Vancouver is lucky in that its multicultural makeup makes for some of the best festivals a city can offer, including Lunar New Year.
With 2020, comes the Year of the Rat, the first of all zodiac animal symbols. In Asian culture, the rat is associated with the “Earthly Branch” and midnight hours and, in the terms of yin and yang, represents the beginning of a new day. Here are just a few suggestions for celebrating Lunar New Year in Vancouver.
The 47th annual Chinese New Year Parade takes place Sunday, Jan. 26 in Chinatown. This signature event features lion dances, cultural dance troupes, marching bands, martial arts performances and much more. The parade begins at 11 a.m. A highlight of the parade is the largest assembly of traditional lion dance teams in Canada with dozens of colourful and energetic lions from various local fraternal and martial arts organizations.
The parade includes 70 entries — bringing more than 3,000 participants from various community and cultural groups — including multicultural dance troupes, the Vancouver Police Department Motorcycle Drill Team, marching bands and various community groups. It is not surprising that the parade draws over 100,000 spectators along the route each year.
The 1.3 kilometre parade route starts at the Millennium Gate on Pender Street (between Shanghai Alley and Taylor Street), proceeds east along Pender Street, turns south onto Gore, turns west onto Keefer and then disperses on Keefer at Abbott. See map here
Post-parade lion dances
You won’t want to miss the lion dances throughout Chinatown after the parade. As a Chinese New Year tradition to promote good fortune for the year, some lions will be visiting shops and businesses in Chinatown to perform a celebratory dance to bring good luck and prosperity. The dancing starts right after the parade and will run from approximately 2 to 4 p.m.
Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival — Cultural Fair
By popular demand, the Cultural Fair will be held on both Jan. 25 and 26, with multicultural performances, special lion dance grand finale, martial arts demonstration and more at Sun Yat-Sen Plaza, 50 East Pender St.
Jan. 25: 2 to 4 p.m.
Jan. 26: 2 to 4 p.m.
All events of the 2020 Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival are open to the public. The Chinese New Year Parade and the Cultural Fair are free to attend.
Yellow Peril: The Celestial Elements is a visual art exhibit inspired by the Chinese Five Elemental forces, “seized by the urgent tensions between Queer Chinese diasporic identities.”
The exhibit is a collection of multi-channel installations, including visual and sculptural activations created to provoke a cosmic encounter of our living past and present as we “race towards a healing future.”
“These elemental activations attempt to collapse the linear temporality to dislodge an emotional, spiritual, cosmological, and metaphysical enunciation of our Queer ‘Chineseness.’ Rather than focus on the trauma that queer people of colour face, this project is fundamentally an invitation to an exuberant celebration of queerness that is unabashedly Chinese.”
Feb. 1, 4 to 6 p.m.: opening
Feb 2, 5 p.m.: curator tour
Feb 15: Yellow Peril film screening and artist talk
March 7: Community food sharing
April 4: Grave Sweeping activation
Yellow Peril is at SUM Gallery, 425-268 Keefer St., from Feb. 1 to April 18.
Limited edition afternoon tea at Honey Salt
The team at Honey Salt has created a limited-edition afternoon tea service in honour of Lunar New Year festivities. Classic scones and bite-sized sandwiches are perfectly paired with a selection of Lunar New Year-inspired treats, including colourful dragon fruit tarts and house-made matcha macarons.
Lotus Whiskey Tea Lounge seasonal cocktail: Red Lotus
On the third floor of the resort, the masterminds at Lotus Whiskey Tea Lounge have created a lucky cocktail beautiful enough to play a starring role in your Instagram photos. The Red Lotus is anchored by Glenlivet and deep red pomegranate juice, picture-perfectly topped off with star anise and gold flakes. This signature cocktail is only available until Feb. 13.
As well, there’s a world of additional decor and programs happening at Parq over the next few weeks to celebrate Lunar New Year, including The Tree of Good Fortune in MRKT EAST, where guests can test their luck and pick a red envelope off the cherry blossom tree to win surprise offers, redeemable across the resort. Check out all the exciting moments here.
Fortune Sound Club is bringing back their one-day Food Fair pop-up event Jan. 26. Following the Lunar New Year parade, check out the all-ages food fair to grab a bite — or two — from these vendors:.
Dicky's Dumps Wonton Station
Maria Gamboa's Palayok
The food fair is on from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Jan. 26 at 147 East Pender St. Admission is free.
Community celebrations at Pacific Centre and Richmond Centre
Cadillac Fairview is ringing in the Year of the Rat at Pacific Centre and Richmond Centre with cultural celebrations for all to enjoy, bringing family and friends together to celebrate the Lunar New Year in a spirited way.
New this year, the shopping centres will host traditional lion dances and lion eye-dotting ceremonies, traditional Chinese dance performances, greetings and photo opportunities from the God of Fortune, and lucky red pocket giveaways.
Pacific Centre events take place in the rotunda, 701 West Georgia St., Jan. 31 at 3:30 p.m. with lion dance and eye spotting ceremony and blessing. The Richmond Centre celebration happens Jan. 26 at 11 a.m. in the Main Galleria, 6551 No. 3 Rd.
Lunar New Year at Notch8 Restaurant and Bar
Celebrate this Lunar New Year at Notch8 Restaurant and Bar in the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver with a decadent brunch buffet on Sunday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The brunch includes an exclusive menu developed by chef de cuisine Dennis Peckham and his culinary team, which features elaborate offerings to help celebrate the occasion.
Guests can enjoy a seafood bar including hot smoked salmon, Notch8 oysters and salmon gravlax, as well as chef carving stations showcasing favorites such as whole suckling pig and slow- roasted Notch8 signature prime rib.
The menu will also have a number of traditional dishes such as har gau, sui mai, black bean crab and black pepper tofu. For those looking to make the festivities that much sweeter, chef Peckham has them covered with green tea French toast topped with stewed dried fruit and a pastry bar featuring egg custard tart, jian dui, tapioca lychee pudding and red bean cake.
For reservations, please book online here or call 604-662-1900.