In 2009, the Year of the Ox, Chinese New Year falls on January 26, 2009. Like many other big cities around the world, New York City is already gearing up for multiple celebrations and activities. New York is home to not just one Chinatown but three: the well-known Manhattan Chinatown on Canal St., the enormous and sprawling Queens Chinatown on Main St. in Flushing, and a smaller Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park. With such a huge Chinese population, New York City is one of the best places in the world to learn about Chinese culture and celebrate Chinese holidays. Here are just a few of the Chinese New Year attractions NYC has to offer.
For those who want to make plans well in advance, there are a few Chinese New Year attractions in New York City that have already set their dates and times. The Qingdao Orchestra will be playing a celebratory concert at Carnegie Hall on January 26, 2009, featuring music by several Chinese composers. On the 24th and 25th of January, Radio City Music Hall will be hosting Divine Performing Arts, a company of classically trained Chinese dancers, musicians and choreographers, in their annual Chinese New Year Splendor.
Unfortunately, many Chinese New Year events are planned after New York City’s Christmas and New Year celebrations have died down, so the exact dates and times are not yet available. However, the following events are expected to take place in 2009. Links to websites have been included, so be sure to check them at a later date for exact dates and start times.
The Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival in Manhattan is typically held on the Sunday before the Chinese New Year (in 2009, that would be January 25th). Starting at Mott and Hester Streets and winding its way through Manhattan’s Chinatown, this parade includes Chinese singers, Lion Dancers, Dragon Bearers and more. Platforms will be set up along the route for musical and martial arts performances.
The Lunar New Year Parade in Flushing, Queens, is usually held the preceding Saturday, so that die-hard fans can enjoy both Chinese New Year parades. This parade begins at Union St. and 37th Ave. in Flushing and ends on Main St., which is the best place to view it. The performers then head to the Flushing Mall on 39th Ave. for folk performances, speeches by Chinese dignitaries and other VIPs, calligraphy, musical performances and of course food. The Flushing Town Hall, Flushing Library and Queens Library also host events, exhibits, craft workshops and song and dance programs.
The Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival in Manhattan’s Chinatown is another popular event, featuring…you guessed it…firecrackers! Setting off firecrackers is a traditional Chinese New Year practice that is supposed to ward off evil spirits. There’s much more to this festival than just firecrackers, though. Thousands of vendors will set up shop along the streets of Chinatown to sell traditional foods and wares, and give demonstrations in the art of dumpling making, paper folding and other Chinese specialties.
The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) hosts an Annual Lunar New Year Flower Market, an amazing event featuring local florists, artists, demonstrations, food and more. MOCA also offers walking tours through Chinatown (in English) to help acquaint visitors with Chinese customs, traditions and history in preparation for the Chinese New Year. These tours require reservations, though, so be sure to call in advance.
As you can see, Chinese New Year is an exciting time in New York City. With so many celebrations, festivals, workshops and demonstrations, there is something here for everyone at any age. No matter which celebration you choose, you are sure to have a great time and learn loads about Chinese culture and tradition!