chinatown
New York City’s Chinatown is one of many Lunar New Year celebrations here © Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images

New York City, New York

New York is home to several Lunar New Year celebrations, with nearly every borough hosting their own. But the main event  is held in Manhattan, in the heart of the city’s Chinatown. This event has a street fare vibe, with vendors and performances in the neighborhood, alongside the main parade on February 9, which starts at 1 pm on the corner of Mott and Canal. There are also additional events around town, such as a performance at the New York Philharmonic on February 8 and the Firecracker Ceremony at Sara D. Roosevelt Park on January 31.

Don’t miss: The epicenter of Asian American culture in New York today is actually the borough of Queens. Take the subway to Downtown Flushing and stroll along Main street to support the many Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese businesses there. This area also holds its own Lunar New Year festival and parade on January 29.

Houston, Texas

There are quite a few Lunar New Year celebrations going on in the city of Houston, both online and off. The Texas Lunar Festival will be virtual this year due to COVID-19. Starting at 11 am on January 29, a variety of cultural performances will be streamed on the local channel 15.3 as well as on YouTube and Facebook.  The city’s Chinese Community Center and an organization called TexAsia, however, have planned their own celebration, which will be in person. Taking place in the city’s “Asiatown” on February 5, from 10 am to 4 pm, this celebration will feature a variety of cultural activities as well as vendors.

Don’t miss: The Asia Society of Texas is a great place to learn more about the city’s Asian American community. The institution hosts artistic, educational and business oriented exhibitions and events meant to help showcase and celebrate the diverse perspectives of the city’s Asian American community. 

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The dragon dance performed at the Lunar New Year celebration in Boston.
Traditional lion dances are a staple of Lunar New Year celebrations in Boston and other cities © 

Boston, Massachusetts 

Boston has the third largest Chinatown neighborhood in the country and as such tends to have an equally large celebration for Lunar New Year. This year, in addition to a parade featuring the traditional lion dance, there will be a beauty pageant, as well as various arts and craft demonstrations. The event goes from 10 am to 3 pm on February 13, with the parade starting around 11 am. It begins in Philips Square and winds its way through Chinatown, which becomes a pedestrian only area during this time to make way for the festivities.  

Spokane, Washington

This year’s Lunar New Year celebration is particularly important for Spokane, as it will be the first such celebration since 1933. The event will include a variety of performances, food, artist exhibitions and a fireworks display, and will take place at the Central Pavilion in Riverfront Park on February 5starting at 1 pm and continuing into the evening. In addition to celebrating the city’s Asian community, the festivities will also include organizations from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities as well. 

Disneyland – Anaheim, California

After a COVID-19 related hiatus, Disneyland’s Lunar New Year festival is back. Three times a day, from January 21 to February 13, a procession of traditional dancers and musicians will join Disney characters in a parade from Pixar Pier Gate to Paradise Gardens Obelisk. A special Lunar New Year Market and menus will also be available, alongside themed arts and crafts opportunities for children. The parade is free to visitors of the park.  

The Chinatown Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Chicago’s Chinatown is a community hub for Asian Americans in the city © eyfoto/Getty Images

Chicago, Illinois

This year, Chicago has two separate parades to celebrate Lunar New Year, as well as several other activities spread out across the week that highlights and celebrates the city’s Asian American community. The first celebration, which takes place on February 13 in the city’s Chinatown, will feature a traditional parade that begins at 1 pm and travels north on Wentworth Avenue. The second parade will take place in Uptown Chicago on February 5, starting at Argyle and Winthrop at 1 pm sharp. In honor of the holiday, the city will also be host to free film screenings and an online Chinese film screening series by Asian Pop-up Cinema from February 1  to February 15.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dilworth Park in Center City, Philadelphia is hosting a traditional lion dance for Lunar New Year on January 29 from 5 pm to 7 pm. The location is also home to Rothman Orthopedics Ice Rink, which means that visitors can indulge in a little ice skating and food alongside the festivities and continuing on into the evening. There will be an additional midnight lion dance performed in Chinatown on January 31 by the Philadelphia Suns Lion Dance troupe.

Don’t miss: Visit the city’s Chinatown to get a look at the beautiful Chinatown Friendship Gate, which was created by artist Sabrina Soong. Also in the heart of Chinatown is the Asian Arts Initiative, which hosts an art gallery and theater dedicated to showcasing a variety of artists from this community. 

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