Chinese New Year marks the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. The celebration is alternately known as the Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year. There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and the Year of the Rooster begins on January 28, 2017.
As BC’s largest city, Vancouver plays host to much of the province’s Chinese New Year revelry. The annual parade through the streets of Chinatown, held this year on Sunday, January 29 at 11 a.m., is a highlight. Crowds line the streets to cheer on a multitude of performers in traditional costume. See lion dances and other cultural dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, marching bands, and more. The parade kicks off at the Millenium Gate on Pender Street, and finishes at Keefer and Abbott. See the route map here.
Other hot spots around the city include the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the first authentic Scholar Garden built using traditional techniques outside China. The garden will host a special exhibition, Coming Home: Traditions of Chinese New Year, from January 17 to February 24, and a Year of the Rooster Temple Fair will be held on January 29. See traditional lion dances, tai chi demonstrations, and try your hand at themed arts and crafts.
Vancouver’s International Village will be in celebration mode for four days (Thursday, January 26 to Sunday, January 29), with live performances, art exhibitions, and vendor booths. January 12 to February 26, FlyOver Canada will be showing Flight of the Dragon; soar over both China and Canada back-to-back for the regular price of admission. And the city’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Oakridge Centre shopping mall present performances and activities as part of LunarFest. See art installations, hear live music, and check out the Rooster Winter Games.
Richmond, just south of Vancouver, has a population of approximately 50% Chinese descent. As such, Chinese New Year is a big deal here. The celebration begins on January 9 at Yaohan Centre mall, with a Flower Market and a Lucky Bag Redemption (spend a certain dollar amount at the mall, and receive a bag with surprise gifts), and culminates in a weekend of cultural performances, and a spectacular golden dragon and lion dance at Aberdeen Centre on January 28. Additional events are held into early February, including fortune telling at the River Rock Casino Resort on February 3 and 4.
While you’re in Richmond, indulge in traditional cuisine. The food in Richmond is said to be the best outside of China, and it plays a very important role in the Chinese New Year. Richmond alone has more than 400 Asian restaurants, and many prepare elaborate, multi-course meals for this special occasion. Must-eats include long noodles, for long life; dumplings, for wealth and prosperity; spring rolls, thought to resemble gold bars; and lettuce wraps, because the Chinese word for “lettuce” is also the word for “fortune.” Restaurants are often filled to capacity at this time of year, so be sure to reserve early. Reservations for small groups may still be available.
BC’s capital city is home to Canada’s oldest Chinatown, and the second oldest in North America. Shop along the one-metre (three-foot) wide Fan Tan Alley, and sample the finest Chinese teas as you explore a maze of alleyways and courtyards. For Chinese New Year, head to the Gate of Harmonious Interest, an intricate monument rich with symbolism (look for lions, dragons, and phoenixes), and watch the colourful Lion Dance, and annual event that draws hundreds of spectators, rain or shine.
Featured image: Chinese New Year Parade in Vancouver. Photo: Andy Weststeyn via Facebook
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