5 Unmissable Vancouver Events for Lunar New Year

Photo: Metropolis at Metrotown

With the Year of the Dragon set to commence on February 10, 2024, it’s time to gather friends and family to celebrate the prosperity of the next year. As a bustling hub of the province—and the nation’s—Asian Canadian communities, Vancouver has a wide range of family-friendly activities for making this Lunar New Year special.

Here are 5 ways to mark Lunar New Year with joy and abundance:

Chinatown Spring Festival

Chinatown Gate. Entrance to Chinatown on Pender St

Vancouver’s Chinatown contains so much incredible history and heritage for Chinese Canadians. For that reason, the iconic neighbourhood plays such a vital role in Lunar New Year celebrations. This year is noteworthy for two reasons: 2024 is Year of the Dragon, which is prized in the Chinese zodiac; as well, the Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival is marking its 50th Anniversary on February 11, 2024. The festival, organized by a variety of non-profit and benevolent organizations (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), is multi-faceted and always an impressive display of community pride.

The biggest draw is the Chinatown Spring Festival Parade, which will begin at 11am on February 11 at the Millennium Gate before moving along East Pender and Gore Streets to its destination at the intersection of Keefer and Carrall Streets. Usually over 100,000 people attend this colourful three-hour parade, which encompasses diverse community groups, dragon dancers, lion dancers, as well as musical bands, and government representatives.

There will also be a Spring Festival Cultural Fair from 2pm to 4pm on February 11 at the Chinese Cultural Centre and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Courtyard. The Fair will feature performances and Lunar New Year activities.

The day will conclude with a Gala Dinner (February 11, 6:30pm; $55 per person, $550 for a table of 10, available via the Shon Yee Benevolent Association of Canada) at Floata Seafood Restaurant.  The evening will consist of lion dancing and other live performances, various greetings (e.g., God of Wealth), and a multi-course meal.

Timed with the parade, Get Lucky Art Show will be taking place February 10 (6pm to 10pm) and 11 (11am to 4pm) at 312 Main Street (entrance on East Cordova). This show, organized by District Local, will feature over 300 original lucky red envelope works by more than 88 emerging and established artists (e.g., Matt Bowen, Priscilla You, Sandeep Johal). They’ll be on sale at the event ($38 upwards), along with eats by Dicky’s Dumps at a dumpling bar. In addition, visitors can bid for items in the silent auction or enter a lucky raffle. Entry is free/by donation, with partial proceeds of the event going to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and the Vancouver Public Library Foundation.

Taste of Chinatown!

Photo: Vancouver Chinatown Foundation

The popular and delicious Taste of Chinatown! returns February 9-11, 2024. Presented by the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, this three-day festival celebrates Chinatown and its unique culinary offerings. On February 9 and 10 (11am onwards, quantities limited) at the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, there will be a pop-up with specialty food items: a jin dui boba (sesame paste, milk, red bean, and tapioca pearls) from Boba Run; a beef curry pastry from a collab between Chinatown BBQ and Beaucoup Bakery; and a BBQ pork pop tart from a collab between Chinatown BBQ and Kiko Nakata from Tall Shadow Bakery. Foo Hung Curios will also be selling Chinese Canadian-inspired chocolates from a collab with Hype Chocolate.

The Chinatown Storytelling Centre (50% off regular admission and youth 17 and under are free February 9-11) will also host numerous Lunar New Year activities that will be fun for the whole family. The God of Wealth will be visiting February 11 from 11am to 4pm and will be giving out treats to kids. There will also be colouring of dragon magnets on February 10 from 11am to 1pm (limited quantities; only one per person). And archival photos of past Lunar New Year festivities will be projected on the Chin Wing Chun Tong Society building above the Chinatown Storytelling Centre February 9-11 from 6pm to 11pm.

Over 45 establishments in Chinatown are also offering promotions from February 9-11. These include a second general admission ticket for 30% off at the Chinese Canadian Museum; a free two-piece of fried chicken at Juke when purchasing $20 or more in-store; and a free egg tart at Maxim’s with a $12 or more purchase. Chinese Restaurant Awards’ Founding Judge Lee Man has also curated a Critics’ Choice list of over 25 food establishments to check out in Chinatown, organized in six categories (e.g., Chinatown Noodle Pull, Chinatown Pastry Walk).

Finally, you can take part in the Chinatown Passport Prize Draw by getting 8 stamps from places taking part (purchase recommended). Passports are available at the Chinatown Storytelling Centre February 9-11 from 11am to 4pm. Prizes include a stay and brunch at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and two tickets to an Arts Club theatre production.


Photo: LunarFest

The theme for this year’s LunarFest is “Born to Be Free” in honour of flying dragons for this auspicious year. Programming spans February 5-25, 2024, with a wide range of activities. The popular and inspirational Lantern City returns to various venues across the city: Jack Poole Plaza, šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square (north of the Vancouver Art Gallery), Granville Island, and the Pendulum Gallery. Each location has its own dates and unique art. For example, Granville Island will feature Forever Young lanterns by artists such as Sarah Khan at Ocean Artworks from February 9-26. While you’re on Granville Island, you can visit the LunarFest Arts Market at Ocean Artworks on select days, featuring artists such as Kristina Luu (February 17-19) and Tajliya Jamal (February 10-11). You can also browse the Taiwanese craft exhibition “Island Tribute” February 10-11, 17-19, 24-25 from 11am to 4pm.

In addition to Lantern City, there will be a LunarFest Concert at the Orpheum on February 13 from 7:30pm to 10pm featuring the Harmonia String Ensemble, the West Vancouver Youth Band, pianist Anna Sagalava, and Daniel Lee and Van Lefan from the Jade Music Festival.

Finally, consult the LunarFest schedule for all sorts of other activities, such as artist talks, performances (e.g., dragon dances), and craft workshops (e.g., bamboo lantern workshops).

Metro Vancouver Malls

Photo: Metropolis at Metrotown

Shopping centres in Vancouver are ushering in Lunar New Year with rosters of displays, activities, and promotions. Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby has come up with 8 ways to celebrate the Year of the Dragon from February 9 to 24. They include a lion dance performance on February 14 at 10am in the Grand Court; photo opportunities with the Lucky Buddha, lucky packets, and a guzheng performance February 16 from noon to 2pm; a craft workshop on February 23 from noon to 2pm with artisans specializing in Chinese lanterns, gold phoenixes, and dragons; and a blossom tree in the Grand Court with lucky packets filled with a $25 gift card and a memento for those spending $288 or more.

Meanwhile, CF Richmond Centre not only has a décor installation at their Main Galleria and Old Navy Court until February 19, but also has many events to mark Lunar New Year. Fairchild Radio’s Mandy (aHoi) will be hosting a celebration on February 10 at 2pm that will feature dragon and lion dances, and an appearance by the God of Fortune. Other events include Chinse dragon art and dragon calligraphy February 14 from 5pm to 7pm and guzheng musical performances February 18 from 1pm to 3pm.

In addition, Aberdeen Centre in Richmond has tons planned for Lunar New Year. From February 2 to 11, there will be a New Year Flower and Gift Fair as well as a photo booth with the God of Fortune. A countdown night in the Central Atrium is scheduled for February 9, during which Fairchild Radio will host a stage show, there will be blessings from the God of Fortune, and Fairchild Television will do a live countdown. February 10 and 11 will showcase performances by dance and music groups in the Central Atrium, with lion and dragon dancing on February 10 in the outdoor courtyard.

Gardens in Vancouver

Photo: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

This year’s Lunar New Year Market at UBC Botanical Garden is bigger and better than ever. Taking place February 3-4 from 10am to 4pm, this market features local craft vendors (e.g., Clay & Glo), artists, and food trucks. The Garden will be selling their own potted plants and fresh/dried flowers. Ticketed workshops (e.g., sweet dumplings) will be held, as well as various activities and performances, such as VPL story time in English and Chinese, a mahjong workshop, and a lion dance and kung fu performance by the UBC Kung Fu Club. Tickets in limited quantities are $8.88 per person and free for kids 5 and under. Tickets allow you entry into the Asian Garden, depending on weather.

Finally, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is hosting a Lunar New Year Celebration on February 11 from noon to 5pm. The ticketed event ($5-$8 per person) will include numerous performances, such as lion and tai chi fan dancing and circus entertainers, as well as fortune telling, tea ceremonies, arts and crafts, and calligraphy. There will be street food for when you get hungry in between activities.

Those who are craft-minded will enjoy a Lunar New Year Let It Glow! Light Engraving Workshop, to be held February 10 at 10:30am and 1:30pm ($42 per person) at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. You’ll choose from 3 designs to engrave your own Lunar New Year-inspired light stand. All supplies, a red envelope, and free garden admission are included.

Happy Year of the Dragon, everyone!

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