Lunarfest Vancouver is an annual festival that takes place around Chinese New Year each year and includes family-friendly activities and entertainment.
Note: The event is inclusive to all cultures and celebrates the Lunar New Year in general, so not specifically the Chinese New Year (although they take place at the same time).
2022 FESTIVAL DETAILS
All things going well with respect to COVID-19, the plan is for the festival to run from January 27th until February 21st in 2022.
There is a Lantern City exhibit in the North Plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery from January 27th until February 9th this year. The festival’s main LunarFest Celebrations take place at the same venue on the weekend of February 5th and 6th.
On Granville Island there is also a small Lantern City exhibit, at the Ocean Art Works Pavilion, from January 29th until February 21st.
In Vancouver’s West End, near the corner of Cardero and Robson Street, there is West End Wishes from January 30th until February 15th. There is also a special performance at the Orpheum on February 1st.
Lunarfest was different in 2021 because of COVID-19. No large in-person events happened this year. Instead, some activities took place online between February 11th and the 23rd. As part of the festival’s “Lantern City” element, lantern-style art was also on display at Jack Poole Place and in the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza from February 11th until the 28th.
In 2020 Lunarfest activities took place at the following places and times (and 2022 will likely be similar):
- Oakridge Centre (January 16 to February 10, 2020) – Lunarfest Visual Arts
- Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza (January 25 & 26, 2020) – LunarFest Celebrations
- Queen Elizabeth Theatre (January 25, 2020) – A Musical Banquet: A Feast of Sumptuous Classical Music
- Jack Poole Plaza (January 18 to February 9, 2020) – Coastal Lunar Lanterns (a visual arts display)
See below for details about each of these Lunarfest events.
For the event’s official website click Lunarfest Vancouver.
Lunarfest Dates & Locations
In 2020 Lunarfest events and activities took place from January 25 (which was New Year’s Day according to the lunar calendar) until February 10. In 2021 Lunarfest ran from February 11th to the 28th. Details are to be confirmed for 2022.
A couple of years ago Lunarfest-related activities took place at Oakridge Centre mall, in the plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, at Queen Elizabeth Theatre and at Jack Poole Plaza. In 2021, in addition to a few virtual events that people could enjoy online, there were lantern art displays again that year at both Jack Poole Plaza and outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Oakridge Centre, however, was closed for renovations.
In 2021 the Community Lanterns display was going to happen between February 11th and the 23rd in 2021 at Jack Poole Plaza. The dates were changed, however, as was the location. The new dates were from February 20th until March 7th and the new location was English Bay at 1800 Davie Street.
The Coastal Lunar Lanterns displays in the north plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery were available for people to admire between February 11th and the 23rd last year as originally planned.
Oakridge Centre Mall – Lunarfest Visual Arts
Lunarfest took place at Oakridge Centre from January 16 to February 10 in 2020. The upscale Vancouver mall is located at 650 West 41st Avenue which is at the corner of Cambie Street and 41st.
Most of the event at Oakridge Centre is fairly low key each year, consisting primarily of displays of Chinese art and craft activities. A number of special events do also take place at the mall. 2020 events included the following:
- Saturday, January 18, 2020 – Ratafoodie lantern craft activities and a Lion Dance between 1 and 3 pm.
- Thursday, January 23, 2020 – Ratafoodie lantern craft activities as part of the mall’s Westbank Event between 6 and 8 pm.
- Saturday, January 25, 2020 – Ratafoodie lantern craft activities between 12 and 2 pm.
- Saturday, February 1, 2020 – Ratafoodie lantern craft activities between 12 and 2 pm.
Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza – LunarFest Celebrations
In 2020 the main family-friendly Lunarfest celebrations took place in the Plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Georgia Street between Howe and Hornby on the weekend of January 25 & 26.
The event ran from about 11:00 am until 6:00 pm on both days. Activities last year included crafts, fortune telling, live entertainment and various other activities. We expect 2022 details to be similar.
Lunarfest outside the Vancouver Art Gallery is a smaller festival-type-of-event that’s free to attend and suitable for young children and their families.
Queen Elizabeth Theatre – A Musical Banquet
In years when there isn’t a global pandemic, Lunarfest usually features a major theatrical or musical production at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre which is located at 630 Hamilton Street in Vancouver. In 2020 it was a concert on Saturday, January 25, starting at 7:30 pm.
A Taiwanese tradition during the lunar New Year is to have street banquets. In 2020 the Chai Found Music Workshop presented A Musical Banquet: A Feast of Sumptuous Classical Music which was a Sizhu (i.e., chamber-music-style) interpretation of such an event. The performance featured a mix of contemporary classical compositions and both traditional Taiwanese and Chinese music.
Tickets to the show cost about $20 (plus tax). For tickets and more information click A Musical Banquet 2020.
To give you an idea of what to expect from the A Musical Banquet performance, check out the following video:
Jack Poole Plaza – Coastal Lunar Lanterns
Coastal Lunar Lanterns is an art display at Jack Poole Plaza which is located at 1055 Canada Place on the western side of the Vancouver Convention Centre. It’s not an event – it’s simply an art exhibit that’s pretty to see.
Coastal Lunar Lanterns ran from January 18 to February 9 in 2020. In 2021 the display was up between February 11th and the 28th. The art exhibit was accessible to the public at any time during this period, but it was most interesting at night when it was all lit up. If you happen to be in the area, like at an event at the Convention Centre or dining out at the nearby Cactus Club or Tap & Barrel restaurants, it’s worth checking out.
For more information about the event in general, click Vancouver Lunarfest.
For other “Year of the Ox” events in Metro Vancouver, see our article about Chinese New Year Celebrations.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver’s January or February Event Calendars
- Lower Mainland Festivals & Events
- Vancouver Chinese New Year Parade
- Vancouver Taiwanese Festivals