The Chinese New Year is a riot of color, sound, and fascinating cultural events — and in L.A., we’re spoiled for celebration choices. Ring in the Year of the Ram with dragons and lions at these amazing, family-friendly events.
Lions and Dragons and Rams, Oh My
Nothing kicks off the Chinese New Year in L.A. better than The Golden Dragon Parade. On Saturday, February 21 at 1 p.m., join the throngs gathered to witness the historic annual event that has been celebrated in Chinatown for more than 100 years. The kids love watching the beautiful floats and rousing marching bands. Nothing comes close to the awe on your kids’ faces, however, as when they see the real highlight: The massive, colorful dragons and lions zig-zagging their way down Broadway. Manned by dozens of puppeteers and dancers, the sequined lions and serpentine dragons dance and strut as you cheer them on.
Keep the Celebration Going
After the parade, head to the New Year Festival at the Chinatown Central and West Plazas, where you’ll be wowed by an afternoon of live performances. Take care that the kids don’t get over-excited and run off as you watch acrobats flip and fly across the stage. Show off your best moves, getting down with live pop-rock artists like Green Gerry and headliner Lili Haydn as they perform all day on the music stage. No celebration would be complete without food, so grab a mouthwatering bite at one of the gourmet food trucks, like the uber-popular Kogi Truck, where you can sample the classic spicy pork tacos topped with tangy slaw. Or try one of their specials, like the Pacman burger – fully loaded with beef, pork, and chicken, and dripping with salsa.
Go Wild for the New Year
Celebrate the Lunar New Year by going wild at ZOOdiac at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden. Among the elephants, apes, and giraffes, you find a new species: dragons — or at least, sparkly dragon puppets. Head to the Treetops Terrace, where the dragon dance parades will take place throughout the day, along with tons of other New-Year-themed activities. You can catch kung fu demonstrations while your kids monkey around, trying to show off moves of their own. Don’t miss learning more about rams, the animal of the hour: The zoo hosts special viewings and feedings of animals in the ram family, like the bighorn sheep and the ibex. As you explore the rest of the zoo, take the scavenger hunt challenge to find all the animals that match with zodiac signs. Winner gets to pick the food truck you’ll grab lunch from at the end.
Celebrate Your Prosperity
Nothing like a trip to the mall for a symphony and some stilt-walking. Take the family to the sun-soaked Santa Monica Place Mall, where you cash in your good fortune for some designer duds and have plenty of family fun at the same time. When you’re all shopped out, head down to the Central Plaza and catch the live performances scheduled daily Feb. 20 through the 22. The music aficionados in your family will love bopping and swaying to the live music, featuring traditional Chinese songs and instruments. For youngsters who like a little more action, they’ll be entranced by the stilt walkers as they bend down to pass out high-fives.