This February 16, 2018, marks the Chinese New Year and the beginning of “The Year of the Dog.” That means there will be celebrations all around the globe for banishing back luck and bringing good luck into homes and lives for everyone who celebrates the dawn of a new lunar year.
There are around 3.8 million Chinese-identifying people in the U.S., which means there will be a whole lot of festivals, parades, respected cultural practices, and delicious food nationwide. The Daily Meal has compiled a list of cities across America that have authentic lunar new year celebrations accessible to the devout, the curious, and everyone in between.
So if you’re lucky enough to live in one of these cities, be sure to take in the celebrations — and if not, consider taking a road trip or a plane ride to visit one of the best American cities to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Boston is home to the third largest Chinese community in the United States. Pair that with the fact that the city has one of the only remaining Chinatowns in New England, and the festivities can get wicked packed and eventful. Boston hosts an annual Chinese New Year Parade featuring traditional lion dances, drums, firecrackers, and lanterns.
Chicago is home to a thriving Chinese population both on the south and north sides of the city. There is a massive celebration at Navy Pier, another up north in the Argyle area (an area that attracts people of many Asian ethnicities), a lantern festival at the Art Institute, and a Chinese Lunar New Year Parade through Chinatown. This year, Chicago favorite Fat Rice has teamed up with Cards Against Humanity to create enormous fortune cookies that feature silly and naughty fortunes.
Hawaii is one of the more beautiful spots in the U.S. to celebrate the lunar new year. Festivities include the Narcissus Queen Pageant (said to be the oldest ethnic pageant of its kind the in U.S.), the New Year festival held in Honolulu’s Chinatown, lion dances, and a gorgeously lit nighttime festival!
Las Vegas is known for going all out on holiday decorations, and Chinese New Year is no different. Restaurants, hotels, resorts, and even The Strip are decked out in red and gold. The city also offers events like dragon dancers and food vendors selling traditional lunar snacks like mooncakes, dumplings, and long noodles symbolizing a long life.
Skip Downtown LA — Monterey Park is where the best SoCal Chinese New Year celebration is held. According to the city’s website, the Lunar New Year festival draws in crowds of anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 people. There are food booths with golden-looking mooncakes, dumplings, and long noodles (symbolizing a long life) as well as lion dances, fire crackers, entertainment, shopping, and carnival rides!
New York’s Chinese New Year parade shuts down the streets of Chinatown for its elaborate performances. There are fireworks during the day, vendors selling traditional snacks for luck, and celebrants dressed in traditional cheongsam dresses. Tired of the parade but still looking to celebrate? New York has some of the best Chinese food in America.
Chinese New Year is celebrated in Philadelphia at the Independence Seaport Museum, International House Philadelphia, and the Penn Museum. There is also a parade through Philly’s Chinatown, which houses multiple Asian cultures, not just Chinese.
Portland has a ton of things to do for Chinese New Year. Lan Su Chinese Gardens has a lantern viewing with a dragon performance, and the Oregon Convention Center will hold its annual Chinese New Year Cultural Fair. Plus “Old Town Chinatown,” as it is called, is one of Portland’s oldest neighborhoods.
Chinese New Year is huge in San Francisco, with most of its activities behind held in its historic Chinatown (one of the oldest Chinatowns in the U.S.). There is a massive parade with both lion and dragon dances, firecrackers, drums, gongs, and even an appearance by the winner of Miss Chinatown USA. Stop by any number of San Francisco’s Chinese restaurants for some of the best dim sum in the country!
What makes Seattle’s Lunar New Year so special is a “$3 Food Walk” where some of the restaurants in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District offer tastes of their varied Asian cuisine. The city is huge on multiculturalism — the Vietnamese Lunar New Year is also recognized during the week before Chinese New Year at the Têt Festival in Seattle Center.
For the year of the dog, D.C. is celebrating with a parade and festival with kung fu demonstrations and live entertainment. The Kennedy Center is having a “family day” with a special focus on China’s Chengdu Plain, known as the native home of the magnificent giant panda. Don’t see your city listed but still want to celebrate? Go to dinner at the best Chinese restaurant in your state and order some long noodles as is traditional to symbolize a long life for the years to come.