Best of the fests

The fortnight-long Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations begin on Thursday 3; ring in the Year of the Rabbit at these events.

Chinese New Year's Day Firecracker Ceremony and 12th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade

Chinese New Year's Day Firecracker Ceremony and 12th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Chinese New Year's Day Firecracker Ceremony & 12th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade
The ten-year-old Better Chinatown Society sponsors these New Year's events: During the Firecracker Ceremony, hundreds of thousands of the sparkly explosives will be set off as a means for warding off bad spirits for the year. (The display happens at noon, while a cultural festival—with dance performances, Chinese food and more—takes over Sara D. Roosevelt Park.) Head back to the 'hood on Sunday 6 for the parade, during which hundreds of costumed marchers and performers (along with dragon and lion puppets) will wind their way through the streets of Chinatown and Little Italy. Snag a spot at Forsyth and Hester Streets for the best view. Firecracker Ceremony: Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie St at Grand St; Thu 3 11am--3:30pm; free. * Parade: Begins at Canal and Mott Sts (917-660-2402, Sun 6 1--3pm; free.

Historic Chinatown: Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit walking tour
Learn about the history of Chinatown on Big Onion's special New Year tour, which will visit locations that link the community's past to its present. (One stop, the former 32 Mott Street General Store, was operated by the same family for 113 years; they were evicted by the building's management in 2003). Plus, a surprise stop related to the Lunar New Year is in the works. Meet at the southeast corner of Grand and Chrystie Sts (888-606-9255, Fri 4 at 1pm; $15, seniors and students $12.

Preparing for the New Year walking tour
Appropriately, docents from the Museum of Chinese in America lead this holiday-themed walking tour, which stops at various Chinatown bakeries and flower shops displaying festive wares. Along the way, you'll get the scoop on different New Year traditions, such as eating tangerines, wearing red, and graciously accepting big, fat envelopes full of cash from your elders. Meet at the Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre St between Grand and Howard Sts (212-619-4785, Sat 5 1--2:30pm; $18, seniors and students $15, members $8, free for children under 5. Reservations required.

Lunar New Year Festival
After the lion dance snakes up the Met's front steps and through the Great Hall, the party continues with a lesson on Chinese tea ceremonies. Finish the day at a performance of the Peking Opera's Little Red Riding Hood (7pm), a retelling of the familiar fable featuring martial arts, live music and Mandarin singing. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710, Sat 5 11am--4pm. Free with museum admission; suggested donation $20, seniors $15, students $10, members and children under 12 free.

Lion Dance
This year may be devoted to bunnies, but no Lunar New Year celebration is complete without seeing a few lions. Students from martial arts school New York Hung Ga will man two beasts made of bamboo, papier-mch and colorful polyester; they'll perform a traditional lion dance outside of the China Institute. China Institute, 125 E 65th St between Park and Lexington Aves (212-744-8181, Sun 6 11am--noon; free.

Flushing Lunar New Year Parade
This annual jaunt travels through Queens' Chinatown (which rivals Manhattan's in population), and is actually three years older than the similar event in that other borough. Check out traditional Chinese performances, like the dragon dance, with many performers in a long dragon costume mimicking the mythical creature's movements. Parade begins at Union St and 37th Ave, ends at Main St and 39th Ave, Flushing, Queens (718-353-2320). Feb 12 11am--1pm; free.

Chinese New Year Celebration
Make the Year of the Rabbit your healthiest ever by signing up for gratis acupuncture treatments and Qi Gong workshops (the practice is thought boost the immune system and improve circulation). Once you're feeling healthy and energized, learn how to stay that way: Acupuncturist Magnolia Goh will offer tips inspired by Eastern medicine for remaining hale and hardy—such as drinking raw ginger tea to prevent the flu, and reading your tongue to diagnose illness. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, 915 Broadway between 20th and 21st Sts, fifth floor (212-982-3456, Feb 12 noon--3pm; free with required reservation.

Lunar New Year Dance Sampler
This year's showcase features performances from five companies, who will present dances from Korea, India, Thailand, Taiwan and China. After the recital, visit the Hall's current gallery exhibits: "Within the Emperor's Garden," which displays a red sandalwood model of the Forbidden City's Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion in Beijing, and "Culture Blending in Ceramic Arts," which shows the work of American artists inspired by China's rich ceramics history. Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd between Leavitt St and Linden Pl, Flushing, Queens (718-463-7700, Feb 12 1--2pm. Performances free; gallery suggested donation $5, members free.

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