YEAR OF THE OX CELEBRATIONS AND COVID-19
The status of events in 2021 is to be determined because of the coronavirus pandemic. Chinese New Year events like the one at the temple in Richmond might happen, or they might not. We’re guessing they won’t, but we aren’t 100% sure (just 99% sure based on an educated guess).
As of late January, to help limit the spread of COVID-19, no social gatherings or events are permitted. Religious gatherings also aren’t allowed. The regulations continue until February 5th, but they’ll likely get extended (which means there will be no public Chinese New Year festivities this year, other than online ones or among immediate family members in private homes).
For the most up-to-date information about the status of this event, see the International Buddhist Temple‘s website.
New Year’s Eve at Buddhist Temple
Last year January 25th marked the beginning of the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese calendar. In 2021 the Year of the Ox begins on Friday, February 12th.
Celebrations begin on February 11th, which is New Year’s Eve, and nowhere are the festivities more culturally interesting than at the International Buddhist Temple between around 10:00 am and midnight. Although the celebrations go all day, it’s at night when they become especially amazing. Hopefully they’ll be able to happen in 2021.
What to Expect on New Year’s Eve
Being a Buddhist Temple, don’t expect fireworks and people drinking alcohol in the streets. Rather, 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.
At least in years when there isn’t a global pandemic, the crowds start getting big around 9:00 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 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.