February 1st is the start of the Chinese New Year in 2022. Given Vancouver’s significant Chinese population, Chinese New Year is a major event in the city.
Note: Other countries celebrate the Lunar New Year too. Traditionally it’s celebrated for a full week in China. In some other countries that use the lunar calendar, like Korea, the celebrations last for three or so days. The Lunar New Year is celebrated by other Asian countries too including Cambodia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and others.
How to Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Vancouver
Below is a list of events that took place around the Lower Mainland to celebrate the Chinese New Year (and Lunar Year in general) in previous years. We also identify a couple that still happened in 2021, although in modified formats (e.g., Lunarfest Vancouver).
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021’s Year of the Ox celebrations were almost non-existent (except when celebrated with people from the same households in private homes and at restaurants). Hopefully in-person festivities can happen again in 2022.
Information in this article includes the following topics:
Chinese New Year in Vancouver
Below are events that normally happen in the City of Vancouver in the core of downtown and elsewhere within the city.
Events in Downtown Vancouver
Chinese New Year events in downtown Vancouver usually include Lunarfest, Chinese-themed films at FlyOver Canada, the Parade in Chinatown, the Temple Fair at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, festivities at Chinatown Plaza and celebrations at the International Village Mall.
Vancouver Lunarfest usually hosts Lunar New Year activities suitable for young children and their families in the plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. In years when there isn’t a pandemic, Lunar New Year celebrations also take place at Oakridge Centre.
As the mall is currently getting renovated, there were no events planned at Oakridge in 2021. Also, because of COVID-19, Lunarfest hosted a series of virtual events between February 11th and the 23rd.
There were also lantern-themed art displays for people to see outside the Vancouver Art Gallery from February 11th until the 23rd in 2021. There were also going to be lanterns at Jack Poole Plaza from February 11th until the 28th. Those dates were changed to February 18th until the 28th, however, and the location changed to English Bay.
Films at FlyOver Canada
FlyOver Canada is the multi-dimensional theatre at Canada Place. It normally shows Asian-themed films this time of year. Last year it was Soar Over Taiwan which featured Taiwan. A couple of years ago it was Flight of the Dragon which was a film about Mainland China.
(Note: As of the beginning of February, 2021, like all other theatres in the Lower Mainland, FlyOver Canada is closed until further notice. As a result, no films are showing during Chinese New Year this year.)
Chinese New Year Parade
The parade goes up Pender Street, turns at Gore Street and then returns along Keefer. If the weather is good the parade can attract tens of thousands of people.
This event is highly recommended – you’ll feel like you’re in Asia and it’s far cheaper than a flight to Beijing! (Note: There was no live parade in 2021. Hopefully it will be able to return in 2022.)
The following video shows a short scene from Vancouver’s Chinese New Year Parade from a past year. It’s of a Lion Dance group at the corner of Keefer Street and Columbia (not far from the Chinese Cultural Centre).
As you’ll see in the video, the parade attracts large crowds. It’s loud, colourful and entertaining!
To see a longer video showing more scenes of the event see our article about the Chinese New Year Parade.
New Years at the Chinese Garden
The Temple Fair is a one-day festival celebrating Chinese New Year at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden. In years when there isn’t a pandemic, it happens on the Sunday after Chinese New Year’s Day from about 10:00 am until 4:30 pm.
Activities at this event include live music and dance performances, Chinese food for sale, a lion dance and family-friendly activities. Admission is usually by donation.
(Note: As of early 2021 events aren’t allowed and the venue is actually closed. Hopefully the event can happen again in 2022.)
Festivities at Chinatown Plaza
Chinatown Plaza is a small shopping mall tucked away at 106 Keefer Street in Chinatown. On the afternoon of the parade the mall usually hosts live entertainment and lion dancing. (Note: This event was not able to happen in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The following short video shows a scene from the festivities at Chinatown Plaza. As you’ll see a good number of people visit the mall to enjoy the lion dancing and live entertainment. All the stores inside are also Asian-themed.
Celebrations at International Village Mall
International Village is the medium-sized mall at 88 West Pender Street. It gets lively with thousands of people wandering around, shopping, checking out all the Chinese New Year merchandise and enjoying the music and entertainment.
In years when the public festivities do take place, expect the mall to be insanely busy during the weekend of the Chinese New Year Parade. The usual celebrations were unable to take place in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were a few decorations but nothing as intricate as usual.
To give you an idea of what to expect at Chinatown’s largest shopping centre on the same weekend as the Chinese New Year Parade, check out the video below. It includes scenes from the Year of the Dog festivities (in 2018) as well as from the Year of the Pig (in 2019).
The video shows the interior of the International Village Mall at Chinese New Year. As you’ll see the place is full of decorations, people and vendor stalls. Live entertainment takes place all weekend long. The performances range from dances by cute little kids to singing and dancing by adults.
Events Elsewhere in the City of Vancouver
Other Chinese New Year events that usually take place within the City of Vancouver but outside the downtown core include the following:
- Lunar New Year at Wesbrook Village – free Chinese New Year celebrations at UBC at 3378 Wesbrook Mall include a Lion Dance blessing procession in the streets around the village. There are also free activities at the Wesbrook Community Centre. Over 1000 people attend most years and it’s a fairly good event. In 2020 it ran on Saturday, January 25th, from 2:00 until 4:00 pm at the Wesbrook Community Centre at 3335 Webber Lane. (This event did not happen in 2021.)
- Lunar New Year at the River District – River District Vancouver celebrated the Year of the Rat last year on Saturday, January 25th. The 2020 event ran from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm (with a short break in the middle) at two different (yet close-by) locations. This is a great event and includes lion dancing and complimentary refreshments. (This event did not happen in 2021 due to COVID-19.)
See further below for top Chinese New Year activities in Richmond (at least in years when COVID-19 isn’t a problem).
Chinese Restaurants in Vancouver
Vancouver has some great Chinese food restaurants, including the following which are some of the best:
- Bao Bei – at 163 Keefer in Chinatown is one of the better yet very affordable Chinese restaurants in the area and serves excellent food.
- Dynasty Seafood – an upscale award-winning Chinese restaurant famous for its dim sum located at 777 West Broadway. Open for lunch and dinner every day, except for statutory holidays. The place offers free parking – just let their staff know your stall number.
- Kirin – an award-winning upscale Chinese restaurant located at 102-1172 Alberni Street in downtown Vancouver.
In 2021 the Family Day statutory holiday took place on Monday, February 15th (so just a few days after Chinese New Year’s Day). What’s more? Valentine’s Day landed right between the two as well! What an eventful weekend it would have been if not for the COVID-19 pandemic!
Chinese New Year Events in Richmond
With over 40% of its population being ethnic Chinese, Richmond is an obvious place to celebrate Chinese New Year. Below are some of the best places to do that (at least in years when there isn’t a coronavirus pandemic).
- Dharma Drum Center New Year’s Celebrations – crafts and games for children as well as tea and meditation for adults at 8240 No. 5 Road. It’s a small and fairly simple event on the weekend of Chinese New Year’s Day, but free. (To be confirmed for 2021, but almost definitely not happening.)
- International Buddhist Temple – the largest Buddhist temple in North America usually invites the public to a day of celebrations on New Year’s Eve (which in 2021 is on Thursday, February 11th). It’s amazing and free (although donations are greatly appreciated). (This event did not happen in 2021 because of the pandemic.)
- Lunar New Year at Lansdowne Centre – Chinese New Year celebrations take place most years at the Lansdowne shopping mall on the weekend of Chinese New Year. Activities include a Lion Dance and cultural performances. In 2020 the event took place on Sunday, January 26th, from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm (with the opening ceremony happening at around 12:30). (Cancelled for 2021.)
- Year of the Ox Celebrations at Aberdeen Mall – the shopping centre offers a number of special events over the course of a week and two weekends most years. In 2021, because of COVID-19, there were decorations at the mall, but not much else. In years when there isn’t a pandemic there is a Chinese New Year Flower & Gift Fair, a New Year’s Eve Countdown, a Golden Dragon and Lion Dance, and a Chinese New Year Cultural Showcase.
Best Chinese Restaurants in Richmond
What better way to celebrate the Chinese New Year than with dinner at one of the Lower Mainland’s top Chinese restaurants. Some of the best in Richmond including the following:
- Dinesty Chinese – a great casual restaurant famous for its dumplings, with locations at 1168-3779 Sexsmith Road and 160-8111 Ackroyd Road.
- Kirin – a great upscale Chinese restaurant at 200 Three West Centre, 7900 Westminster Highway (at No. 3 Road).
Other Chinese New Year Celebrations
Chinese New Year is celebrated at venues throughout the Lower Mainland. In addition to locations in Vancouver and Richmond, here are some other places to check out the festivities:
- Lunar New Year Celebrations – Central City Mall in Surrey had its lion dancing event last year on Saturday, January 25th, from 1:00 until 3:00 pm last year. (Cancelled for 2021.)
- Lonsdale Quay Lunar New Year – craft activities for children and a traditional Chinese Fan Dance usually happen at the public market in North Vancouver. For 2020, it was between 1:30 and 4:30 pm on February 1st (so a week after actual Chinese New Year’s Day). (Cancelled for 2021.)
Other articles that may be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver’s January and February Calendars of Events
- Vancouver Chinese New Year Parade
- Lower Mainland Festivals & Events
- Family Day in Vancouver
- Valentine’s Day in Vancouver