Diverse Ways to Celebrate Lunar New Year in Vancouver

Photo: Metropolis at Metrotown Year of the Rabbit Celebrations

The Lunar New Year begins January 22, 2023, ushering in renewed prosperity, abundance, and connectivity. The Chinese zodiac names 2023 as the Year of the Rabbit, which is characterized as being hopeful and gentle, yet nimble.

Vancouver’s diverse and vibrant Asian populations will be hosting numerous events to usher in the Lunar New Year, including a parade, community gatherings, as well as meals to promote good fortune and togetherness.

The 48th Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Celebration

Red and Gold Silk Lanterns, Chinatown, Vancouver, detail

Chinatown’s beloved Spring Festival Celebration returns January 22, an initiative of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association, S.U.C.C.E.S.S., Chinese Freemasons Vancouver Branch, and Shon Yee Benevolent Association of Canada. The Celebration will consist of three parts, the first being the highly anticipated parade (estimated 100,000 attendees), which will start at 11am on East Pender Street at Taylor Street and ends at Keefer and Carrall Streets (2.5 hours). The parade will feature lion dance teams and lions from fraternal and martial arts groups. After the parade, visitors to Chinatown can enjoy more lion dancing and a Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Fair (2-4pm at Sun Yat-Sen Plaza, 50 East Pender Street). Lastly, a gala dinner will be held at Floata Seafood Restaurant at 6pm.

Soar Over Taiwan

Photo: Soar Over Taiwan

Fly Over Canada is marking Lunar New Year with a new experience called Soar Over Taiwan, running from now until February 12. Participants will fly over well-known Taiwanese landmarks and features such as Green Island, the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival, major cityscapes, as well as tea farms. Fly Over Canada will have lucky trees for hanging your paper wishes, in addition to Taiwanese treats, such as bubble tea and egg tarts, at their Flying Whale Waterfront Café.

LunarFest Vancouver

Photo: LunarFest

Launched as part of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, LunarFest spotlights Asian arts and culture in Vancouver. This year, the festival will be happening at a variety of locations. The Vancouver Art Gallery North plaza and Granville Island (Ocean Art Works) will be the sites for The Lantern City (VAG – January 20-February 7, Granville Island – January 20-February 20), as well as LunarFest Celebrations (VAG – January 21-22, Granville Island – January 21-February 20), which will include workshop activities, art exhibitions, crafts, music, and live performances.

The Lantern City will also be taking place at Jack Poole Plaza (January 20-February 15). The Lantern City initiative aims to engage artists who may be new to celebrating Lunar New Year but are eager to contribute their artistic expressions to the festivities. For example, Jack Poole Plaza will showcase the work of Ovila Mailhot (Nlaka’pamux and Sto:lo Nation); George Littlechild (Plains Cree); Walis Labai (Diingwuu Wu/Sediqu Tribe); and Arucangli Rusagelet (Paiwan Tribe) in Coastal Lunar Lanterns entitled Lost in Nature.

LunarFest is organizing West End Wishes at Cardero and Robson Street in Vancouver’s West End. While details are still to be announced, last year they had a display by Taiwanese Canadian artist Lady Hao Hao.

And finally, LunarFest is hosting a concert Together We Are! at the Orpheum (also available via livestream). Performers include Vivaldi Choir, West Van Youth Strings, and Juno-nominated Ginalina.

Lunar New Year at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Chinatown, Vancouver

There are so many ways at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden to recognize the rich cultural traditions tied to the Lunar New Year. The serene Garden is holding a full roster of activities and performances January 21 to 22 from 11am to 6pm. Highlights include a lion dance by the Hon Hsing Athletic Club, a performance by City Opera Vancouver, and storytelling by Keann Suen and Mia Zhou. Other activities range from arts and crafts to various food and drink available (e.g., dumplings by Dicky’s Dumps, single origin teas by Teakan, and noisette cookies by Olivia). They’ll also be launching a new exhibition, Billion Buns by Chairman Ting.

Metropolis at Metrotown

Photo: Metropolis at Metrotown

Metropolis at Metrotown, the province’s largest shopping mall (over 330 stores), will hold eight lucky activities for celebrating the Year of the Rabbit from January 22 to February 5. First of all, visitors can appreciate the Lunar New Year decorations (#1), such as lanterns and cherry blossoms (#2).  The popular mall will have lion dancers (#3) performing January 25 at 10am as well as cultural dance performances (#4) Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Art workshops (#5) will also be held, such as calligraphy and papercutting, and the God of Wealth (Tsai Shen Yeh) will be present in the mall for photo opportunities. Visitors who spend a certain amount or more ($188 before tax, same day) get the chance to spin a wheel (#6) for $20 gift cards at participating retailers (e.g., Hudson’s Bay Company), as well as an extra spin for a lucky wish, as well as a surprise gift box. Plus, everyone who visits the mall can enter for three $888 gift cards. And finally, for every spin, Metropolis at Metrotown will give $5 to Angels on Earth Society, which offers free Chinese cultural education to students.

Aberdeen Centre: Flower and Gift Fair

Photo: Aberdeen Centre

Aberdeen Centre is bringing back their Lunar New Year Flower and Gift Fair. Running January 13-22, the Fair will feature vendors on both levels of the Centre.

Live Reading of Bun Fun New Year at the Gateway Theatre

Illustrations by Cherry Lu

Richmond’s Gateway Theatre is holding a live reading of Bun Fun New Year, which centres on Bunnithy and Bunnifer getting ready for a Lunar New Year feast. Kids can practice fun bunny moves and engage in creative arts and crafts after the reading.

Lunar New Year at the Vancouver Public Library

The oval building of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library at Georgia and Homer

On January 18 from 6pm to 8:30pm, the Central Library of the Vancouver Public Library is offering a traditional tea ceremony led by Joyce Ji from Wang Family Teapots, music by the BC Chinese Music Association, and predictions for the Lunar New Year from Sherman Tai, who is a fortune teller and feng shui master. Meanwhile, the Kensington Branch is holding a Lunar New Year Puppet Show, along with crafts, on January 17 from 3:30pm to 4:30pm, while Marpole Oakridge Family Place will be featuring songs, stories, and crafts January 21 from 2pm to 4pm.

UBC Botanical Garden: Lunar New Year Market

For the first time, UBC Botanical Garden is holding a Lunar New Year event, taking place January 14-15. It will be held at the Reception Centre and will involve lion dances, dance performances by YunTang Dance Club and UBC Hanfu Culture Society, kung fu performances by UBC Kung Fu Club, flowers and plants for sale, as well as local artisan vendors, such as Clay & Glo, Simply Homayd, and The Pawlosophy.

Rabbit Lunar New Year 2023 x Vinahouse Party

Studio Nightclub is presenting Rabbit Lunar New Year 2023 x Vinahouse Party. The 19+ event involves live Vietnamese singing performances, Vietnamese karaoke, a social media livestream challenge, and hip hop by DJ 2E and a guest DJ.

Lunar New Year Meals at Vancouver Restaurants

Mott 32 whole lobster salad with abalone; Photo: Amy Ho

And last but certainly not least, given Vancouver’s incredible selection of stellar East Asian and southeast Asian restaurants, there is no shortage of special food options for celebrating Lunar New Year.

At Mott 32, Group Chinese Executive Chef Lee Man Sing and Vancouver’s culinary team have dreamed up a special auspicious menu for Lunar New Year, available January 20 to February 5, available for lunch and dinner, a la carte or as a set menu. Dishes include a dried oyster bean curd roll; Alaskan king crab meat with e-fu noodles, supreme broth, and egg; and braised free range chicken with chestnuts, and 8-year aged hua diao. Specially-curated wine pairings are available for these special items.

A.Bento, which specializes in Taiwanese cuisine, is selling three Rabbit Gift Boxes. Rabbit Gift Box A comes with spicy chili sauce, garlic sauce, XO sauce, and pineapple chili sauce; Rabbit Gift Box B has spicy chili sauce, garlic sauce, a fortune cookie, and fortune meringue; and Rabbit Gift Box C consists of a vaccum packed frozen set of Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, braised pork hock, sesame oil chicken sticky rice in lotus leaf, and braised lion’s head. Pre-order for pick-up/delivery from now until January 23.

The Chinese Restaurant Awards is taking part in the Scotiabank Feast of Fortune Charity Gala at JW Marriott Parq Vancouver on February 11 to raise funds for St. Paul’s Foundation’s work at the Clinical Support and Research Centre on the Jim Pattison Medical Campus. The Chinese Restaurant Awards team has assembled veteran and emerging culinary stars. The Awards are also helping to raise funds by selling Gifts of Fortune for Lunar New Year: premium artisan XO sauce and a poon choi feast by Chef’s Choice Chinese Cuisine; and a supreme white peony and monkey picked tieguanyin premium tea gift set curated by Lam Kie Yuen Tea Co. Ltd;

Many additional establishments are creating Lunar New Year-inspired menus. From now until February 19, Notch8 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver has a Lunar New Year Afternoon Tea, which features items such as chilled “char siu” sablefish tea sandwiches, Hainan chicken steamed bao, red bean macarons, and egg custard tarts. Additionally, Holts Café in Holt Renfrew is hosting a Lunar New Year Afternoon Tea from now until January 29 with sweet and savoury treats such as mushroom and black truffle spring rolls, smoked sablefish croquettes, and white rabbit mini cupcakes.


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