Celebrating the Chinese New Year is traditionally a fifteen day affair, and Chicago takes advantage of every day to ring in the new year. This year marks the Year of the Ox, or the year 4707, and begins on January the 26, 2009. Knowing what I do about the Year of the Ox, I for one am looking forward to 2009 because the sign is a hopeful one for anyone who has faced hard times and situations in the last year. In addition, children who are born under the sign of the Ox in general have a very patient and calm temperament, but when angered fire up very quickly. Here in Chicago there are several planned events, in addition to the general festivities that take place in and around Chinatown and other popular areas, for the entire family to enjoy. The following four events are the most popular and open to the public.
Chinese New Year Spectacular
The Divine Performing Arts is coming through Chicago again to perform its World Tour of the Chinese New Year Spectacular, just in time to get you ready for the big day. The Company performs traditional Chinese dance and music that tells the ancient stories and history of the diverse country. This year heroic figures, Chinese mythology and artistic dances come together on the stage of the Civic Opera House on December 27th and 28th of 2008, a little sooner than usual but still welcome.
Tickets run from $40 to $200 for adults and $35 to $180 for children. I have never attended the show with very young children, but I have found that grade school age children are sometimes more in awe of the production than adults in the show. If you enjoyed the Opening Ceremony of this summer’s Olympics in Beijing, you will definitely enjoy the Chinese New Year Spectacular.
2009 Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown, Chicago
Every year Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood hosts a New Year’s Day Parade down the main thoroughfare, Wentworth Avenue from 24th to Cermak Rd. This year’s procession will include the traditional 100 foot long mystical dragon, several marching bands, floats from individuals and businesses in the community and the annual favorites- the lion teams.
The parade kicks off at Wentworth and 24th, ending in Chinatown Square, on February 1st at 1:00 p.m. sharp. All public parking along the parade route is restricted on the day of the event, but you can still park in metered parking in the surrounding streets. I would recommend using the El, Red Line stop Cermak-Chinatown, which leaves you off right in the heart of all the action. www.chicagochinatown.org
26th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration
Another favorite annual event is the Lunar New Year Celebration hosted by the Asian American Coalition of Chicago. This year’s Gala is sponsored by the Korean American Community of Chicago, one of sixteen Asian communities that is chosen to sponsor the event on a rotating basis. While this is a ticketed event, it is open to the entire community and residents of Chicago and beyond.
The 26th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration takes place on Saturday, January the 24 of 2009 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL. Tickets are only sold at table prices of $800 for ten seats, www.aacchicago.org.
Chinese New Year at Navy Pier: The Year of the Ox
Celebrate the Chinese New Year at Chicago’s number one tourist attraction with the entire family in attendance. At Navy Pier this year, the Crystal Garden will be filled with the sounds of classical Chinese music and celebration as folk dancers, puppeteers and several choirs join Chicago in welcoming the new year.
Admission to Navy Pier and the Crystal Gardens is free. The event takes place on Saturday, January the 24, 2009 from noon to 5:30 p.m. Parking is available right at the Pier in the lower garages for a set fee. www.navypier.com