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. 2018 marks the Year of the Dog, a modest and loyal animal that represents honesty, intelligence, and reliability.
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 in Los Angeles
Lunar New Year Festival, Monterey Park (Feb. 3-4)
The city of Monterey Park will ring in the the Year of the Dog 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.
Lunar New Year at Universal Studios Hollywood, Hollywood (Feb. 10-25)
Come celebrate the Year of the Dog during the Lunar New Year festivities February 10-25. Join Po and Tigress from the award-winning Kung Fu Panda franchise in an all-new recreation of Po’s Village in Universal Plaza. Meet and greet with some of your favorite characters including Illumination’s Minions in traditional Chinese attire and Mandarin-speaking Megatron from TRANSFORMERS™. Plus, enjoy fun activities and live entertainment, and savor Asian dishes at Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop.
East Meets West Annual Lunar New Year Celebration at San Marino Community Church, San Marino (Feb. 11)
Enjoy Chinese New Year cultural activities and food demonstrations including a Gong Xi Fa Cai photo booth, calligraphy, dumpling making, children’ craft, and candy making. There will also be Chinese New Year legend and storytelling by Ivy Sun. Plus, an award-winning program with the Lion Dance, Chinese traditional music, a Chinese fashion show (Manchurian costume and Qi-Pao) and Korean Folk Dance. Ticketed event.
Ring in the Chinese New Year by Flights of Fantasy Story Theater at Studio City Library, Los Angeles (Feb. 13)
Come celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year with a collection of folk tale performances and interactive storytelling. Free and fun for the whole family.
Chinese New Year Celebration at Citadel Outlets, Los Angeles (Feb. 16-17)
Citadel Outlets is thrilled to welcome good fortune and joy in the Year of the Dog with vibrant, family-friendly celebrations for both the local community and Los Angeles-bound traveler. Live dancers and artists from the Los Angeles Chinese Cultural Center will perform a variety of Chinese dragon dances, folk dances, traditional songs, drum ceremonies tai-chai displays and more.
Throughout the month of February, shoppers will also have the chance to enjoy festive red and gold lanterns, twinkling lights and an authentic 17-ft Chinese pagoda decorating center court.
Golden Dragon Parade & Chinese New Year Festival at Chinatown Central Plaza, Los Angeles (Feb. 17)
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 119 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.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica (Feb. 17)
Enjoy Asian-themed stilt walkers, traditional Korean fan dancers, a Chinese music duo, a Chinese dough artist, balloon twister, Chinese dragon dance and The Voice’s Katherine Ho as emcee. Also, don’t miss out on their gong and Wishing Trees, on property February 16-19.
Chinese New Year Festival at Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, San Dimas (Feb 17-18)
Visit the stunning grounds of the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens for their annual Lunar New Year Festival. This two-day festival includes lion dancers, mask-changing performances, martial arts, Chinese music and more. The event is included with general admission.
Alhambra Lunar New Year Festival, Alhambra (Feb. 24)
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.
Los Angeles Lantern Festival at Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles (March 3)
Join the Chinese American Museum for the 17th 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.
Best Lunar New Year Festivals in Orange County
Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure, Anaheim (Jan. 26 – Feb. 18)
Disneyland will commemorate the Year of the Dog with a celebration that is bigger than ever. The multi-cultural celebration, will take place at the California Adventure Park and you’ll get to discover culturally inspired food, entertainment, music, festive decorations, and much more.
Multicultural musicians will be on hand, along with a new Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession where Characters Mulan and Mushu lead eye-catching performances for all to enjoy. In addition, there will be plenty of Asian cuisine to savor, as well as a nighttime water show named “Hurry Home.” Regular admission applies.
Chinese New Year Festival at Bowers Museum, Santa Ana (Feb. 5)
Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with the excitement of the Lion Dance and the beauty of Traditional Chinese music and dance. Art demonstrations and projects for the entire family. 11 am – 3:30 pm, free admission.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Outlets at San Clemente, San Clemente (Feb. 10)
Join us for free family fun and entertainment featuring more than 50 performers from the Irvine Chinese School and San Diego-based Three Treasures Cultural Arts Society. Highlights include a Dragon Dance, interactive Lion Dance, martial arts demonstrations, arts and crafts activities, face painting, Red Envelopes and more.
Chinese New Year Concert with Pacific Symphony at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa (Feb. 10)
Join Pacific Symphony’s annual festivities honoring the Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog, this performance is sure to sell out as audiences from across Orange County come together to feast on a colorful presentation of Eastern and Western music and dance.
Let’s Celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dog at Pretend City, Irvine (Feb. 15)
Gong Hey Fat Choy! That means “Happy Chinese New Year.” Today at Pretend City, immerse your child in a cultural experience as we celebrate Chinese New Year and learn about Chinese traditions!
Time: Morning Activities: Good To Go Game @ 11:00am
Afternoon Activities: Sensational Story Time @ 3:00pm
- Smart Art: D is for Dog > Today, in the Art Studio, children will learn about the letter D and it’s sound as they create a D shaped dog in celebration of the Chinese New Year of the Dog.
- Sensational Story Time (11:00am): My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz > Join us in Orange Plaza as we read a story which follows one little girl as she learns how to welcome the coming year and experience all the festivities surrounding it. After this reading, children will enjoy a snack of Tangerine/Orange Slices for good luck.
- Sensational Story Time (3:00pm): D is for Dragon Danceby Ying Chang Compestine > A is for Acrobats. B is for Balls. C is for Calligraphy. D is for Dragon Dance. From firecrackers to noodles, from red envelopes to the zodiac, young readers are introduced to the exciting traditions of the Chinese New Year visually stunning homage to the holiday.
Activities included with museum admission. $2 discount admission for those in a Chinese Cultural, Dog, or Dragon Costume.
UVSA Tet Festival at OC Fair & Events Center, Costa Mesa (Feb. 16-18)
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.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Fashion Island, Newport Beach (Feb. 17)
Come celebrate Lunar New Year and the Year of the Dog at Fashion Island on Saturday, February 17 from 1 pm – 3 pm.
Activities to take place in the Bloomingdale’s/Neiman Marcus courtyard include Chinese dragon dancers, Korean fan dancers, Asian calligraphy artist, greeters distributing fortune cookies, lucky envelopes, Asian themed stilt-walkers and live music.
Lunar New Year Celebration at Irvine Spectrum, Irvine (Feb. 18)
Celebrate Lunar New Year and the Year of the Dog at Irvine Spectrum Center on Sunday, February 18 from 1 pm – 3 pm.
Activities will take place in the Giant Wheel Court including lucky red envelopes, Korean fan dancers, Chinese lion dance, Asian themed stilt-walkers and live music.
Best Lunar New Year Celebrations in the Inland Empire
Asian Pacific Lunar New Year Festival, Riverside (Jan. 27)
Celebrate The Chinese New Year at the Asian Pacific Lunar New Year Festival in downtown Riverside. On hand will be Traditional Asian music, dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, displays of beautiful art, and more.
To start off the day, there will be a parade of nations at 10 a.m, and to close in the evening, there will be a fireworks display to ring in the Lunar New Year. Visitors will be transported to the Orient with decor and cultural displays. Make sure you visit the Children’s Village for free arts and crafts. Free admission.
Lunar New Year Exhibit Reception at Ontario Museum of History & Art, Ontario (Feb. 10)
Meet the artists featured in the Lunar New Year exhibit. Light refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Reservations Required. Free Admission.
San Gabriel Lunar New Year Festival at San Gabriel Mission District, San Gabriel (Feb. 10)
The entire community will bring in the Year of the Dog at the 4th Annual San Gabriel Lunar New Year Festival. The free festival includes a dance competition, street food fair, crafts village, dessert land, a chalk art competition, beer and wine garden, art and shopping, a kids zone and live entertainment.
Lunar New Year Festival at Ontario Mills, Ontario (Feb. 17)
Ontario Mills is hosting a spring festival Saturday in celebration of the Lunar New Year. The event features cultural lion dancers, stilt walkers, face painters, balloon artists, a photo booth and more.
Best Lunar New Year Festivals in San Diego
Lunar Year Tet Festival at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego (Feb. 9-11)
The San Diego Lunar New Year Festival offers a fusion of Asian food stations, unique vendor booths, carnival rides, non-stop live entertainment (including lion dances, concerts and bands such as Hearbreaka GeeQ, Remj Michael Jackson) as well as a highly acclaimed “Cultural Village” featuring breathtaking artistic reconstructions of iconic sculptures, buildings and landscapes from across South East Asia.
Ticketed event. Free entry for everyone who born in the year of the Dog. Free carnival ride with every admission ticket purchase.
Lunar New Year @ SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego (Feb. 10-25)
San Diego Test Festival at Mira Mesa Community Park, San Diego (Feb. 16-18)
The San Diego Tet Festival is a one of a kind bonanza with free Entertainment, Lion Dancing, music, rides, and more! Home to Miss Vietnam, Golden Voice, and the Step Up Dance Competition, the San Diego Tet Festival is world reknown for its epic celebration. Ticketed event.
San Diego Chinese New Year Fair at Third Avenue and J Street, San Diego (Feb. 24-25)
This annual two-day fair is hosted by the San Diego Chinese Center and includes a children’s craft area where kids can make golden lanterns, visitors can shop for Chinese handicrafts, eat a large variety of Asian food and enjoy live entertainment ranging from acrobats to traditional Chinese music performances.
How do you celebrate Lunar New Year in Southern California? Did I miss any events? If so, please leave them in the comment section.