February 12th is the start of the Chinese New Year in 2021. Given Vancouver’s significant Chinese population, Chinese New Year is a major event in the city.
How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Vancouver
Below is a list of events that took place around the Lower Mainland to celebrate the Chinese New Year last year. 2021 details for the Year of the Ox will hopefully be similar (although likely not due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
Information in this article includes the following topics:
Chinese New Year in Vancouver
- Lunar New Year at the River District – River District Vancouver celebrated the Year of the Rat on Saturday, January 25th. The 2020 event ran from 11 am until 3 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.
- Chinese New Year Parade – took place in Vancouver’s Chinatown on Sunday, Sunday, January 26th, 2020, from 11 am until around 1:30 pm. The parade goes up Pender Street, turns at Gore Street and then returns along Keefer. If the weather is good the Chinese New Year Parade can attract tens of thousands of people, so get there early and consider using public transit. This event is highly recommended – you’ll feel like you’re in Asia and it’s far cheaper than a flight to Beijing! Click Chinese New Year Parade for more information.
- Soar Over Taiwan – enjoy the all-new flight ride experience featuring Taiwan at FlyOver Canada at Canada Place. The film showed from January 16th until February 16th in 2020.
- Chinese New Year at International Village – this normally fairly quiet downtown Chinatown mall at 88 West Pender Street gets lively with thousands of people wandering around, shopping, checking out all the Chinese New Year merchandise and enjoying the music and entertainment. It also has a good food court if you’re looking for a cheap and convenient place to eat. Expect it to be busy during the weekend of the Chinese New Year Parade.
- Chinatown Plaza – it’s a small Asian-themed shopping mall tucked away at 106 Keefer Street in Chinatown. On the afternoon of the Chinese New Year Parade it usually hosts live entertainment and lion dancing.
- The Year of the Rat (or Ox) Temple Fair – a one-day festival celebrating the Chinese New Year at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver’s Chinatown at 578 Carrall Street on the Sunday after Chinese New Year from about 10:00 am until 4:30 pm. Activities include live music and dance performances, Chinese food for sale, a lion dance and family-friendly activities. Admission is by donation. In 2021 it will be the Year of the Ox Temple Fair.
- Vancouver Lunarfest – activities suitable for young children and their families happen in the plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Nice things about this event are that it’s under shelter and free. Lunar New Year celebrations also take place at Oakridge Centre. (They happened at the mall on January 25th and 26th in 2020. As the mall is currently getting renovated, there are no events planned at Oakridge in 2021).
- 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 and 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 until 4 pm at the Wesbrook Community Centre at 3335 Webber Lane.
See further below for top Chinese New Year activities in Richmond.
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. 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 takes place on Monday, February 15th (so just a few days after Chinese New Year’s Day). What’s more? Valentine’s Day lands right between the two this year! What an eventful weekend it’s going to be (unless everyone has to stay home because of 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 the Chinese New Year. Below are some of the best places to do that.
- 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 in Richmond. It’s a small and fairly simple event on the weekend of Chinese New Year’s Day, but free. In 2020 it took place from 1 until 3 pm on both January 25th and 26th.
- International Buddhist Temple – the largest Buddhist temple in North America, located at 9160 Steveston Highway, invites the public to a day of celebrations on New Year’s Eve, which in 2021 is on Thursday, February 11th. It’s a late night event, but quite amazing and free (although donations are greatly appreciated).
- Lunar New Year at Lansdowne Centre – Chinese New Year celebrations take place 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 am until 5 pm (with the opening ceremony happening at around 12:30).
- Year of the Rat Celebrations at Aberdeen Mall – the shopping centre offered a number of special events between January 18th and January 26th, 2020, including the following:
- Chinese New Year Flower & Gift Fair – flowers and gifts to admire and buy from January 18th until January 26th.
- New Year’s Eve Countdown – countdown night to the Year of the Rat took place on Friday, January 24th, from 8:30 pm until midnight at the mall’s Central Atrium.
- Golden Dragon and Lion Dance – the traditional ceremony went from store to store offering New Year’s blessings on Saturday, January 25th.
- Chinese New Year Cultural Showcase – performances took place in the mall’s Central Atrium on the weekend of January 25th to 26th on both the Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
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 on Saturday, January 25th, from 1 until 3 pm.
- Lonsdale Quay Lunar New Year – craft activities for children and a traditional Chinese Fan Dance usually happen one day 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).
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