The Lunar New Year is upon us, and celebrations ranging from parades in Chinatown near Gallery Place and hip-hop dance troupes are bringing the festivities to the D.C. region.
Here’s a guide of local events and where to find them:
The REACH Winter Lanterns (The Kennedy Center)
The recently added adjunct venue at the Kennedy Center is hosting the D.C. debut of approximately 100 winter lanterns crafted by Chinese artisans made up of 10,000 colored LED lights on display until Feb 2.
Installations include the Chinese Four Symbols — the Azure Dragon, the Vermilion Bird, the White Tiger and the Black Tortoise — and the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac signs. At Family Day on Saturday, there will be performances, artisan demonstrations and food trucks.
From Jan. 30-Feb. 2, the exhibit will feature short performances and activities by artists from Korea including tattoo stickers, Korean mask painting and kite-flying. Here’s a full list:
- Feelak Company Performance: Drum show & Spinning dishes
- Dress up in Hanbok (Korean traditional costume)
- Create your name tags in Korean Calligraphy
- Coloring Traditional Korean Fans
- Tattoo Stickers
- Hangeul Calligraphy Performance: local artist Myoungwon demonstrates Korean calligraphy on large scale paper
- Mural Painting: join artist Julia Chon to paint and complete a paper mural artwork installation together
- Kite-flying: A South Korean kite-flying master will demonstrate traditional Korean kites and teach attendees how to fly them
- Korean Mask Painting
Chinese New Year Parade (6th & Eye St NW — Crimson DC)
The Chinese Zodiac is composed of 12 animals that rotate every year, each one brings its own special qualities. Organizers anticipate this year — the Year of the Rat — will be the “biggest and most diverse” parade ever to ring in the New Year in D.C.
The event will feature traditional lion and dragon dances, Kung Fu demonstrations, firecrackers, live music, marching bands, beauty pageant winners and special guests, including Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The parade starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday and is free to the public.
National Museum of Asian Art Lunar New Year Celebration (Freer, Sackler, and Ripley Center)
This event goes beyond the Lunar New Year’s Chinese origins and celebrates the richness of celebrations across Korea and Mongolia as well. Live magic, musical performances and food for sale will be on display at the museum’s 6th annual celebration on Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Two special exhibitions — Resound: Ancient Bells of China and Sacred Dedication and A Korean Buddhist Masterpiece— will also be on display, as well as the center’s permanent collection of Asian art.
Smithsonian Chinese New Year Family Celebration (Smithsonian American Art Museum)
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Chinese Embassy are hosting a variety of performances and activities: Chinese ribbon dancing, acrobatic yo-yo performances and an interactive magic show from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in its Kogod Courtyard.
Celebrate the Year of the Rat with a variety of arts and crafts demonstrations including calligraphy, shadow puppets and dough figurines, Chinese paper cuts and good luck envelopes and finger and wood printing. Dance, magic and acrobatic showcases offer idling parents something they can enjoy, as well.
13th Annual Chinese New Year Festival (Luther Jackson Middle School — 3020 Gallows Rd., Falls Church)
The event’s bio states, “We hope that our children will keep in their memory the cultural roots and traditions of the Chinese New Year when they grow up.”
This is the second time the Asian Community Service Center (ACSC) will celebrate the Year of the Rat — the first in 2008 — and with it comes a new chance “to experience the unique aspects of Chinese culture and traditions of five thousand years.” The celebration includes dragon and lion dances, Asian foods, a New Year parade, culture exhibition, craft show, language, health and business booths and children’s activities, among other attractions.
Lunar New Year Celebration (Pentagon City)
Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is inviting shoppers from 12 p.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday to its New Year celebration featuring live entertainment, hands-on activities, lion and dragon dances, two fashion shows showcasing traditional Chinese clothing, musical performances and more.
Meet Disney’s Mulan (Westfield Wheaton — Upper-Level Center Court)
The beloved Chinese warrior princess is coming to Wheaton Mall Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. She’ll be signing autographs and taking pictures (with props). Kids and their parents are encouraged to come dressed in their favorite princess or traditional Chinese costume, accessories included.
Lunar New Year Celebration (Rockville High School — 2100 Baltimore Rd., Rockville)
The City of Rockville hosts a free event for the New Year including interactive activities, cultural displays and performances from numerous dance and theater troupes. As one of our reporters notes, one of the groups will perform a hip-hop dance routine set to a medley of Asian pop music.
Sean Pang, an English teacher at Rockville High School and advisor to the school’s Asian American Club, said it’s all about keeping the kids inspired and the culture alive (even if it’s not his favorite music).
The event is Saturday, Feb. 1 from 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m.