CHINATOWN — Chinatown is gearing up for several weeks’ worth of festivities as the Year of the Horse gallops into the past.
The Year of the Ram — also known as the Year of the Goat or Sheep, depending on the translation — kicks off on Feb. 19 with the Firecracker Ceremony and will continue with parades and other celebrations to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
“It’s buzzing with energy,” said Wellington Chen, the executive director of the Chinatown Business Improvement District and the Chinatown Partnership. “It’s a cheerful, festive event.”
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The Firecracker Ceremony and Parade
Lunar New Year starts with a bang on Feb. 19, when Better Chinatown USA hosts the New York Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival at Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Grand Street between Chrystie and Forsyth streets.
A few days later, dancing lions, floats and drummers will wind through the neighborhood as part of the 16th annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade.
The popular parade will head south on Mott Street from Hester Street and then cross east on Division Street before heading up to Sara D. Roosevelt Park, according to parade organizer Better Chinatown USA.
Lunar New Year Events at the Museum of Chinese in America
The Museum of Chinese in America hosts a walking tour that explains how Chinatown prepares for the Lunar New Year, as well as the holiday’s traditions and customs. Tours occur twice a day on Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 22.
For those with children, the museum also offers a Lunar New Year Family Festival on Feb. 28, which includes a lion dance performance and workshop and a food tasting and demonstration.
Other activities include Lunar New Year-themed arts and crafts, story time and a calligraphy demonstration.
Lunar New Year Meals and Treats
One way to celebrate Lunar Year is to eat foods that symbolize luck and prosperity, like clementines — which can be found in fruit stalls across the neighborhood — and dumplings, said Alana Hoye Barnaba who founded Ahoy New York Tours and Tasting, which focuses on Chinatown and Little Italy.
She also recommended meals at banquet halls like Jing Fong Restaurant on Elizabeth Street or Amazing 66 on Mott Street, where many families go to celebrate the New Year.
Some restaurants are also offering special menus to celebrate the holiday.
Red Egg, located at 202 Centre St. is serving traditional dishes a la carte — like sauteed scallops and grilled lamb chops this week — but will also offer a 10-course banquet on Feb. 20 and 21 for $60 a person. The restaurant will also host lion dances each night from Feb. 18 through 21, according manager Alan Choi.
A Chinese New Year menu with a more modern twist — featuring scallop wantons, a Chinese "porchetta" and a "Danish Tang Yuan," a mashup of a traditional Lunar New Year dessert and Danish pancake — is also available at Fung Tu, a Chinese-American restaurant located at 22 Orchard St. The menu will be available from Feb. 17 through March 5.
More than a dozen lion dance troupes will perform in the streets on Super Saturday, the weekend after the parade, on Feb. 28. The groups will visit local businesses along the route, which will greet the lions with money offerings packaged in red envelopes for good luck in the upcoming year.
Although lively, Super Saturday is not as busy as the parade, which draws tens of thousands of visitors into the neighborhood, Chen said.
“That’s a day that’s more relaxed,” he said.
Visitors can spot dancers on Hester, Mott, Bayard and Canal streets as well as the Bowery starting at around 11 a.m. The event will continue into the afternoon.