In 2023 Vancouver celebrates the Lunar New Year with the 48th annual Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown. It’s an impressive event!
2021 was going to be the 48th year of the parade, but it got cancelled that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There wasn’t a parade in 2022 for the same reason, but there is in 2023.
The Year of the Rabbit begins on January 22nd in 2023. The parade normally takes place on the first Sunday after the start of the New Year. In 2023, that means the parade takes place on the 22nd. There are also other events happening on that day, the night before, and for the rest of the week in various places throughout the Lower Mainland.
See below for information about Vancouver’s Chinese New Year Parade, or click Lunar New Year Activities for a list of multiple ways to celebrate the event including the parade!
Chinese New Year’s Parade in Vancouver’s Chinatown
In years when it doesn’t get cancelled, a Vancouver cultural festivity that you don’t want to miss is Chinatown‘s New Year’s parade (unless of course you don’t like crowds).
There is no need to travel abroad to experience China – on this day you’ll find yourself surrounded by about a billion Chinese and other Vancouverites (assuming good weather). You’ll also see the occasional colourful lion or dragon, and numerous bands and people in costumes marching down the streets.
Th last year the parade happened was in 2022. That year there were about six dozen entries comprising over 3000 participants. At the parade in 2023 you can expect to see marching bands, Chinese lion dancing and entries by numerous community businesses and non-profit groups.
At Vancouver’s Chinese New Year Parade, sidewalks along the route are packed full of people, the sounds of fire crackers fill the air, and Chinatown is without a question the most exciting place in the city to be.
When and Where
Vancouver’s Chinese New Year’s parade happens in Chinatown from 11:00 am until about 1:30 pm. Get there early to find a place you can see the road, somewhere along Pender, Gore or Keefer near the entrance gate to Chinatown. Unless it’s raining and miserable, prepare yourself for the crowds – the throng of people is a cultural experience in itself!
In 2022 the Year of the Rabbit begins on Sunday, January 22nd. The parade happens on that same day. After the parade, from around 2:00 until 4:00 pm, lion dances happen take place throughout the neighbourhood.
TIP: Right in the heart of Chinatown is the International Village Mall. It’s an especially interesting place to visit on the weekend of the Lunar New Year. On the day of the parade and the day before, the mall is full of vendors selling artisan products and Chinese New Year-themed souvenirs. In 2023 there are also dozens of live rabbits on site in celebration of the Year of the Rabbit! Either before or after the parade, check it out!
Want to learn about Chinatown and its history? Want to see inside some of its heritage buildings? Then go for a walk with Historical Chinatown Tours. The lady who leads them is an expert on the area and gets exceptional reviews! The tours take place around Chinese New Year, but at other times of the year too!
New Year Parade Route
The parade goes down West Pender under the Chinatown Millennium Gate, up Gore Street, and then back up along Keefer Street. In total the route is about 1.3 kilometres in length and usually lasts for up to two and a half hours.
Click Parade Map to see the route.
Chinese New Year Parade Video
Below is a short video of the parade in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Filmed a few years ago, the video will give you an idea of what to expect on January 22nd in 2023.
The video starts and finishes with views from a parkade looking down at the corner of Carrall Street and Keefer. The second scene is of a lion dance going down the parade route along East Pender. The third scene is of parade participants marching west along Keefer Street.
Tips for Parade Viewing
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you maximize your Chinatown Parade experience the next time it takes place.
TIP #1: On Keefer Street by Columbia there is a giant building with a parkade and the words “CHINATOWN” written down the side on a red and yellow neon sign. If you want a good view, and want to be above and away from the crowds, this can be a great place to be. Look up from the street, and you can see people peering down and enjoying the parade from a comfortable and less congested distance.
TIP #2: Either before or after the parade, consider visiting International Village at 88 West Pender. This normally fairly quiet shopping mall completely comes alive during the Lunar New Year. Inside, in addition to thousands of people, you’ll find an assortment of performances and stalls selling all kinds of festive items (or at least that’s the case most years).
TIP #3: While in Chinatown, check out the festivities at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden at 578 Carrall Street. Running from around 11 am to 6 pm, the festivities there typically include dance performances, live music, a lion dance and other family-friendly cultural activities. Admission use to be by donation. In 2023, however, there is a set price. Expect the place to be busy!
Click Chinese New Year Events for other celebratory activities in Metro Vancouver.
To learn more about the parade see the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver‘s website.
Check out Vancouver’s February Calendar or click Festivals and Events for lists of other major Lower Mainland events.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Places for History and Culture
- Free January Events
- Free February Events
- Vancouver Restaurants
- Vancouver’s Chinatown