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15th annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, Chinese New Year
Photograph: Filip Wolak

The best things to do for Lunar New Year (a.k.a. Chinese New Year)

Ring in the Year of the Rabbit with these fun and colorful cultural events in NYC

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
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Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year) is here to lift us up with new beginnings, beautiful art and delicious food. The celebration includes bursting firecrackers, lion dances and delicious cuisine, including at Chinatown's Chinese New Year Parade, one of the best events in February. Don't miss filling your belly with amazing cuisine from one of the best Chinese restaurants in NYC either!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Lunar New Year in NYC

Things to do for Lunar New Year

  • Things to do

See traditional lion dances and ribbon twirling in this event series hosted at The Shops at Hudson Yards in partnership with the New York Chinese Cultural Center. Performances will be held every Saturday from January 17 through February 6. A trail of decor, including lanterns, wreaths, and more will greet you inside the mall. 

If you spend $188 or more on the same day, anywhere inside The Shops & Restaurants, you'll score a complimentary gift of bamboo chopsticks in a silk sleeve at the Concierge Desk on Level 1.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is going all out for Lunar New Year with a month of free programming for all ages. 

The main event is MOCA Family Day on Saturday, January 21 featuring a lion dance performance, a noodle pulling demo, a candy making demo, storytime, a ribbon dance workshop, red envelope art and lots more. 

Events leading up to and following Family Day include a chance to decorate the museum, a virtual workshop offering tips to cook Old Beijing Fried Sauce Noodles, and a pop-up fashion exhibition. 

Check out the full schedule here. The event is currently sold out, but you can call to get on a waitlist. 

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  • Art
  • Photography

In This is Home, a Lunar New Year photo exhibition, three New York City-based photographers will tell a visual story of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities: how they live, work, love and, when needed, stand up for what they believe. See photographs by Janice Chung, Cindy Trinh and An Rong Xu documenting immigrant life, shopkeepers and the beauty of the ordinary. Their work will be on display from Saturday, January 21 through Sunday, February 26 at Flushing Town Hall Gallery in a free show.

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  • Things to do

More than 50 local businesses will join the party for Long Island City's monthlong Lunar New Year celebration. Through February 19, look for red envelope surprise giveaways, special menus, family-friendly activities and even zodiac dance movement workshops. Events will also inlcude film screenings, parties, a staycation deal and "Bubble Tea Bingo."

Here's the full calendar of events

 

  • Dance

A Queens tradition for more than a decade, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company returns to Kupferberg Center with a spectacular performance to welcome the coming of the Spring of 2023, the Year of the Water Rabbit. The performance on Sunday, February 5 combines traditional Chinese celebration with modern flair.

This year, to honor the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop, the Company will present a new Lion dance with hip-hop rhythm. The new work is a collaborative effort from Company’s Director of New and Contemporary Dance, PeiJu Chien-Pott, assisted by H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory’s Yvonne H. Chow, Lion Dance Master Henry Lee, and Hip-Hop legends Kwikstep and Rokafella.

The Company will also peform the festive "YungGe" (Harvest Song) from northern China, a beautiful and elegant "Peacock Dance" from the Southern Yunnan Province, a powerful martial art solo "Spear Dance" and the perennial favorite, the majestic "Dragon Dance." The Chinese Music Ensemble of New York will present two instrumental pieces, a Pipa Solo and an ensemble featuring Erhu (two string violin), Pipa (Lute) and Dizi (bamboo flute).

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  • Things to do

Sip specialty teas while learning from an expert about these delicious drinks. The Night at the Museum and Chinese Tea Experience on Thursday, February 9 features a guided tour of Museum of Chinese in America by Neil Wu-Gibbs, along with a tea presentation with Tea Drunk's Shunan Teng. 

Whether you're new to tea or a lifelong connoisseur, this program is bound to teach you something new — and tasty. 

Looking for some grub?

  • Restaurants

While Manhattan’s Chinese restaurants might be your first thought for dim sum, don’t sleep on Flushing or Sunset Park’s Chinatowns. Many spots order takeout and delivery, if that’s your thing, but we believe that dim sum is one of the few things worth putting on pants for.

Gather a crew to feast on a midday Chinese meal. Here are the best spots for dim sum that NYC has to offer.

 

  • Restaurants

New York has a long lineage of Chinese restaurants showcasing the culinary traditions of nearly every province in China, as well as the fusion fare created by immigrants in the United States.

Whether you're looking to sample fiery Szechuan fare or experience a classic weekend dim sum brunch, the city has got you covered. From white-clothed Midtown restaurants to hole-in-the-wall Chinatown restaurants, find the best Chinese restaurant NYC has to offer.

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  • Restaurants

No need to stick to one borough—the best dumplings in NYC can be eaten throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Head downtown to get your soup dumpling fix at one of the best Chinatown restaurants in the city. Exploring new neighborhoods? Take the train to Sunset Park for some of the best dim sum outside Hong Kong.

And if you're really on a budget, there are plenty of options for cheap dumplings along the way.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries

New York's Chinatown is packed with amazing dim sum restaurants, fun-loving karaoke bars and top-notch Chinese bakeries offering a dizzying array of pastries. Most are known for one exceptional item, however, whether thats a buttery egg tart, a fluffy sponge cake or a lotus-filled hopia. It doesnt get much sweeter than this.

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