Chinese New Year for NYC Kids: Celebrate Lunar New Year with Free Parades and Festivals
Chinese New Year is one of our favorite times in New York City—it's a great way to get immersed in another culture without buying an airplane ticket. Although the Year of the Snake officially begins on Sunday, February 10, Lunar New Year celebrations start in early February and continue throughout the month with many different Asian cultures and traditions represented.
This is a wonderful opportunity for families to enjoy Chinese food, and learn about Chinese culture and stories. And with different Lunar New Year parades in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, it's also a great opportunity to go out and explore a new-to-you neighborhood.
From beloved annual events like Chinatown's parade and firecracker celebration, to brand-new ways to ring in the Lunar New Year, here are the best ways to celebrate Chinese New Year with kids in NYC. Bonus: Lots of them are free.
Express Your Inner Snake: Lunar New Year Festival Family Day – Chinatown
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street between Grand and Hester Streets
Saturday, February 2 11am-6pm
$10, free for children under 5
There's a lot to see at MoCA and this annual family festival is the perfect time to check out this off the beaten path museum. Kids can ring in the Year of the Snake with Mandarin lessons, holiday arts and crafts, lion and red silk dance performances and workshops, and family-friendly gallery tours. Busy on February 2? The museum is also hosting a family dumpling making and eating workshop with Rickshaw Dumplings' Kenny Lao on Saturday, March 2.
Family Day: Korean New Year – Midtown East
The Korea Society, 950 Third Avenue at 57th Street
Saturday, February 2 at 1 and 3pm
$15 per person, $30 per family
Celebrate the Lunar New Year Korean-style by hearing traditional folk tales, practicing your formal bow, playing games, crafting kites and chowing down on ethnic eats.
Lunar New Year Festival – Hudson Square
Children's Museum of the Arts, 103 Charlton Street between Hudson and Greenwich Streets
Saturday, February 2-Sunday, February 3 10am-5pm
Free with admission: $11
CMA's Chinese New Year family celebration is always super-popular, especially with younger children. Kids can get creative by working on a variety of Chinese and holiday-themed art projects, watch Mongolian bowl and Chinese sword, ribbon and handkerchief dances, and cheer on the young Chinese Lion Dancers from P.S.124. There will also be a giant dragon parade throughout the museum.
Saturday Family Program: Chinese New Year – Prospect Heights
Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza
Saturday, February 9 at 1pm
Celebrate the Year of the Snake with a free family performance organized by the CBA Culture & Art Center, featuring music, magic and dance.
Moon Over Manhattan: Celebrate the Lunar New Year Family Day – Upper East Side
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets
Saturday, February 9 1-4pm
$12 for adults, $5 for children
The afternoon includes a lion dance, kung fu demos, drop-in holiday crafts, and a Chinese children's song workshop led by the Shanghai Restoration Project and jazz singer Zhang Le.
Lunar New Year Festival – Flushing
Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Saturday, February 9 at 1pm
The New York Chinese Cultural Center sponsors this Chinese New Year fete. Try your hand at holiday crafts like paper cutting, calligraphy and making dough figurines in the lobby. Afterward, head into the theater for a jam-packed cultural lineup, including the Peking Opera, the Chinese rock band Hsu-nami, and Chinese sword, ribbon and folk dance performances. Preregistration required.
Year of the Snake Celebrations – Crown Heights
Brooklyn Children's Museum, 145 Brooklyn Avenue between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place
Saturday, February 9-Sunday February 10 and Saturday, February 16-Sunday, February 17. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
Free with admission: $9
Throughout both weekends, preschoolers can learn about the holiday and create snake-themed crafts. On Saturday, February 9, school-age kids can explore the Chinese Zodiac while making a serpent craft, and on Sunday, February 10 they can study the science behind rockets—a Chinese invention!
Lunar New Year Celebration – Corona
Queens Zoo, 53-51 111th Street in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Saturday, February 9-Sunday February 10 noon-4pm
Free with admission: $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12
Celebrate the Year of the Snake by getting up close and personal with a boa constrictor and a black rat snake in the zoo's discovery center. Other activities include listening to snake-themed stories and learning about animals of the Chinese zodiac. The first 100 kids to arrive each day will receive a traditional Lunar New Year red envelope with a little holiday gift, and everyone can warm up with hot chocolate or tea.
Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival – Chinatown
Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Grand and Chrystie Streets
Sunday, February 10 11am-3pm
No, this isn't Chinatown's famous Lunar New Year Parade (that happens on Sunday, February 17). This is the nabe's other big holiday bash, which takes place on Chinese New Year proper. Kick off the Year of the Snake with a bang as 600,000 firecrackers explode to ward off evil spirits. Afterward, dragon, unicorn and lion dancers will march through Chinatown's streets and join in a festival featuring performances and food.
Lunar New Year Dance Sampler – Flushing
Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard between Main and Union Streets
Sunday, February 10 at 1pm
This culture spot's annual Chinese New Year performance features a diverse lineup of dances from China, Korea, India, Taiwan, Egypt and even the Americas. This is one of many Lunar New Year events at Flushing Town Hall scheduled for February and March. Others of particular interest to families include a printmaking workshop on Sundays, February 24 and March 3, and In Foreign Lands - Frederic Chiu, a musical and poetry performance with a pre-show interactive workshop on Saturday, February 16.
Chinese New Year Celebration: The Year of the Snake – Upper East Side
China Institute, 125 East 65th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues
Sunday, February 10 11am-2:45pm
Lion dance is FREE. Workshops are $30 each or $50 for two per adult-child pair
Families can enjoy a lion dance and kung fu demos outside the China Institute at no cost. It's a great way to introduce Chinese New Year to younger kids who aren't ready for the big parades. There are also three somewhat pricey workshops on dumpling making, paper cutting and calligraphy inside the institute.
Lunar New Year Festival – Park Slope
Brooklyn Millennium High School, 237 Seventh Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets
Sunday, February 10 at 11am
The New York Chinese Cultural Center's Brooklyn event is similar to the one it's hosting at the Queens Theatre, with holiday crafts followed by live cultural performances.
Lunar New Year Lantern Making Workshop – Flushing
Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street near Dahlia Avenue
Saturday, February 16 1-3pm
Families can create their own Chinese paper lanterns using a color scheme that reflects their wish for the Year of the Snake. Afterward, stay and explore the garden, which is beautiful even in winter.
Queens Lunar New Year Parade and Celebration – Flushing
Starts at Union Street and 39th Avenue
Saturday, February 16 at 11am
Since Flushing is home to a huge community of Chinese and East Asian residents, it's no wonder its parade rivals Chinatown's. Expect dragon dancers, steel drummers, firecrackers and crowds. The procession ends at Main Street and 39th Avenue near the Queens Crossing Mall, which hosts a cultural celebration beginning at 12:30pm.
Manhattan Lunar New Year Parade – Chinatown
Begins at Mott and Hester Streets. Find the complete route on the Better Chinatown website.
Sunday, February 17 at 1pm
Half a million spectators are expected to line the streets of Chinatown for this colorful pan-Asian procession, which includes Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Malaysian and even Hispanic floats and cultural performances. This year the organizers hope to set a new world record for the largest group of Gangnam Style dancers! Arrive early—by noon at the latest—if you want to snag a good spot. It's a very festive and very loud affair that's way too crowded for strollers, so it's probably a bit much for the preschool set. After you've watched your fill, head to Sara D. Roosevelt Park at Canal and Forsyth Streets for an outdoor cultural festival, which begins at noon. If you want to finish the day with dim sum, check out our roundup of family-friendly Chinatown restaurants, which, as you can imagine, will be pretty busy. Be prepared to wait!
Brooklyn Lunar New Year Parade – Sunset Park
Sunday, January 17 at noon
Begins at Eighth Avenue and 50th Street
We've never been to Brooklyn's Chinese New Year celebration, but we've heard from friends and readers that it's a great one to hit since it's a bit under the radar. No wonder: Annual sponsor the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association has yet to post the info on its website, but we called and verified that the parade starts at noon, preceded by appearances from community luminaries and cultural performances for kids and adults at 10am. The procession ends at 61st Street and Eighth Avenue.
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