Worldwide icon-chevron-right The most beautiful Lunar New Year celebrations in the world
Thean Hou Temple
Photograph: Fazli Zainordin

The most beautiful Lunar New Year celebrations in the world

Here’s what Chinese New Year looks like in cities around the world, from Asia to Europe and the USA

By Rebecca Zhuang
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Whether you know the Lunar New Year as Tet, Seollal, or Chinese New Year, the beginning of the lunar calendar is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts for everyone. To celebrate the start of the Year of the Ox, we’ve picked the most gorgeous of the Lunar New Year celebrations that normally take place around the world – from extravagant street parades and raucous day parties that carry into the night to illuminated, life-sized lanterns and stunning pyrotechnic displays.

Of course, Lunar New Year festivities won’t look the same this year. But here’s a reminder of the most spectacular celebrations, from Asia to North America and beyond, to say goodbye to the Year of the Rat – and all of the evil spirits that came with it.

The world’s most beautiful Chinese New Year celebrations

Singapore Chingay
Singapore Chingay
Photograph: Supplied

Singapore’s Chingay

In a normal year, Singapore hosts a kaleidoscopic street parade called Chingay, which translates as ‘the art of costume and masquerade’. Basically, it’s a massive street parade fitted out with dazzling floats, colourful costumes, live performances, intricate props, and pyrotechnics. ‘Wow’ is the only fitting response.

See our full guide to Chinese New Year in Singapore.

Yuyuan Lantern Festival, Shanghai
Yuyuan Lantern Festival, Shanghai
Photograph: zaccherini/Shutterstock.com

Shanghai’s Yuyuan Lantern Festival

Every year Yuyuan Gardens draws millions of visitors to Shanghai for its world-class lantern display. The luminous creations come in all different shapes, sizes, and colours, depicting everything from fish (representing wealth and prosperity) to dragons (to represent good luck) – and, of course, rats. There’s even a series of lanterns scrawled with riddles and puns for those wanting to flex their brain muscles in front of friends and family.

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New York CNY
New York CNY
Photograph: Joe Buglewicz

New York’s Firecracker Ceremony and Festival

What do 600,000 firecrackers crackling in the sky sound like? Exactly like the banishment of an entire city’s worth of evil spirits (and boy, does NYC have a few). Traditionally, herds of New Yorkers head to Sara D. Roosevelt Park every year for the firecracker release in order to ward off the bad omens of the past year. Those who still have their eardrums in check should join the lion dancing and parades to carry them into the streets of Chinatown afterwards.

See our full guide to Lunar New Year in New York.

Hong Kong Shopping Mall Installation
Hong Kong Shopping Mall Installation
Photograph: Supplied

Hong Kong's shopping mall displays

To prepare for the new year, Hong Kong’s shopping malls do a complete cuteness overhaul and deck themselves out in animal paraphernalia and pretty colours. From Langham Place to Tuen Mun Town Plaza, these multi-level shopping complexes are home to a world of Instagram opportunities every year.

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Korea Seollal
Korea Seollal
Photograph: Supplied

Seoul’s Fortune Party

During Lunar New Year (or Seollal, as Koreans call it), the bustling city of Seoul becomes relatively quiet as people head back home to celebrate with their families. But every year, Seoul’s Korean Folk Village holds a Fortune Party where visitors can play folk games and check out traditional music and art. Traditions include daljiptaeugi (ritual burning to bring upon good harvest and peace), horseback martial arts and the sharing of tteokguk: traditional rice cake soup.

Los Angeles Golden Dragon Parade
Los Angeles Golden Dragon Parade
Photograph: Betto Rodrigues/Shutterstock

LA’s Golden Dragon Parade

Los Angeles’s historic Golden Dragon Parade, which brings  floats, marching bands, costumes and crowds to North Broadway, is 121 years old – making it even older than the Hollywood sign. This year’s parade is cancelled IRL, but it’s being replaced by an online celebration of culture, history, and tradition streamed via Facebook Live.

See our full guide to Chinese New Year in Los Angeles.

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Tet (Lunar New Year) fireworks over Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
Tet (Lunar New Year) fireworks over Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake fireworks

Hanoi welcomes Tet (the Vietnamese word for Lunar New Year) with firework shows across the nation’s capital. They span from Lac Long Quan Flower Garden to Van Quan Lake, but the biggest and brightest of these pyrotechnic displays is always at the central Hoan Kiem Lake. Kicking off at midnight, the fifteen-minute light show is preceded by music and art performances, as the festivities prepare revellers to bid farewell to the old year and all its bad luck.

Manchester Lunar New Year
Manchester Lunar New Year
Photograph: Phil Tragen

Manchester’s Chinese New Year parade

Manchester is home to one of the UK’s largest and oldest Chinese communities, so it seems only fitting that its celebrations are normally some of the best in Europe. Last year St Ann’s Square in the city centre was home to a 50-foot golden dragon sculpture, while the city’s famous 175-foot dragon  paraded down the city’s streets towards Chinatown. In a typical year you might also see traditional lion and ribbon dances, Chinese Opera performers, giant buddha dolls and a Chinese Scout parade.

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Vancouver CNY 2018
Vancouver CNY 2018
Photograph: Supplied

Vancouver’s Spring Festival Parade

The Spring Festival Parade marks Lunar New Year with a celebration of Vancouver’s multiculturalism, starring a 3,000 large procession including reps from the Canadian city’s many communities. The 48-year-old parade always draws huge crowds as it makes its way from Millennium Gate towards Chinatown, with traditional lion dances, cultural dance troupes and martial arts performances.

Thean Hou Temple
Thean Hou Temple
Photograph: Fazli Zainordin

Kuala Lumpur’s Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou Temple is one of Malaysia’s largest and oldest temples. Adorned in hundreds of glowing red lanterns, this majestic six-tiered temple draws in thousands of festivalgoers annually to celebrate the new year, with themed displays and wishes of abundant wealth, food and dignity for the year ahead.

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Tokyo Chinese New Year Celebrations
Tokyo Chinese New Year Celebrations
Photograph: Supplied

Tokyo’s Chinese Spring Festival

Technically a whole other city, Yokohama in Greater Tokyo is chaotic even without a global celebration like Lunar New Year. Throw that in the mix and you’ve got a riotous couple of weeks in Japan’s biggest Chinatown. The district hosts activities and installations including a massive countdown party, a parade of performers in historic costumes and a traditional Cai Qing Lion Dance, where red envelopes called hongbao are fed to the lion to bring good luck in the coming year.

Chicago Dragon
Chicago Dragon
Photograph: Supplied

Chicago’s Lunar New Year Parade

Taking place slap bang in the middle of Chicago’s Chinatown,  the annual Lunar New Year parade usually carries marchers on a half-mile route to the finish line on Cermak Road. Herd of spectators follow a trail of marching bands, colourful floats and traditional lion dances as they parade throughout the precinct to ring in the new year.

See our full guide to Chinese New Year in Chicago.

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London Chinese New Year
London Chinese New Year
Photograph: Lalitphat Phunchuang

London’s Trafalgar Square celebrations

Usually, the Lunar New Year celebrations in London are among the biggest outside of Asia. A day-long celebration runs throughout the West End and Chinatown before ending at the city’s most recognisable public space: Trafalgar Square. The festivities kick off with a ceremonial painting of dots on to the lion costume’s face to symbolise life-giving. Then there’s a full day of traditional dragon and flying lion dances, Chinese dance and music shows, martial arts displays and, of course, a mouthwatering selection of street food. We’re already excited for next year.

See our full guide to Chinese New Year in London.

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