Chinese New Year—the Lunar New Year—isn't just a traditional festival for the Chinese; it's also the traditional New Year mark for Korean, Vietnamese, and many other East Asian cultures. Which means that, for multicultural Vancouver, Chinese New Year/the Lunar New Year is a huge celebration! In 2020, the Chinese New Year kicks off on January 25, and celebrates the Year of the Rat. Expect lion dances, parades, street fairs in Chinatown, and Lunar Fest, a favorite Chinese New Year cultural event in Vancouver.
Every year, Vancouver's Chinese New Year events culminate in a full day of New Year's celebrations in the heart of historic Chinatown, starting with the annual Vancouver Chinese New Year Parade. Organized by the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver since 1979, the parade has grown into a must-see event in Vancouver, attracting over 50,000 spectators and 3,000 performers, dancers, and musicians, including the largest assembly of lion dance teams in Canada.
After the parade, festivities continue at the Chinatown Spring Festival & Cultural Fair at Sun Yat-sen Plaza (50 East Pender Street) until 5 p.m., followed by a Chinese New Year Banquet at Floata Restaurant that includes live entertainment. For the best birds-eye views of the parade, go to the building on Keefer Street by Columbia that has a giant red-and-yellow Chinatown sign on it.
The exact date of Vancouver’s Chinese New Year’s parade in Chinatown is still TBD, but should be announced soon.
One of the biggest free Vancouver Chinese New Year events is held at Chinatown's International Village shopping centre (better known locally as Tinseltown), located at 88 West Pender Street. At Chinese New Year, over 150,000 visitors head to the International Village for three days of free festivities, including lots of live performances, traditional dance, and kids' activities.
Since its creation in 2009 as an arts and culture event for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Vancouver LunarFest has become a non-traditional favorite among Vancouver Chinese New Year events. Dedicated to showcasing contemporary expression in Asian arts and culture, LunarFest honors the Lunar New Year with exhibits, performances, and free kids activities, as well as a Dumpling Fest. It is held annually on the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza.
One of the major highlights, however, is the lantern decorations. Lanterns are one of the oldest traditions and symbols of Chinese New Year. And every year, LunarFest honors this by collaborating with Asian communities, artists, and schools around Canada to create a themed lantern festival. The theme for 2020 has yet to be announced.