11 places to enjoy Lunar New Year in Metro Vancouver

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      The Year of the Rooster is almost upon us.

      According to the folks who put on the annual LunarFest celebration (see below), this animal is a dreamer with the confidence to overcome obstacles. And he "unerringly finds his way atop the barn promptly at sunrise to announce the start of each new day".

      There are many ways to celebrate the rooster's arrival in the Lower Mainland, including by going out for a great meal.

      Below, we’ve compiled a list of 11 activities taking place across the Lower Mainland that offer other ways to bring in the Lunar New Year.

      VSO Lunar New Year with Avan Yu

      (Orpheum Theatre, February 1)

      The Vancouver-raised internationally renowned pianist will host the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s Lunar New Year celebration with a group of outstanding musicians.

      Violinist Lucy Wang (a VSO School of Music Concerto Competition winner), percussionist Nestor Wu, pianists Stephanie Chung and Ho Jin Choi, violinists Nicholas Wright and Jason Ho, violist Andrew Brown, timpanist JungEun Rhee, and cellist Ariel Barnes are among them.

      To add an eastern touch, UBC School of Music faculty members Karen Wong and Zhongxi Wu will play the sheng and suona, respectively. The Vancouver Zion Mission Choir and several vocal soloists are also scheduled to perform. Although it’s being presented by the VSO, the orchestra is not part of the lineup.


      LunarFest features a rooster-themed exhibition at Oakridge Centre, as well as a variety of arts and entertainment at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza.
      Tammy Kwan


      (Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza, January 27 to 29; Oakridge Centre until February 5)

      This free event is definitely one of Vancouver's must-see Lunar New Year celebrations, thanks to the care and attention paid by the organizer, the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association.

      To celebrate the Year of the Rooster, LunarFest is presenting the Bird-Walkers. They will dazzle the young and old by marching around on Chinese stilts made of lightweight aluminum. They'll even dance and make sudden turns from heights that might make some of us dizzy during six shows at Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza.

      There is also fortune telling, a kids' fest, and a pottery workshop at that location. Meanwhile at CBC Studio 700, Juno-nominated children's performer Ginalina will join another Juno nominee, composer-drummer Michael Bruyer, for the Alligator Stew show at 3 p.m. on the 28th and 29th. And at Oakridge Centre, there's an impressive art display created by postsecondary students in Taiwan.


      Pacific Centre

      (701 West Georgia Street, February 3)

      Lunar New Year fashion vignettes will be on display throughout the mall. In addition, there will be a lion dance and an eye-dotting ceremony starting at 3:30 p.m.


      Richmond Centre 

      (6551 No. 3 Road, Richmond; February 5)

      Check out huge, eye-catching lantern displays dropping down from the ceiling, traditional lion dances, and an eye-dotting ceremony. The god of fortune will also be there handing out lucky red pockets with chocolate coins. The fun takes place starting at 2 p.m. in the main galleria.


      Last year, NDP MLAs Spencer Chandra Herbert and Bruce Ralston were two of many legislators who walked in the Chinatown parade.
      Charlie Smith

      Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade

      (Chinatown, January 29)

      Starting at 11 a.m. at the Chinatown Millennium Gate, the 44th annual Chinese New Year parade runs east along Pender Street to Gore Street before turning south to Keefer Street and down the hill to end at Abbott Street. Every year, hordes of politicians join the festivities, handing out lucky red packets to people along the route.

      It’s expected that more than 100,000 Vancouverites will line the street to hear marching bands and see lots of lion dancers. Organized by several groups with ties to Chinatown, it’s a great way to experience multicultural Vancouver. You can also learn about different provinces of China, which each have their own expats marching together in the parade.


      Lonsdale Quay

      (123 Carrie Cates Court, January 28)

      Chinese New Year celebrations at Lonsdale Quay get cooking at 1 p.m. with a demonstration on how to prepare dumplings, a traditional food symbolizing longevity and wealth. It will be conducted by Renee Chan of True Nosh, a company that produces food products for those who want to cut their sugar consumption. A lion dance follows after the lion’s eye is dotted as a blessing ceremony. A “god of fortune” will be handing out lucky red envelopes.


      Shen Yun revives classical stories from ancient China.

      Shen Yun

      (Queen Elizabeth Theatre, January 29 to 31)

      Technically, this is not a Lunar New Year event, but this graceful Chinese dance show revives legends and classical stories from the past 5,000 years in China, alongside some spectacular acrobatics and gorgeous costumes.

      Shen Yun was launched in New York in 2006 by followers of Falun Dafa, a Chinese spiritual practice that includes meditation and qigong (body postures, movements, and breathing exercises to achieve better health).

      The orchestra combines western strings, percussion, and woodwinds with Chinese instruments, all in front of a digitally animated backdrop. Shen Yun integrates history with artistic expression.


      Aberdeen Centre

      (4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond; January 27 and 28)

      The annual Chinese New Year flower and gift fair at Aberdeen Centre in Richmond features booths offering Chinese New Year decorations, snacks, fresh flowers, and plants, as well as toys and other presents. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A countdown to Chinese New Year starts at 8:30 p.m. on the 27th. Spectators will be treated to a golden dragon and lion dance on January 28 in the mall’s outdoor courtyard, starting at 11 a.m.


      Crystal Mall

      (4500 Kingsway, Burnaby; January 29)

      Starting at noon, the mall will host a number of activities, including a lion dance that features a performance called “picking the green”. It’s the climax of the lion dance, wherein the animal eats the vegetable leaves (often a head of lettuce)—tied to a red packet containing money—that are hung above the doors of shops. It’s a symbolic blessing by the lion, signifying abundance in the coming year. Events also include prize draws and games. There are also free Chinese calligraphy greetings.


      The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden will attract big crowds for Lunar New Year.
      Andrew Chin

      Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

      (578 Carrall Street, to February 24)

      The first full exhibit at Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden puts family at the centre of the Chinese New Year celebration. Dubbed Coming Home: Traditions of Chinese New Year, the show presents interactive and educational displays about cultural practices that have endured through the ages. The garden also hosts its Year of the Rooster Temple Fair on January 29, with arts and crafts, tai chi, traditional music, and a lion dance.


      Dharma Drum Vancouver Center

      (8240 No. 5 Road, Richmond, January 28 and 29)

      There will be drumming, lion dances, craft making, performances of Chinese instruments, and traditional songs at this Chan Buddhist centre and instructional facility. Visitors can also participate in an ancient tea ceremony. Activities start at 1:30 p.m.