How to Celebrate the Chinese New Year 2016 in Los Angeles
The Chinese New Year period is hugely celebrated in the United States and especially in Los Angeles. You will not be short of places to visit and events to attend throughout the Lunar New Year 2016!
As in any other big city, state or county, Los Angeles is filled with fun events and activities during the Chinese New Year. This event is the Chinese community’s chance to show off everything they have to offer. From incredible art, culture, to food, drinks and a range of performances. Everyone gathers to enjoy the festivities. You will be able to witness members of the Chinatown community, immigrant communities, Chinese-Americans and culture fiends gather at the Los Angeles Chinese New Year celebrations throughout the end of January and most of February.
About the Chinese New Year 2016
The Chinese New Year is also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival (the translation of the modern Chinese name). It is observed by Chinese communities world wide amongst other audiences. The Chinese New Year is cultural, religious and represents the first fifteen days of the Chinese calendar which, is in fact different to other calendars. The Chinese New Years runs way back before any of us were even born. It started from certain old myths and traditions. The festival is a way for people to honour ancestors and elders.
The Chinese New Year brings forward a number of celebrations worldwide. Whether you find yourself in The United States, Europe or Asia you will find some form of festival or event to attend. Typically, Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries with a strong Chinese population, these include: China, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and many more. Celebrations around the world start the day before the Chinese New Year until the proceeding month. Typically, the Chinese New Year falls between the 21 January and the 20 February every year.
The festivities do not just stop at the streets of the big cities! Normally, Traditional Chinese families use this event as an occasion to cleanse their homes. Once homes have been cleansed they organise family reunion dinners in order to welcome fortune and a variety of other forms of good luck. The windows and doors are decorated with ornaments that represent luck, happiness, fortune and so on. In addition to this, they use firecrackers and give money away in red envelopes to represent wealth and longevity.
Each Chinese New Year welcomes a new animal. When the Chinese New Year started it welcomed a beast called Nian. This beast was said to have tormented villagers. They eventually started placing food in front of their front doors in order to stop the beast from harming the villagers. Later they found the beast to be scared of the colour red which is why ornaments are traditionally hung on the door to scare away any terrors. The Chinese calendar works in cycles of 12 years, each representing an animal of the zodiac. These include: the Snake, Horse, Goat, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat, Ox, tiger, Rabbit, Dragon and of course the Monkey.
About the Year of the Monkey
This Chinese New Year welcomes the year of the Monkey. The Monkey is number nine in the Chinese Zodiac and holds five elements. These are: water, wood, fire, earth and metal. The year 2016 is the year of fire. If you are born in one of the Monkey years you may find yourself to have certain character traits. This does however depend on which type of Monkey you are. Monkeys are typically known to have character traits such as curiosity, mischievousness and cleverness. Monkeys are also seen to be the best at playing practical jokes and can therefore hurt feelings without even meaning to.
As it is the year of the Fire Monkey it is only fair that we focus on him rather than any of the other four elements. If you were born in 1956, you are a Fire Monkey. This type of Monkey is the most active of them all and can therefore be the most aggressive as well. Also seen as competitive and normally taking on the role of leader, the Fire Monkey likes to be in control of situations. Aside from this and a potential need for a bit more patience, the Fire Monkey is extremely creative and is great at getting himself out of tricky social situations.
Explore the festivities in Chinatown in Los Angeles
With the Chinese or Lunar New Year approaching, Los Angeles has a ton of activities organised for everyone to enjoy. Chinese New Year 2016 is going to hit LA with a bang as there is pretty much something to do every single day! Whether you are in Los Angeles with friends or your family, you will be able to find something to do. Chinatown will be exploding with food, performance, culture and children events down every street. Although the Chinese New Year and Year of the Monkey begin on Monday 8 February 2016, the celebrations start from 31 January 2016. Don’t miss out on any of the events we have highlighted below. If you are in the area you may as well stick around for all the fun.
The Best Chinese Restaurants and Bars in Los Angeles
Although Chinatown in Los Angeles may not be quite as famous as the chinatown in San Francisco and New York, it still offers the same vibrance throughout the Chinese New Year period and the restaurants and bars are no exception. Let’s be honest, you cannot come and celebrate the Chinese New Year without stuffing your face with beautiful Chinese cuisine. Below we have highlighted some of the best Chinese bars and restaurants LA’s Chinatown has to offer.
Won Kok Restaurant
For something that reminds you of your local Chinese with a bit more style head to Won Kok. A typical mum and dad owned restaurants with no thrills but great taste. This very affordable Chinese restaurant is great if you are on a budget and want to take everyone out for a good meal. The most important thing when visiting Won Kok is to try their famous sesame balls filled with a smooth red bean center, they are amazing! All their baked goods are just fantastic and a really safe bet for a great meal.
If you go to Chinatown and ask for a good Chinese restaurant, locals may not necessarily point you this way. However, the food is incredible and really does not get the credit it deserves! You will be able to find all the classic meals you are looking for. Not only can you find the typical meals such as Peking duck, hot pots of seafood, Kung Pao chicken and everything else but it will be cooked to perfection. It is slightly pricier but well worth the cost as you will not find any other Chinese food like it in the area.
Hop Louie is not just about the food, it is about the ambience. So, we have to be honest here! The drinks selection and service is probably nothing to rave about however the food is exactly what you can expect for a cheap Chinese that you can take all your buddies to. The exterior is what you will really love. Set in a building that everyone who has not been to China imagines the buildings to look like, this spot is covered in traditional Chinese decorations. It is one of the only places that will remind you every step of the way that you are still in Chinatown.
If you are a bit of a beer nerd you may have just landed in paradise. Melody Lounge is a great spot to learn more about incredible craft beers. This is by far Chinatown’s best craft beer bar. The decor is no exception as you find yourself in a small room squeezed in with all your nearest and dearest. From lanterns to display tables, Melody Lounge is the perfect place to have a night out with the girls or lads. A truly amazing place!
A popular spot in Chinatown thanks to its amazing DJ sets and Jazz nights, General Lee’s takes an interesting spin on all the traditional cocktails out there. Each cocktail you try will have some sort of twist to them. For example, the Gin & Tonic is cut with Green Tea syrup whilst other traditional cocktails have oolong infused vermouth in them. Although the cocktails are not particular cheap you will be happy to know you can bring in your own food which will save you some cash if you are on a night out with your friends.
Events you just cannot miss in Los Angeles
If you are in Los Angeles throughout January and February you may want to keep an eye on the amazing array of events in store. With the Chinese New Year coming up, LA is going to be overflowing with incredible cultural events. From the moment January ends and February begins there are events for everyone to enjoy throughout the entirety of Chinatown. Whether you are with your family, your partner or your friends you will be able to find something, cultural, entertaining and most likely beautiful in every way. Below we have highlighted some of the top events happening during the Chinese New Year period that you just cannot miss if you are in Los Angeles.
Celebrate the Year of the Monkey in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles
The Celebration of the Chinese New Year is not just your typical street festival and parade. It is in fact a luxurious evening filled with an array of performances and culture. This year will be the fifth time the annual Chinese New Year Celebration takes place. Thanks to the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitor Bureau, China International Culture Association, Beijing Association for Cultural Exchanges and the Chinese Consulate of Los Angeles, the event will take place at the luxurious and world renowned Saban Theatre.
Performers have been training for the past year to make the celebration just as special if not more special than in previous years. The most incredible part of this event is that an array of talented live performers have been flown all the way from Beijing for the occasion. The performers are a mixture of acrobats, dancers, musicians, singers and the list goes on. The Fifth Annual Chinese New Year Celebration in Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, LA is taking place on Sunday 31 January 2016 at 8pm.
The tickets are on sale right now and although the performance is free, fees are applicable. You should however not be paying more than $6 per person. If you are looking to make a night of it, it may be worth having a look at some of the amazing Chinese New Year Hotel Packages available. These offers are applicable at a number of hotels in the Beverly Hills area including: Beverly Wilshire (Four Season Hotel), The Beverly Hilton, l’Ermitage Beverly Hills, Montage Beverly Hills and the Peninsula Beverly Hills.
Attend the Chinese New Year Festival in Monterey Park
The Chinese, or should we say, the Lunar New Year Festival in Monterey Park is something of a yearly tradition. This two day event overtakes the heart of Los Angeles with over seven blocks reserved purely for this event. The Lunar Festival in monterey Park features vendors selling unique gifts and souvenirs, food merchants of both fast food and the “harder to find” Chinese ingredients, fun fair rides, and a load of live entertainment. The festival is the perfect day out with the family as there is really something for everyone.
There is a huge array of entertainment in store for the entire weekend. There is a small parade on the first day of the festival that will feature lion dancers and thousands of firecrackers. The parking lots will be covered with big carnival fun zones and fun fair rides will be one of the top attractions, especially for the kids. Visitors congregate from the whole world to attend this event. Local Californian folk make the journey just for the weekend and the number of visitors is thought to reach anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 people.
As you already know the festival is taking place in Monterey Park more specifically seven blocks around there on Garvey Avenue between Romana and Alhambra Avenue. The event will run on Saturday 30 January from 10am to 9pm and then again on Sunday 31 January 2016 from 10am to 7pm. There are still spaces for anyone wanting to sell at the festival and parking is available in certain spaces. For those of you driving over, be warned that there will be some road closures.
Visit the Thien Hau Temple for the Chinese New Year Midnight Temple Ceremony
For a really cultural experience you may want to head over to the Thien Hau Temple. Thien Hau Temple is a Taoist temple in the heart of Los Angeles Chinatown. The temple is dedicated to the goddess of the sea, Mazu and is a place very well known for worship as well as tourists. Aside from the celebration of the birth of Mazu on March 23 of every Lunar calendar, there are a number of other events relevant to Chinese culture.
The Midnight Temple Ceremony at Thien Hau Temple is a very sacred ceremony that involves all the Chinatown community in Los Angeles gathering to welcome the Year of the Monkey. The tradition behind the ceremony is for locals to bring offerings to the sacred spirits in order to be blessed with good health, prosperity and harmony. In order to awaken the spirits, there will be firecrackers and incense burning throughout the ceremony.
The Thien Hau Temple New Year Midnight Ceremony typically takes place on the eve of the Lunar New Year on Sunday 7 February 2016. Needless to say the event is in the night from 10pm to midnight. The event is open to the public and free of charge. Offerings are not a requirement although it is a way of honouring the deities if you would like to be more directly involved in the culture of the occasion. For those driving over it is worth noting that Yale Street from Ord to Alpine Street will be closed from Sunday 7 February at 6pm to Monday 8 February 2016 at 3am.
The Lunar New Year Festival
The Lunar New Year Festival is a great way of getting to know more about Chinese culture as a whole. The festival is a full day of entertainment. This includes exhibitions of Chinese folk dancing, Lion dancers, Taiko drummers, a number of martial arts presentations including Taekwondo and much much more. This celebration of the Chinese New Year is a precise representation of how the Lunar New Year is welcomed in china itself as well as Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and any other predominantly Chinese country.
The event is a great day out for families of all backgrounds as aside from the amazing representations of Chinese entertainment, there will be an array of educational activities and exhibitions. It is really the perfect way to teach your little ones more about China and the culture of other countries. There are workshops in art making, storytelling as well as an array of other family friendly games.
The Lunar New Year Festival is taking place at the Pacific Asia Museum on 46 N Los Robles Avenue in Los Angeles. The event will be hosted on Sunday 7 February 2016 between 11am and 6pm. It is completely free and open to anyone from the public that wants to come and join in with all the fun.
Make an Appearance at the Golden Dragon Parade and Chinese New Year Festival
If you really want to finish celebrating the Chinese New Year with a big bang then you will want to stick around for Golden Dragon Parade and Chinese New Year festival! This parade is one of the oldest traditions in Los Angeles Chinatown as it has been running for 116 years so far. This 117th parade brings together hundreds of multi stage acts of anything from Kung-Fu to traditional dances and singing. It is really a sight like no other! The Golden Dragon Parade started expanding in the mid 1980’s to include a large number of floats, marching bands, the appearance of government officials and dignitaries, performers, local business leaders and of course the general public.
The amount of work that has gone into making this event a success year upon year is just unimaginable! Starting in 1898, the procession just carried on growing. Eventually, the community raised over $1,500 to buy a dragon that required over 25 men to carry it. Slowly but surely more dragon heads were imported from Hong Kong and local Chinese associations were hired as performers. Because the event carried on growing, the parade had to be held on Saturdays instead of Fridays in order to allow for more community involvement. Today over 100,000 people wait in excitement for this incredible parade!
The Golden Dragon Parade and Chinese New Year Festival is taking place in Chinatown Central Plaza at 12pm and at a variety of other locations in Los Angeles from 1pm onwards on Saturday 13 February.
The Chinese New Year is a huge event that is widely celebrated throughout the entirety of Los Angeles. If you are in the area or thinking of visiting in 2016, there is no better time then at the end of January or beginning of February. For more information on some great locations in the USA to spend the Chinese New Year have a look at all the Lunar New Year posts available on Daring Penguin.
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