In 2023 the start of the Lunar New Year is on Sunday, January 22nd.
This article contains information about Lunar New Year in general as well as a list of things to do and see during the holiday season in the Lower Mainland.
RABBITS AND CELEBRATIONS AT INTERNATIONAL VILLAGE
On the Lunar New Year weekend of January 21st & 22nd, International Village Mall in Chinatown is full of vendor stalls, art exhibits and other things to see, including dozens of live rabbits! For details about the event see the International Village Mall‘s website.
Lunar New Year Celebrations in the Lower Mainland
A number of East-Asian cultures celebrate Lunar New Year including the Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese. It’s the same in Singapore, Brunei, Taiwan and Tibet, and other places with large Chinese populations like Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. It’s also a big occasion in Canada, especially in cities like Vancouver and Richmond.
The following events celebrating the Lunar New Year take place in and around Vancouver most years:
- Lunarfest Vancouver – a series of events and activities happen between January 20th and February 20th in 2023. This year it includes free festival activities in the north plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on the weekend of January 21st and 22nd. There is also a performance at the Orpheum on January 24th.
- The Lantern City – affiliated with Lunarfest Vancouver, there are lantern art displays outside the Vancouver Art Gallery (Jan. 20th to Feb. 7th), Granville Island (Jan. 20th to Feb. 20th) and Jack Poole Plaza (Jan. 20th to Feb. 15th). There might also be displays in Vancouver’s West End at the corner of Robson Street and Cardero.
- Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade – this is one of the city’s largest and most impressive parades. It takes place on January 22nd in 2023.
- Chinese New Year at International Village – the mall in Chinatown is full of interesting things to see and do on January 21st and 22nd in 2023.
Other Lunar New Year Events
Lunar New Year celebrations also usually take place at the International Buddhist Temple and Thrangu Monastery in Richmond, although not in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Festivities also happen at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
In addition to the above, celebratory activities usually also take place at a number of Lower Mainland shopping centres. Most notably, these include International Village in Vancouver’s Chinatown and both Aberdeen Mall and Lansdowne Centre in Richmond. There is also usually lion dancing at other malls too, and in neighbourhoods like the River District.
WALKING TOURS IN VANCOUVER’S CHINATOWN
An exceptional way to learn about the Lunar New Year and Chinese-Canadian history in Vancouver is to join a walking tour with Historical Chinatown Tours. Join one if you can. They are very interesting, informative and fun.
About Lunar New Year
The Lunar New Year is a national holiday in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It’s not a national holiday in countries like the Philippines, Japan or Canada, but it’s still a time of festivities for many people. As much as 25% of the planet’s population celebrates Lunar New Year in some way.
Lunar New Year in China and Elsewhere
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, or the Water Rabbit actually. It’s the same in a number of other countries, including Korea. For Vietnam, however, where the holiday is called “Tet”, 2023 is the Year of the Cat. In 2024, starting on February 10th, it’s the Year of the Dragon for the Vietnamese. In that year the zodiac sign is the same in Vietnam as most other cultures with the lunar calendar.
With South Korea, the holiday is called Seollal and it takes place on the same date as in China. In Tibet, however, the Lunar New Year sometimes takes place on the same date as elsewhere, but not always. That’s in part due to time differences.
According to the Chinese tradition, there are twelve years in the lunar calendar with each represented by a different animal. They are the rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox and tiger. People born in the different years are believed to have similar personality traits and characteristics. Rabbits, for example, tend to be gentle, elegant, quiet, cautious, sensitive and patient.
Although it happens in the winter for most parts of China (other than in the tropical south coast), Lunar New Year is celebrated as the “Spring Festival” in China. This is why the parade in Vancouver is the Chinatown Spring Festival Parade.
The lunar calendar revolves around the phases of the moon, which is why the date changes from year to year. There are about 354 days in the lunar year which is the length of time it takes for the moon to travel around earth twelve full times.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Lunarfest Vancouver
- Chinese New Year in Vancouver
- Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade
- Vancouver’s Chinatown
- Historical Chinatown Tours
- Vancouver Taiwanese Festivals
- Vancouver’s ExplorASIAN Festival
To learn about Canada’s oldest Chinatown, which is in BC’s capital city, see the website VictoriasBestPlaces.com.