LUNAR NEW YEAR AND COVID-19
Events at the temple didn’t happen in 2021 and 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and they didn’t happen in 2023 either. Hopefully they’ll return in a future year.
Although nothing special took place at Lunar New Year at the temple in 2023, there was quite a bit happening elsewhere to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit in the Lower Mainland. For a list of things to do, see our article about Vancouver Lunar New Year Events.
New Year’s Eve at Buddhist Temple
The Year of the Rat heralded in the Chinese New Year on January 25th, 2020. In 2021 it was the Year of the Ox which kicked off on Friday, February 12th. 2022 marked the start of the Year of the Tiger and it began on February 1st. 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit and it started on January 22nd. The Year of the Dragon heralds in the 2024 Chinese Near Year on Saturday, February 10th.
In years prior to COVID, celebrations used to begin at the temple on the day before the start of the New Year, so on Lunar New Year’s Eve. Arguably, nowhere in the Lower Mainland were the festivities more culturally interesting than at the International Buddhist Temple between around 10:00 am and midnight. Although the celebrations went all day, it was at night when they became especially amazing.
What to Expect on New Year’s Eve
Don’t expect fireworks and people drinking alcohol in the streets during the Lunar New Year celebrations when attending a Buddhist Temple. Instead, expect to smell incense and Asian foods, to hear the occasional gong and chanting, and to see beautiful lanterns, massive temple buildings, thousands of (primarily Chinese and other Asian) people walking around, golden statues and elaborate gardens all lit up in the evening.
Truly, the experience at night is spectacular – in a Zen Buddhist kind of way.
The best time to be at the temple on New Year’s Eve is after dark, with the place getting increasingly busy and lively as the evening progresses. Get there early to find parking, but not too early that you miss the crowds completely.
In years when there isn’t a global pandemic, the crowds start getting big around 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Expect to stay for at least one hour, but likely more, especially if arriving later in the evening. If it’s not raining and you can stay until 11:00 pm or even later, you won’t be disappointed.
Admission and Parking
Admission to the International Buddhist Temple is free every day of the year, including on New Year’s Eve, although donations are appreciated.
Parking at the temple during the day isn’t usually a problem, but at night on New Year’s Eve it can get crazy. Volunteers do a great job of directing traffic, however, and fields are opened up on the property to accommodate the masses. That being said, don’t expect to find parking anywhere nearby in the later part of the evening.
TIP: Carpool with friends and get there early, or take public transit if possible (although it’s a bit out of the way).
See International Buddhist Temple for more information on the temple.
Click New Year’s Eve Celebrations for further details about the event.
Check out Year of the Pig Celebrations for other Chinese New Year activities in Metro Vancouver.