Lunar New Year

Where to welcome the Year of the Rat

Courtesy Oakland Museum of California

Cities celebrating the Year of the Rat

In 2020 the Chinese New Year – also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival – falls on Saturday, January 25 and will be followed by 15 days of celebrations marking the transition from the Year of the Pig to the Year of the Rat.

While this is a major family-oriented holiday for many Asian communities, all are welcome at the colorful parades, festive pageants and impressive fireworks displays that will take place in Hong Kong, Singapore, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and many other cities.

Hotels, restaurants, museums and other venues will be offering special packages and events as well to welcome travelers and “consumers who are increasingly embracing their own and others’ multi-cultural backgrounds,” said Joy Lu, assistant professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

Here’s a sampling of celebrations we gathered first for CNBC.

Lunar New Year in New York City

Lunar New Year, Chinatown, NYC. Walter Wlodarczyk _NYC & Company

Many Chinatown neighborhoods throughout New York City will host Lunar New Year events, but two of the key celebrations are the Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival on January 25 and the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival in Lower Manhattan on February 9.

The Mandarin Oriental, New York is offering a Celebrate Chinese New Year package from January 24-February 9, 2020 that includes daily breakfast for two, $50 dining or spa credit and other perks. Rates start at $745/night. The hotel will host a traditional Lion Dance in the lobby at noon on January 24(complimentary) and a special cocktail called The Jade Rat ($24) will be on the menu throughout the month in the Aviary NYC bar.

Celebrate in San Francisco or Oakland

Dragon mural sketch – Artist David Cho, The Dragon School affiliate

In San Francisco, which boasts the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, the Chinese New Year Parade dates back to the 1860s. This year’s parade takes place Saturday, February 8 with elaborate floats and costumes, lion dancers and a 288-foot-long Golden Dragon carried by a team of 180 people.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, located near Chinatown, will offer a special Chinese Afternoon Tea ($80) on Sunday, January 26 and a Lunar New Year Tasting Menu ($155/per person) on January 31 and February 1, 7 and 8. On January 20, artists from Oakland’s Dragon School will begin painting a dragon-inspired mural across multiple interior and exterior hotel walls.

And the Oakland Museum of California will hold its annual Lunar New Year Celebration on Saturday and Sunday, February 8 and 9. The event is free with museum admission and includes live cultural performances, demonstrations, hands-on activities, food, traditional and contemporary music and dance, a petting zoo and more.

Lucky Lunar New Year in Las Vegas

Courtesy Las Vegas News Bureau

As is their tradition, many Las Vegas venues commemorate the Chinese New Year in an over-the-top way, with decadent culinary offerings, impressive décor and lots of live entertainment.

The Las Vegas Spring Festival Parade takes place on January 25 in downtown Las Vegas as part of the Chinese New Year in the Desert festivities, with elaborate floats and costumes and dragons.

The Forum Shops inside Caesars Palace will welcome back the 22-foot-long celebratory, good-luck dragon adorned with 30,000 flickering red and amber LED lights.

From January 11 to March 7, the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens will honor the Year of the Rat with elaborate creations made from flowers, seeds, silks and plants. In addition to a gilded gold rat sitting on gold ingot bowls, the gardens will feature four other golden rats bringing more ingot bowls up a gold staircase, as well as two 20-foot gold coin trees.

And starting January 15, the waterfall atrium between The Venetian and The Palazzo will sport a  2,000-pound, 18-foot tall golden rodent sculpture surrounded by a garden filled with red and orange bromeliads, golden yellow chrysanthemums and red and yellow orchids.

Celebrate Lunar New Year in Rhode Island. Or Dallas 

Courtesy Castle Hill Inn

Castle Hill Inn, a Relais & Châteaux property in Rhode Island, is offering a two-night Chinese New Year Travel Package January 24 through February 2 that includes a special Cantonese-inspired Chinese New Year dinner for two, a Chinese-inspired welcome amenity, gourmet breakfast and afternoon tea. Rates start at $525+/night mid-week and $595+/night weekend, based on a two-night stay. 

And why not celebrate the Chinese New Year with skating and shopping?

From January 14 through February 8, look for a striking display of more than 250 giant red lanterns hanging over the ice-skating rink at the Galleria Dallas mall in Texas, which has the Westin Galleria Dallas on-site.

Chinese New Year in London, Hong Kong or Singapore

Courtesy Fullerton Hotel Singapore

Major Lunar New Year celebrations will take place in a wide variety of other cities, including a parade in London’s West End on January 26; a four-day International Chinese New Year Carnival January 25-28 in Hong Kong and the Sydney Lunar Festival, January 25 to February 9, in Australia.

A wide variety of Chinese New Year events and festivals will take place in Singapore, including the Mardi Gras-inspired Chingay Parade, January 31 to February 1, with fireworks, firecrackers, laser lights, pyrotechnics and performances.

And if you do make it to Singapore to welcome the Year of the Rat, Stephen Scott, Luxury Travel Advisor at Protravel International, recommends dinner at the iconic Fullerton Hotel Singapore. In addition to a wide variety of Chinese New Year feasts being offered now through February 8, the hotel’s Jade Restaurant is serving a special edition Gold Rush Salmon Yu Sheng adorned with an image of a rat and a traditional gold coin made from white, green and pink radish strips. The dish must be ordered three days in advance and costs about $287. 

Chinese New Year at airports & on planes

Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year celebrations begin this weekend and airports and airlines are celebrating the Year of the Rooster with decorations, special meals, promotions and events.

Vancouver International Airport, a major trans-Pacific hub, has special decorations in the terminals and a wide variety of events planned for this Friday, including a traditional Lion Dance, retail specials and an appearance by the Fortune God who will hand out red envelopes to lucky passengers who will have a chance to win prizes.

At San Francisco International Airport, which boasts that it serves more cities in China than any other North American airport, look for special Lunar New Year graphics on signs, on the airport’s social media outlets and on its website.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will celebrate the Lunar New Year on Friday, Jan. 27 with traditional and modern Chinese music from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Asleep at the Wheel stage, located across from Gate 10.

Lunar New Year activities at Hong Kong International Airport include daily Lion Dance performances and multiple chances to meet and greet the God of Fortune.

At Singapore’s Changi Airport, which does everything in a big way, the terminals are decorated with festive decorations and plants, the popular Pokémon installation has receive a seasonally-appropriate makeover, and there will be an award-winning Lion Dance troupe performing in the terminals on multiple days. The Fortune God Mascot will also be on hand distributing fortune cookies.

To mark the Lunar New Year, Cathay Pacific will be serving two types of festive puddings (Red Dates Pudding and Turnip Pudding with Conpoy and Chinese ham) to travelers in first and business class cabins on many long haul flights.

Qatar Airways is also celebrating the Chinese New Year by serving a special Spring Festival-inspired menu on board flights to popular Asia destinations from January 28-30.

Deal-wise, United Airlines is offering promotional fares (through Feb 1) on its flights to Hangzhou, China from San Francisco and other cities and Plaza Premium Lounge is running a Chinese New Year ‘Buy 3 Get 2 Free’ offer on lounge gift cards that is valid through February 6.

And Eva Air is celebrating the year of the Rooster with a special Chinese New Year menu on flights outbound from Taipei to North America and Paris on January 27, 2017 and special Chinese New Year-themed service items on these same flights from January 27 to February 5, 2017.

Many service items on Eva Air’s Hello Kitty Jets have also been refreshed for the Chinese New Year, and some new characters – Gudetama and Bad Badtz-maru are featured on the themed paper napkins, headrest covers and the traditional red envelopes handed out to family members and loved ones  to wish them health and prosperity this time of year.

 

Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rabbit

The Chinese New Year (often referred to as Lunar New Year) falls on February 3rd this year and will be welcomed in Asian communities worldwide with two weeks of food, firecrackers, parades, lion and dragon dances and other events designed to sweep away the old year and welcome in a new one filled with good fortune.

Chinese zodiac-wise, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, and those born under this sign are said to be ambitious and lucky. That’s why guests visiting the elaborate garden display at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas will be greeted with an 18 foot tall God of Prosperity and a 12-foot tall hare with a coat made from 4500 plants. “We provide our guests with a wow factor at every point of contact,” said Andres Garcia, the hotel’s executive director of horticulture. “That includes making sure the display reflects the authenticity of Chinese legend and, in this case, longevity and good fortune for the Year of the Rabbit.”

Not heading to Vegas? You’ll find Chinese New Year celebrations in Beijing, Vancouver, Washington, D.C. and in Singapore’s Changi Airport, where festivities will include food sampling, plate spinning, fortune telling and a roving God of Fortune.

You’ll can also celebrate Chinese New Year in these lucky cities:

Seattle is among the cities that will begin its celebration of the Lunar Year on the weekend before February 3, to allow as many people as possible to participate in cultural activities, a food walk and entertainment that includes Lion and Dragon dances, Taiko drumming, martial arts and the community’s 2nd annual Children’s Parade contest.

Because 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, “Children are invited to enter their pet rabbits in a contest for Rabbit of the Year,” said Youlee Wang of the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area. Thankfully, no such contest was held in 2010, during the Year of the Tiger. More details here.

San Francisco’s Chinese New Year celebrations also begin this weekend with a ribbon cutting and Flower Fair filled with candy, fresh fruit, blooming flowers and other supplies with symbolic meaning for a new year. Entertainment will include traditional lion dancing, Chinese opera and martial arts demonstrations. Events continue through February 19th, when the world-famous grand illuminated Chinese New Year Parade will roll out with extravagant floats, lion dancers, more than 100 marching bands and school groups, Chinese acrobats, plenty of firecrackers and a 250-foot dragon that must be carried by more than 100 people.  More details.

Bonus: Anyone born in the Year of the Hare (1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 and 2011) gets free admission to Lunar New Year festivities at the San Francisco Zoo on February 13th.

In New York City, a Firecracker Ceremony to ward off evil spirits and a festival filled with cultural performances and dances will take place on February 3rd in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood.  Floats, acrobats, performers, marching bands and lion and dragon dancers will take part in the annual Lunar New Year Festival and Parade on February 6th.  More details.  And for the next few weeks, Chinese New Year events at the Museum of Chinese in America will include walking tours, lectures, special exhibits and a Lunar New Year Festival Family Day.

Chinese New Year Honolulu

In Honolulu, there will be a Chinese New Year Celebration with ethnic foods, martial arts demonstrations and entertainment in the Chinatown Cultural Plaza beginning on Saturday afternoon January 29th. The day ends with a parade that starts at the Hawaii State Capitol and includes various Narcissus Festival Queens and their courts, cultural organizations, lion and dragon dance associations and a 150-foot long dragon. An evening block party will continue the festivities with two stages of live music, more cultural performances and plenty of firecrackers. More details.

Chinese New Year Sydney

In Sydney, Australia, the Chinese New Year celebration kicks off Friday, January 28th with the opening of New Year Markets featuring crafts and martial arts demonstrations, a karaoke competition and visits from dancing lions and dragons. The festival continues with Dragon Boat races and cultural events leading up to a spectacular Twilight Parade on February 6th that ends with a huge fireworks show in Darling Harbor. More details.

Bonus: China’s Hubei province is sending a 250-member troupe to Sydney with floats, hip-hop artists, dragons and performers who will demonstrate Wudang martial arts (made famous by the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and the traditional Tujia Waving Hand Dance.

Flower markets offering auspicious blooms and plants for the New Year kick off Hong Kong’s Chines New Year celebration on January 28th. The city’s Chinese New Year Night Parade will take place on February 3rd, with more than a dozen illuminated floats, performers from around the world (including cheerleaders and a choir from the U.S.), marching bands, street performers and traditional dragon and lion dancers. A spectacular fireworks display takes place February 4th over Victoria Harbor. More details.

Chinese New Year Las Vegas

Those born in the Year of the Rabbit are said to be articulate, ambitious and lucky. So what better place to ring in the Chinese New Year than in Las Vegas? Through March 5th, the Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is displaying a symbolic and, of course, over the top Lunar New Year garden that includes a 35-foot Chinese Junk Boat with a 38-foot mast, a Ming Dynasty-styled gazebo and a 12-foot tall rabbit made with more than 4,500 live plants. Eight baby rabbits (so far), each made of 500 live plants, are in the garden as well.

The Bellagio installation also includes oversized red-for-good-luck silk Chines lanterns, an 18-foot-tall Chinese God of Prosperity and seven replica Terracotta Warriors covered in crushed walnuts and ground carrot seeds. Lucky for you, the exhibit is free and open 24 hours a day.

[My Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit story appears in a slightly different version on msnbc.com]