Destination Directory

Celebrating Chinese New Year in North America

Chinese New Year—also known as Lunar New Year and Spring Festival—is one of the world's most celebrated annual events. Your groups don't have to travel far to celebrate. These five North American destinations host huge celebrations.



Chi-Town is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in North America, and the holidays are particularly festive. The city celebrates with a vivacious parade in the heart of downtown, the Chinese Lantern Festival and more. Cultural institutions host special exhibitions and performances—like 2018's Chinese New Year Kickoff Celebration at the Chicago Cultural Center and the Chinese New Year Celebration at Navy Pier.


Manhattan's Chinatown boasts event after event during Lunar New Year—beginning with the Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival on the first day. The street party features vendors, food and festivities for all ages. Perhaps most popular is the Lunar New Year parade, which winds its way through the main streets of Little Italy and Chinatown and features impressive performances. Lunar New Year events also take place in New York City's other Chinatowns: Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens.


San Francisco hosts one of the oldest and largest Chinese New Year festivals in North America. The city celebrates with an entire month of special exhibitions and events, among them the Southwest Airlines New Year Parade—one of the grandest illuminated parades in the United States. The parade first started in the 1860s and has grown to be one of the largest celebrations of Asian culture outside of Asia. It features elaborate floats, lion dancers, folk dancers, costumed elementary school groups, marching bands, stilt walkers, Chinese acrobats and a 268-foot-long Golden Dragon.


Toronto's Chinatown, known for its rich multicultural heritage, wouldn't look out of place in Hong Kong. The area comes even more alive for Chinese New Year. Streamers, lights, dancing dragons and bountiful food accompany the festivities each year. Spadina Street serves as the main drag, and the Harbourfront Centre hosts programs—such as workshops and food festivals, like the Dumpling Festival—almost daily.


Vancouver's Chinatown was established in the 1890s and is rich in history and architecture: It's the third-largest Chinatown, after New York City and San Francisco. Vancouver's Lunar Festival events and activities range from parades and lantern festivals to culinary extravaganzas. Markets, art galleries, casinos and more all join the celebration.

Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.

Photo Courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association / Corbett Lee.


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