Celebrated for thousands of years in various countries around the world influenced by Chinese civilization, the Lunar New Year remains one of the world’s most celebrated holidays. 2020 marks the Year of the Rat, the first of all zodiac animals. In Chinese culture, rats are seen as a sign of wealth, surplus and luxury.
This year’s Lunar New Year falls on Jan. 25, based on the appearance of the new moon. The holiday climaxes with the Lantern Festival, which falls on Feb. 8, 15 days after the new moon.
The celebration of Chinese New Year is a festive, colorful, loud, and incredibly fun holiday to enjoy, even if you aren’t Chinese. So, check out this list of the Best Lunar New Year Celebrations in Southern California and mark the special occasion by attending one with your family.
Best Lunar New Year Celebrations Near Los Angeles
Lunar New Year Festival, Monterey Park (Jan. 11 – 12)
The city of Monterey Park will ring in the the Year of the Rat with this annual 2-day festival. Over the course of five blocks of downtown L.A. streets, festivalgoers will enjoy everything from Asian cuisine, carnival rides, art, lion dances and much more. Admission is free.
Listen to a story, make a paper lantern, and learn the easy brush painting technique of sumi-e as you celebrate Chinese New Year at the library. Snacks provided. All ages welcome.
Lunar New Year Red Envelope Giveaway, Citadel Outlets, Los Angeles (Jan. 15 – Feb. 16)
Citadel Outlets will be honoring the ancient Chinese “Red Envelope” gifting tradition January 15 – February 16, by giving away red envelopes filled with gift cards and center promotions at the Customer Service Center. The tradition, symbolizing good luck and well wishes for the New Year, is a gift meant to express appreciation for the center’s wonderful shoppers and visitors from all over the world.
Acclaimed musicians from China and the US will be performing at this event to celebrate the 2020 New Year concert. The concert will be held at Bonita Center of the Arts on Jan 17th from 7:00 – 9:30 pm. Tickets available online.
9th Annual Chinese New Year Celebration in Beverly Hills at Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills (Jan. 18)
The Chinese New Year celebration in Beverly Hills showcases traditional craftsmanship, performing arts and culture. The 2020 Chinese New Year event will be divided into three parts: a variety show, a “Jing-Jin-Ji” photo exhibition and a cultural heritage crafts display and demonstration.
The variety show will feature performance groups from Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei with Chinese acrobatics, martial arts, folk dance, traditional music, Peking opera and more. The cultural heritage crafts display and demonstration will include Chinese culture painting and folk arts. During the VIP reception, guests can engage in a ceremonial tea service and paper cutting demonstration, while enjoying folk music and elaborate Peking Opera costumes.
Chinese New Year Celebration at Granada Hills Branch Library, Granada Hills (Jan. 18)
Come learn about traditional Chinese Music and Culture from musician Jie Ma. All ages are welcome. Free.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Lincoln Heights Branch Library, Lincoln Heights (Jan. 18)
Celebrate the Year of the Rat at the library while you learn more about the Chinese zodiac and make your own calendar to take home. Children of all ages are welcome. Free.
2020 Lunar Year Celebration at The Americana at Brand, Glendale (Jan. 19)
Celebrate the Year of the Metal Rat with lively performances, gourmet food, and cultural activities on The Green. This event is complimentary and open to the public from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.
Chinese New Year Spring Couplets Writing at Los Angeles Central Library, Los Angeles (Jan. 21)
Join us for a Chinese New Year Spring Couplets writing program. Free for all ages.
Lunar New Year at Universal Studios Hollywood, Hollywood (Jan. 23 – Feb. 9)
Celebrate the Year of the Rat during Lunar New Year at Universal Studios Hollywood. Join Po and Tigress from DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda in Po’s Village and savor Asian dishes at Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop. Meet Hello Kitty, Illumination’s Minions in traditional Chinese attire and Mandarin-speaking Megatron from TRANSFORMERS. Plus, enjoy fun activities, live entertainment and more.
Midnight Temple Ceremony at Thien Hau Temple, Los Angeles (Jan. 24)
LA Chinatown kicks off the Year of the Rat at Thien Hau Temple where attendees can experience traditional incense burning, make offerings to deities, watch traditional lion dancers, and witness 500,000 firecrackers in action.
Chinese New Year: Shanghai Nights at the Queen Mary, Long Beach (Jan. 25)
Celebrate Chinese New Year 2020 aboard the majestic Queen Mary! Chinese New Year: Shanghai Nights will celebrate the Year of the Rat with traditional Chinese culture, cuisine, and exhilarating entertainment. Located in the beautiful Grand Salon, this limited seating buffet dinner and show will be a feast for the senses surrounded by stunning decor.
Performances by Wushu Shaolin Entertainment will include Chinese Martial Arts, Dragon and Lion Dances, Ribbon Dances, Face Changer, and more. Chinese New Year: Shanghai Nights offers two seating times – 4pm and 8pm – with a variety of ticket options for your party.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica (Jan. 25)
Celebrate the Year of the Rat! Join us for traditional cultural performance, arts & crafts, and enjoy special offers from participating stores & restaurants at Santa Monica Place.
Join the Port of Los Angeles in celebrating Lunar New Year on the LA Waterfront. This free cultural festival offers free parking and free admission, with live entertainment, arts and crafts, face painting, and more.
Lunar New Year Festival at USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena (Jan. 25)
Join us for our annual Lunar New Year festival celebrating the Year of the Rat! Enjoy free admission to the galleries, live performances, art making workshops, food trucks, and more!
Chinese New Year Celebration at Citadel Outlets, Los Angeles (Jan. 25 -26)
Citadel Outlets is thrilled to welcome good fortune and joy in the Year of the Rat with vibrant, family-friendly celebrations for both the local community and Los Angeles-bound travelers. Live dancers will perform a variety of exotic lion dances, folk dances, traditional songs, drum ceremonies tai-chai displays and more.
Enjoy take-home art from calligraphy and watercolor artists, festive red and gold lanterns, twinkling lights and an authentic 17-ft Chinese pagoda decorating Center Court.
Chinese New Year Kung Fu Show at Shaolin Wushu Center, Los Angeles (Jan. 25 – 26)
Enjoy a Chinese New Year Kung Fu Show featuring Master Hu Jianqiang, Zhang Yaowen. All tickets include a raffle, red envelopes for kids and dinner after the show.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Original Farmers Market, Los Angeles (Jan. 26)
There is a Kung Fu demonstration, magic show, acrobatic performances, lion and dragon dances, craft stations and more. Admission is free.
Chinese New Year Gala 2020 at Almansor Court, Alhambra (Jan. 26)
Enjoy a holiday buffet banquet, VIP Speaker, cultural activity booths, spectacular performances, raffle prizes and more! Ticketed event.
Golden Dragon Acrobats Show at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Cerritos (Jan. 31)
Celebrate the Lunar New Year with the Golden Dragon Acrobats! The rich culture and colorful traditions of the Chinese people burst forth in this spellbinding display of award-winning acrobatics, traditional dance, spectacular costumes, ancient and contemporary music, and theatrical techniques. With grace, agility, and acute precision, performers deliver wondrous gymnastic feats in an awe-inspiring display of the Far East’s mystique.
Golden Dragon Parade & Chinese New Year Festival at Chinatown Central Plaza, Los Angeles (Feb. 1)
For over a hundred years, people have gathered in the streets of Los Angeles’ Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year and enjoy the Golden Dragon Parade, a tradition for the past 120 years. The parade includes beautiful floats, marching bands, government officials, various dignitaries, entertainers, local business leaders and cultural groups.
The free outdoor festival that runs throughout the day includes live dancing and music entertainment, cultural artisan classes, vendors, and local food trucks.
8th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration at Westfield Santa Anita, Arcadia (Feb. 1)
From 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm, enjoy traditional lion dances, live performances, candy spinning, games, raffles, calligraphy demonstrations, retailer offers, and more. Event is free, and 100% of proceeds donated from Raffles benefit the Asian Pacific Community Fund.
Chinese New Year Festival at Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, San Dimas (Feb 1-2)
Visit the stunning grounds of the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens for their annual Lunar New Year Festival as the Year of the Rat begins. The two-day festival includes lion dancers, mask-changing performances, martial arts, Chinese music and dance, painting and calligraphy demonstrations, children’s activities, and more. The event is included with general admission.
Alhambra Lunar New Year Festival, Alhambra (Feb. 1)
The city of Alhambra hosts this one-day-only Lunar New Year street festival to celebrate the new year. The festival has everything from dragon boat rowing stations to children’s workshops, cultural demonstrations, live music, dance, martial arts, and a plethora of Asian food to savor.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Walnut City Hall, Walnut (Feb. 8)
There will be a lion dance, firecrackers, live entertainment, music, food trucks, vendors, games, activities, and artistic. demonstrations. Admission is free.
San Gabriel Lunar New Year Festival at San Gabriel Mission District, San Gabriel (Feb. 8)
The San Gabriel Lunar New Year Festival combines tradition with modern celebrations, resulting in a unique festival that is enjoyable for all. The free festival will consists of street food fair, marketplace, chalk art contest, and kids zone!
The South Bay Lunar Festival invites families to come and enjoy over 75+ food and merchandise vendors, spectacular live performances, and fun Lunar surprises. Be sure to check out the Lion Dancers, Chinese instrument orchestra, and Shaolin Kung Fu.
Vietnamese Language and Culture Tet Festival 2020 at UCLA, Los Angeles (Feb. 9)
Tet celebration featuring traditional Vietnamese foods, games, decorations, art forms, lion dances and a fashion show. Admission is free.
Los Angeles Lantern Festival at El Pueblo Historical Monument, Los Angeles (Mar. 7)
Join the Chinese American Museum for the 19th Annual Los Angeles Lantern Festival. This free signature event culminates the Lunar New Year festivities with engaging community booths, museum tours, live entertainment, music, arts & crafts, and food trucks. On the stages, there will be all-day entertainment with lion dances, kung fu demonstrations, and other ethnic performances.
Best Lunar New Year Celebrations Near Orange County
Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure, Anaheim (Jan. 17 – Feb. 9)
Ring in the Lunar New Year with heartwarming traditions and warm wishes for a wonderful future. May health, luck and prosperity be yours! Starting January 17, Disney California Adventure Park will usher in the Lunar New Year with a joyous tribute to the Asian cultures.
Guests of all ages are invited to join us for an unforgettable experience—it’s the perfect opportunity to spend this auspicious occasion with family and friends. Here’s to your year-round good fortune! Regular admission applies.
- Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession
- Unique holiday entertainment
- Special appearances by some popular Disney Characters dressed in colorful event costumes
- Delicious Asian food
- Commemorative merchandise
- Kid-friendly crafts and activities
- Festive décor and more
Lunar New Year Celebration at Main Place Mall, Santa Ana (Jan. 18)
This free event for the whole family will have a face painter, balloon twister, crafts, stilt walkers, calligraphy artist, Wishing Tree, Lion Dances, giveaways and more. The festivities will take place in Macy’s Court and Center Court.
Lunar New Year Celebration at UC Irvine, Irvine (Jan. 21)
This free event will feature food, culture, a street festival, Disney raffle, lion dance and parade and a light and sound show.
Lunar New Year Celebration at South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa (Jan. 23 – Feb. 9)
A celebration including an exhibit adorned with 20 rats, live entertainment, and children’s crafts. The centerpiece exhibit will be on display Jan. 23-Feb. 9; entertainment and activities will be Jan. 25-26 and Feb. 1-2. It is free.
UVSA Tet Festival at OC Fair & Events Center, Costa Mesa (Jan. 24 – 26)
Celebrate the Lunar Year for 3 straight days at the Test Festival in Costa Mesa! Visitors will enjoy a wide array of traditional food, live entertainment, dance competitions, games, a fire cracker show with lion dancing, karaoke, community performances, as well as a pho eating contest. Saturday Ceremonial Special Free Entrance for people who wear traditional outfits (not including religious outfits), military or a scout uniform (no costumes). Valid only on Saturday from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
OC Tet Lunar New Year Festival at Miles Square Park, Fountain Valley (Jan. 24 – 26)
The OC Tet Festival marks the beginning of the new year and is the most important celebration in the Vietnamese-American community. This free event will feature live entertainment, lion dances, carnival rides, games for all ages, a firecracker lighting ceremony, Vietnamese cultural performances and a bounty of Vietnamese food.
Join Fashion Island in celebrating Lunar New Year with a unique one-of-a-kind Year of the Rat interactive installation along with special promotions from retailers and restaurants. Be sure to check out the installation located at the Atrium Lawn by Hyde Park Jewelers and Vince for Instagram-worthy moments.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Outlets at San Clemente, San Clemente (Jan. 25)
Honoring the Year of the Rat, the fifth annual Lunar New Year Celebration returns with more than 70 performers from the Irvine Chinese School and San Diego-based Three Treasures Cultural Arts Society. Highlights include a Dragon Dance, the ever-popular interactive Lion Dance, martial arts demonstrations, arts and crafts activities, Red Envelopes and more. Free.
Lunar New Year at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa (Jan. 25)
Join us for Pacific Symphony’s annual festivities honoring the Lunar New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Rat, this performance is sure to sell out once again as audiences from across our communities come together to feast on a colorful presentation of Eastern and Western music and dance.
Celebrate The Year of the Rat at Pretend City, Irvine (Jan. 25)
Join us as we celebrate this most special date on the Chinese Calendar. Lunar New Year, also referred to as the Spring Festival, has long been celebrated for centuries. Today, we celebrate Chinese traditions through fun, bright, activities and cultural learnings. Stop by the Art Studio to let your light shine as we cut, color, and decorate your own lanterns.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center, Irvine (Jan. 25)
During the celebration there will a traditional Lunar New Year Lion Dance in the main rotunda area located in front of Lollicup and Chef Hung.
Celebrate Lunar New Year at The District at Tustin Legacy, Tustin (Jan. 25)
Bring your family to celebrate The Year of The Rat at The District at Tustin Legacy’s Lunar New Year Celebration in The Promenade near Union Market Tustin. The free family festivities will feature performances including lion dancers, kid’s crafts, glitter body art, balloon twisting, and a Lucky Red Envelope giveaway to the first 500 guests.
Red Envelope Giveaway at Outlets at San Clemente (Jan. 25 – Feb. 2)
Full of gifts and wonder, the Red Envelope symbolizes good luck and fortune. Pick up your free Lucky Red Envelope from Customer Service for the chance to win special offers and prizes from your favorite brands. Limit one per household while supplies last.
Little Saigon Tet Parade, Garden Grove (Jan. 26)
Little Saigon Tet Parade is the largest and most watched event of its kind in the United States. The parade features marching bands, floats, lion dances, color guards, veterans and youth organizations, martial arts, multi-culture traditional attires from diverse communities, elected officials, Vietnamese Scouting organizations, community organizations, and much more.
Lunar New Year Celebration at OCTA’S Irvine Station, Irvine (Feb. 1)
There are two ways to get a free ride on Metrolink to the Los Angeles Golden Dragon Parade! Be one of the first 200 attending OCTA’s Irvine Station celebration, or enter their Metrolink ticket contest. The festivities at OCTA’s Irvine Station will include a traditional lion dance, prizes, and refreshments.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Irvine Spectrum, Irvine (Feb. 1)
Celebrate Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rat at Irvine Spectrum Center on Saturday, February 1 from 12:00 – 2:00 pm. Activities to take place in the Giant Wheel courtyard include:
- Chinese dragon dance
- Lion Dance
- Greeters distributing fortune cookies
- Lucky envelopes
- Arts & Crafts
The Lunar New Year KidX Event will have crafts, giveaways, and traditional drummers and lion dancers at the lower level court next to John’s Incredible Pizza from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm. Registration required for this free event.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Cerritos Towne Center, Cerritos (Feb. 2)
This free event will include two Chinese Lion Dance performances, kid’s crafts, balloon art, Lunar New Year specials, and the first 500 people will receive lucky red envelopes.
Chinese New Year Festival at Bowers Museum, Santa Ana (Feb. 2)
Celebrate the Year of the Rat with dance, music and art from China, Vietnam and Korea. Dragon and lion dances by JC Culture will welcome in the new year. Enjoy a sample egg roll while creating paper lanterns and art scroll projects as you contemplate the diligence and positivity of those born in the year of the Rat. Free admission.
Lantern Festival 2020 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa (Feb. 22)
Bring the entire family and join us for Pacific Symphony’s annual Lantern Festival, celebrating the Year of the Rat! The Lantern Festival, which can be traced back 2,000 years, takes place 15 days after the Lunar New Year—on the first full moon night in the lunar calendar—and marks the return of spring, representing the reunion of family.
The act of lighting and appreciating lanterns is a way for people to let go of the burdens of their old selves and express their best wishes for themselves and their families for the future.
You’ll have the opportunity to decorate your very own lantern, take in live music, try your hand at solving a riddle, take a Chinese folk dance lesson and more! Admission is free, but tickets are required.
Best Chinese New Year Celebrations in the Inland Empire
Lunar New Year Gathering at All Saints Episcopal Church, Riverside (Jan. 22)
Celebrate the Lunar New Year – the year of the rat! Join us after our regular Wednesday night yoga and meditation for a meet up with beautiful friends and good cheer. Beverages and sweet treats provided. Your loved ones are also welcome to attend.
Riverside Lunar Festival at Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside (Jan. 25 – 26)
The Riverside Lunar Festival will have over 100+ food and merchandise vendors, spectacular live performances, and fun Lunar surprises. Be sure to check out the Lion Dancers, Chinese instrument orchestra, and Shaolin Kung Fu. Best of all, the event is free!
Lunar New Year Festival at Ontario Mills, Ontario (Jan. 31 – Feb. 2)
Ontario Mills is ringing in the Lunar New Year with a family-friendly festival including face painting, Lion Dancers, Kung Fu and more! The Year of the Rat celebration at Ontario Mills will include:
- Spin the Wheel Prize Giveaways
- Musical Performances
- Stilt Walkers
- Photo Booth
- Lion Dance Performances
- Kung Fu Performances
- Face Painting
- Balloon Twisters
Best Lunar New Year Festivals Near San Diego
Lunar New Year at SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego (Jan. 11 – Feb. 2, select dates)
San Diego Lunar New Year Festival at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego (Jan. 17 – 19)
The Lunar New Year is an important Asian holiday that has been celebrated for thousands of years throughout the world, especially in Asia. The festival includes an array of exotic food stations, unique vendor booths, cultural village, non-stop live entertainment and concerts, dog costume contest, carnival rides, Pho eating contest, plus traditional martial arts demonstrations and Lion Dance performances, firecrackers show. Ticketed event. Free parking.
San Diego Midnight Lion Dance Show, San Diego (Jan. 24)
Come celebrate the Year of the Rat at the 2020 San Diego Midnight Lion Dance Show featuring incense, loud firecrackers, traditional Chinese drumming and a spectacular Lion Dance show.
Chinese New Year Festival at House of China at Balboa Park, San Diego (Jan. 24 – 26)
Come celebrate the Chinese New Year at the International Cottages in Balboa Park. An array of lisee, hongbao and red envelopes will be￼ handed out at the House of China craft booth.
San Diego Tet Festival at Mira Mesa Community Park, San Diego (Jan. 24 – 26)
The San Diego Tet Festival is the longest running Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival in San Diego and attracts more than 20,000 people over the course of the three-day celebration each year. The festival is popular due to its free admission and variety of cultural attractions, activities, games, food and live entertainment, as well as lion dancing, martial arts, firecrackers, and our most popular program, the Miss Vietnam of San Diego pageant.
Annual Lunar New Year Lion Dance & Firecracker Show at World Foods Supermarket, San Diego (Feb. 2)
Come join us for our 16th annual Lunar New Year Lion Dance and Firecracker show. It’s free and fun for all ages. Come early to get a front row seat and see all the action.
The Shanghai Chinese Orchestra at Jacobs Music Center / Copley Symphony Hall, San Diego (Feb. 3)
Celebrate the Lunar New Year with the beauty of Chinese music played on traditional instruments. With the sounds of bowed and plucked strings, winds and percussion, the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra evokes vivid imagery of China’s splendor in a vibrant performance of traditional folksongs and newly orchestrated works. A fascinating musical evening in which East meets West.
The San Diego Chinese New Year Fair showcases exciting performances, Asian art and culture, an array of delicious Chinese and Asian food, and much more.
San Diego Chinese New Year Fair at Third Avenue and J Street, San Diego (Feb. 8 – 9)
This annual two-day fair is hosted by the San Diego Chinese Center with over 50 food and commercial booths with continuous live performances on stage, lion and dragon dancers, cultural displays, and children’s arts and crafts.
How do you celebrate Lunar New Year in Southern California? Did I miss any events? If so, please let me know in the comment section below!
Happy Lunar New Year!