Chinese and Vietnamese New Year celebrations are popular in Seattle and surrounding cities, and they bring festive fun to the chilly, wet winter. The Seattle area is diverse, filled with cultures from around the world, but Asians make up nearly 15% of the city’s population. This influence is part of what makes Seattle such a unique city, but also why its Chinese and Vietnamese New Year celebrations are so worth checking out!
From the Tet Festival at Seattle Center to Tacoma’s unique Monkeyshines, here’s how Seattle, Tacoma and other Northwest cities ring in the Lunar New Year.
The biggest and best Lunar New Year event in the Seattle area is held in the Chinatown-International District at Hing Hay Park. One of the best parts of this event is that it includes a little bit from many Asian cultures — Chinese lion dances; dances from the Philippines, China and other countries; Taiko drumming from Japan; and even a bit of Bollywood dancing might be in the mix. Equally as diverse is the delicious range of foods available for tasting. Chinatown-International District restaurants usually open their doors for Lunar New Year and offer affordable tastes of some of their menu items. This is a free event.
When: February 9, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Tet Festival is a Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration held at Seattle Center. It’s under the umbrella of Festal, a series of international festivals that take place throughout the year. Tet Festival brings in cultural performances and activities galore — music and dance performances, food and drink, as well as crafts and vendor booths. This is another free event.
When: January 26-27
Yet another option for a Lunar New Year celebration is held at the Bellevue Collection. Like the other Lunar New Years in the area, expect music, dance, food, and activities. A big perk of this celebration is that much of it is held indoors. Learn a bit of Chinese calligraphy, make a greeting card, or join in a coloring session, all indoors. But there’s also a Chinese Lion and Dragon Parade because Chinese New Year doesn’t come in without a party! Admission is free.
When: February 9, 2019, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Tacoma’s Asia Pacific Cultural Center hosts the largest Lunar New Year party in the South Sound at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall. Expect more than 90 booths featuring plenty of food, family fun, games and live entertainment. Like Lunar New Year in Chinatown-International District, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center brings in a bit of all Asian cultures. In 2019, the celebration focuses on Hawaii, but there’s also entertainment from China and Japan, Thailand, Samoa, and more. Admission is free.
When: February 9, 2019, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Monkeyshines is not strictly a Lunar New Year celebration, but it takes place each year approximately on the same date. For this much-anticipated treasure hunt, a team of glassblowers create hundreds to thousands of hand-blown glass medallions and orbs. They and volunteers then hide these pieces of artwork all around the city of Tacoma in the wee hours of the morning. Tacoma residents (and increasingly people from outside of the city) then go hunting in an attempt to find some glass. If you find it, you keep it, but the rule is you can only take one per person.
When: There's no formal announcement for when glass is going out into the community. It mostly travels by word of mouth and the Monkeyshines Facebook page.
Seattle Art Museum hosts a free family Chinese Lunar New Year each February. Activities focus on the New Year's zodiac animal. In 2019, it will be the year of the pig. Expect live music, martial arts demonstrations, family-friendly tours of the galleries, and art activities for all ages. The event is free, but RSVP is requested, which you can do here.
When: February 2, 2019, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.