LunarFest Vancouver is a celebration of the Lunar New Year. The arts and cultural festival features live entertainment, lantern displays and more.
Hosted by the same organization behind TaiwanFest in September, the LunarFest series of events runs from January 20th until February 20th in 2023. It features both free and ticketed activities as well as art displays with The Lantern City.
LunarFest activities features a free event outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on January 21st and 22nd and a concert on January 24th, plus various other activities.
This article contains the following information about LunarFest:
The Lunar New Year is a traditional celebration in a number of Asian cultures. It’s the first day of a calendar based on the cycles of the moon where one of twelve zodiac animals represents each year. 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit (or at least that’s the case for this year in most cultures celebrating the day).
LunarFest is an annual celebration of the Lunar New Year in Vancouver. The festival first began in 2009. It was a notable part of the 2010 Winter Olympics and has been taking place ever since then. The festival features artistic displays, exhibits, performances and workshops over a few weeks in January and February.
LunarFest is inclusive to everyone. It’s an expression of several Asian cultures with the goal of bringing local communities together.
2023 LunarFest Schedule
LunarFest Vancouver 2023 runs from January 20th to February 20th. The theme of this year’s festival is “Year to Imagine”.
Locations and dates of things to check out are listed below. As of early January, some details are to be confirmed.
The Lantern City
Lantern displays take place at the following locations:
- šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (750 Hornby Street) – January 20th to February 7th.
- Jack Poole Plaza (1055 Canada Place) – January 20th to February 15th.
- Ocean Art Works on Granville Island (1531 Johnston Street) – January 20th to February 20th.
Special events and activities take place at the following locations:
- šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (750 Hornby Street) – January 21st and 22nd from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm.
- Ocean Art Works at Granville Island (1531 Johnston Street) – January 21st to February 20th.
Details about these events can be found further below in this article.
West End Wishes
- Vancouver’s West End (Cardero and Robson Street) – Dates and details are TBC as of early January.
LunarFest Concert: Together We Are!
A special ticketed performance takes place in downtown Vancouver.
- The Orpheum (601 Smithe Street) – January 24th at 7:30 pm.
The concert features the Harmonia String Ensemble, Vivaldi Chamber Choir, West Van Youth Band, and Out in Harmony. Artists in the concert include Ginalina, Anna Sagalova, Nicholas Urquhart, Edette Gagne and Arianna Stott. For tickets and full details click Together We Are Concert.
Continue reading to learn more about some of the featured events listed above.
The Lantern City in Vancouver
There are The Lantern City art installations at šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (outside the Vancouver Art Gallery), Jack Poole Plaza and Granville Island. The displays are free to admire and each location has a different theme.
Lantern City at the Vancouver Art Gallery: Our Wonderland
The art installation in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery takes place in šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square which is in the 800 block of West Georgia Street between Howe Street and Hornby.
The theme of the lanterns outside the art gallery last year was “We are a Family”. In 2023 the theme is “Our Wonderland” where the lantern art recognizes that cultures and family shape our stories. Like the main character in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland story, with her innocent curiosity and infinite creativity, the art allows spectators to follow the rabbits into the art’s Our Wonderland theme.
The art display at this location can be admired anytime between January 20th and February 7th in 2023.
(TIP: On Tuesday evenings admission to the art gallery is by donation between 5:00 and 8:00 pm.)
Lantern City at Jack Poole Plaza: Lost in Nature
A lantern art installation is also set up in Jack Poole Plaza which is on the west side of the Vancouver Convention Centre at 1055 Canada Place. It’s the same square as the Cauldron from the 2010 Olympics.
The display at this venue can be seen anytime between January 20th and February 15th in 2023. Last year the art at this venue was “Coastal Lunar Lanterns”. This year the art is called “Lost in Nature” which recognizes that we come from nature and return to it. In both years the art at this location has had an Indigenous theme.
(TIP: Jack Poole Plaza is at the edge of the Coal Harbour Seawall which makes a great place for a walk or bike ride.)
Lantern City at Granville Island: Forever Young
This part of The Lantern City art installations is on display at Ocean Art Works on Granville Island from January 20th until February 20th in 2023. The lanterns are free to see at any time between these date and they have a “Forever Young” theme.
The City Lantern lanterns inspire the creativity of children as well as the inner child in yourself. The lanterns glow brightly with the warmth of endless potential and hope for the future. The story behind the display is “The Cycle”, referencing life and how we pass on our legacies through stories. Three of the featured lanterns at this location are created by Arts Umbrella students.
Ocean Artworks is a covered, outdoor pavilion and public space located at 1531 Johnston Street. It’s close to the Granville Island Public Market and almost, but not quite, directly under the Granville Street Bridge. The lanterns are great to see in combination with a visit to the market and other shops at Granville Island, or while in the area for shopping, dinner at a restaurant or seeing some theatre.
Best times to check out the lanterns are at night (when they are at their prettiest), or during the day when LunarFest Community Celebrations are also taking place.
To learn more about Lantern City events visit the website thelanterncity.ca.
LunarFest Community Celebrations
In 2023 the Community Celebrations are held at two different locations, including Ocean Art Works at Granville Island (so at the same place as one of the Lantern City displays). The other venue is šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (which is the north plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery). The former is a smaller, on-going event that runs for a full 30 days. The latter is a bigger event, but for only one weekend.
Community Celebrations at Granville Island
With the first set of Community Celebrations, there is an ongoing exhibit at the Ocean Art Works building on Granville Island from January 21st until February 20th. It’s free to check out from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as from 12:00 to 3:00 pm on other days of the week.
The exhibit features the work of Chen Ching-Lin from Taiwan. He works with natural dye made from plants, flowers, fruits and other products. Chen Ching-Lin is an artist and researcher of natural dyes and fabrics. The exhibition has been brought from overseas in hopes of inspiring Vancouverites to see art in the natural world around them.
LunarFest also hosts various workshops on weekends between January 21st and February 20th at Ocean Art Works. The workshops are run in collaboration with local communities. There’s an improv song-writing workshop with Ginalina and Masaw Ali. There are also a couple of arts and crafts workshops on offer this year. Pussywillow wreath workshops are led by Neda Tanha of Willow Garden Farms, and there’s also a Persimmon Dye Workshop in which participants can learn DIY art using dye from persimmon juice.
For the festival’s official website visit lunarfestvancouver.ca.
Community Celebrations Outside the Vancouver Art Gallery
The other Community Celebrations event takes place on the weekend of January 21st and 22nd in 2023 outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. They happen in šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square which is the north plaza on West Georgia Street between Hornby Street and Howe Street.
In past years, pre-COVID, there has been a small market, live music and other entertainment. In 2018, the Year of the Dog, there was also a giant blow-up model of a dog. This year, in 2023, there was The Lantern City lantern installation, Rabbit-themed crafts activities, and a stall with souvenirs and information about LunarFest. There was also over half a dozen food vendors.
LunarFest Concert in 2023
Together We Are! is the featured LunarFest Concert in 2023. The show is at the Orpheum Theatre on January 24th at 7:30 pm.
LunarFest invites everyone to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit in harmony, whether live in concert or from around the world through the livestream. This is a concert that brings together diverse communities.
The show’s lineup includes three-time Juno-nominated Ginalina & Friends as well as the Harmonia String Ensemble, Vivaldi Chamber Choir, West Van Youth Band, and Out in Harmony.
For tickets and full details about the concert visit the LunarFest Vancouver website.
For the festival’s official website visit lunarfestvancouver.ca.
To learn about similar events celebrating the same occasion, see our article about Lunar New Year Celebrations.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- The Lantern City
- Historical Chinatown Walking Tours
- Vancouver Festivals and Events
- Shows and Entertainment Calendar
- January and February Calendars of Events
- TaiwanFest in September