New York City’s Chinatown is the largest in North America. When it’s time to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Manhattan’s Chinatown celebrates in true New York style- with glamor and fanfare.
This Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rat, begins February 6, 2007 when the new moon will be visible in the skies above Manhattan.
Chinatown Walking Tours
Chinese New Year celebrations do not happen spontaneously. Extensive preparations take place, not only for the visible displays like parades and firecracker ceremonies, but also for the spiritual journey. Asians preparing to celebrate the Chinese New Year assess their life experiences during the past year, the Year of the Pig. Major housecleaning is done to sweep out the old and make room for the new. A Chinese New Year’s Eve feast is prepared with numerous seafood plates, each representing a blessing such as abundance or prosperity.
Manhattan residents can learn about preparations for the Chinese New Year by taking a walking tour of Chinatown. These tours are offered on Saturdays January 26, February 2, and February 9 from 1 – 2:30 p.m. The tours begin at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), 70 Mulberry St. on the 2nd floor. Advance reservations are necessary and can be obtained by calling 212-619-4785 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. MOCA charges $12 for the tour for adults, $6 for students, seniors and MOCA members, and free for children 5 ad under.
Chinese New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival
In the wake of 9/11, the Chinese New Year Firecracker Ceremony screeched to a halt. But this popular Asian tradition has been reclaimed. This Chinese New Year, the Chinatown community will shoot off 600,000 firecrackers in a fusilade of color, sound and smoke to chase away evil spirits.
Organized by the Better Chinatown Association, the Firecracker Ceremony takes place at Chatham Square, at the intersection of Mott and East Broadway in the Bowery. It gets underway at 11 a.m. and is expected to draw crowds of 200,000 or more.
Leading up to the Firecracker Ceremony, Chinese opera singers and Lion Dancers from around the world will perform and public officials will take the stage to welcome the Chinese New Year. The Lion Dancers will parade through the crowd to the merchants doors where they will collect the traditional red envelopes containing cash that represent good luck and wealth at the Chinese New Year. After the Firecracker Ceremony, contemporary Asian entertainers will perform.
Vendors will set up a variety of booths at the Chinese Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival. Among the favorites are booths devoted to dumpling making, lantern making and face painting.
Ninth Lunar New Year Parade and Festival
Manhattan Chinatown’s Chinese New Year Parade is scheduled for Sunday, February 10, 2008 at 1 p.m. The parade steps off from Mott and Hester Streets and winds its way through every street in Chinatown. Optimal viewing is expected on Allen St. between Canal and Grand. The Manhattan Chinatown Chinese New Year Parade is expected to attract 400,000 viewers in the Year of the Rat.
Lion dancers and Dragon bearers are the hallmark of Chinese New Year parades. Besides these traditional dancers, parade goers can expect elaborate parade floats, glamorous beauty queens, agile acrobats, marching bands, and magicians in an explosion of color, sound and motion.
Several stages will be set up along the parade route for post-parade performances. These include dance, music, and marshal arts. The Chinese New Year Parade and Festival ends at 5 p.m.
Chinese New Year Splendor at Radio City Music Hall
New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV)’s Chinese New Year Splendor world tour performs at Radio City Music Hall through February 9, 2008. This classical arts performance uses dance, music and costumery to bring to life the history and legends of China. The artistry of Chinese New Year Splendor has received wide critical acclaim.
For more information and a clip of the performance, see the official website or call the Ticket Hotline at 212-695-SHOW. Ticket prices are $58, $88, $110, and $150 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster at 212-301-4111.
Radio City Music Hall is located at 6th Ave. at 50 & 51 St, New York, New York 10020.
Manhattan’s Chinatown spares no effort in ensuring that its Chinese New Year’s celebrations befit the strength of its Asian community.