Chinese Lunar New Year Parades and Celebrations for NYC Kids

Lunar New Year 2018 in NYC: Parades for Kids and Families To Welcome the Year of the Dog

Lunar New Year is one of our favorite winter celebrations in New York City, and we're particularly excited for 2018's family activities. School-aged kids ought to be excited, too, as the holiday gives them an extra day off from school.

Often referred to as Chinese New Year, although many Asian nations celebrate it, the holiday takes place on Friday, February 16, 2018, and ushers in the Year of the Dog. Mark this cultural holiday with a family-friendly celebration. We've got the scoop on the best Lunar New Year parades, family dance parties, museum events, crafts, and more for NYC kids.

Commemorating Lunar New Year is a great way to learn about Asian culture and enjoy the food. Check out one of these dozen NYC eateries where you can enjoy Lunar New Year banquets, snacks, or desserts. With celebrations and parades in almost every borough, it's also an opportunity to get out and explore a new-to-you neighborhood such as Manhattan's ChinatownFlushing in Queens, Sunset Park in Brooklyn, or Midtown Manhattan's Koreatown.

Click through to the event listing for all the details, including addresses, times, prices, and recommended ages.

Lunar New Year's Celebration at the Queens Museum — Flushing, Queens
Sunday, February 4
Head to the Queens Museum to enjoy a day-long festival dedicated to the Year of the Dog. The museum has teamed up with the New York City Chinese Cultural Center to offer dance and martial arts demos, storytelling, crafting of LED-powered paper lanterns, and a calligraphy workshop. Free with suggested admission.

Little New Yorkers Celebrate Lunar New Year — Upper West Side
Tuesday, February 6 and Friday, February 16
Visit the New-York Historical Society for its special Lunar New Year-themed Little New Yorkers. You'll listen to a reading of A Different Pond by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui. The fun rounds out with a New Year's-themed craft. Included in museum admission.

Chinese New Year Temple Bazaar — Flushing, Queens
Saturday, February 10–Sunday, February 11
Visit Flushing Town Hall to partake in a centuries-old Lunar New Year tradition: the temple fair. Families can enjoy performances, view martial-arts demonstrations, and sample traditional foods. Timed sessions are held daily, but tickets sell fast, which are $5 per person per session.

Lunar New Year Celebration — Corona, Queens
Saturday, February 10–Sunday, February 11
Celebrate at the Queens Zoo with cultural puppet performances, a self-guided scavenger hunt, calligraphy workshop, and fortune cookies. Free with paid admission.

Lunar New Year at the Prospect Park Zoo — Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Saturday, February 10–Sunday, February 11
Ring in the Year of the Dog by hanging with the zoo's wild dingos. You'll also enjoy a puppet performance, embark on a Zodiac-themed scavenger hunt, eat fortune cookies, and attend calligraphy workshops. All events included in the price of admission.

Celebrate Lunar New Year Madison Street to Madison Avenue — Midtown East
Saturday, February 10
Madison Street to Madison Avenue is as authentic a celebration of the Lunar New Year as one could hope for. Visitors to this outdoor festival experience traditional lion dancers, family-friendly entertainment, and engaging activities, including face painting, calligraphy, and a photo booth. Following the Midtown performances, a lion dance troupe will make its way north along Madison Avenue to 86th Street making stops along the way. In honor of the Year of the Dog, man's best friend is encouraged to attend. FREE

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Welcome the New Year with a bang at the Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival. Photo courtesy of Better Chinatown USA

Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival — Chinatown
Friday, February 16
No, this isn't Chinatown's famous Lunar New Year Parade (that happens on Sunday, February 25). This is the nabe's other big holiday bash, which takes place on Chinese New Year proper. Kick off the Year of the Dog with a literal bang as 600,000 firecrackers explode at noon to ward off evil spirits. Afterward, dragon and lion dancers march through Chinatown's streets and join in a festival featuring performances and food. FREE

Lunar New Year Lantern Making — East Harlem
Friday, February 16
The Museum of the City of New York invites families to join in a lantern-making craft. As always, family programs include a free snack for the kids. Included with museum admission.

Moon Over Manhattan! Celebrate Lunar New Year — Upper East Side
Saturday, February 17
Head to the Asia Society for a lion dance, kung fu demos, and other activities inspired by Lunar New Year traditions. 

Queens Lunar New Year Parade and Celebration — Flushing, Queens
Saturday, February 17
Since Flushing is home to a large community of Chinese and East Asian residents, it's no wonder its parade rivals Chinatown's. Expect dragon dancers, steel drummers, firecrackers, and crowds. FREE

Lunar New Year's Celebration — Flushing, Queens
Saturday, February 17
The Queens Botanical Garden welcomes children for New Year-themed storytime and crafts. You can also learn about Lunar New Year's lucky plants and purchase one of your own to take home. FREE

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Noodle pulling and dumpling making have been features in past Museum of Chinese in America fetes. Photo courtesy of the museum

Lunar New Year Family Festival — Chinatown
Saturday, February 17
Head to the Museum of Chinese in America for its annual fete featuring zodiac-themed arts and crafts, live dance performances, tales inspired by both Chinese and Chinese-American experiences, and more. Included with museum admission.

Lunar New Year: Year of the Dog Celebration — Battery Park City
Saturday, February 17
Celebrate at Brookfield Place with this family-friendly performance presented in partnership with the New York Chinese Cultural Center. You will be entertained with traditional Chinese dance and music, a martial arts demonstration, and, of course, a lion parade. FREE

Lunar New Year at the Staten Island Museum — Snug Harbor, Staten Island
​Saturday, February 17
Say goodbye to the year of the Fire Rooster and hello to the year of the Earth Dog as the Staten Island Museum and the Korean Community Development Center celebrate with traditional foods, a Korean royal dance performance, Tae Kwon Do demo, and the Chinese Lion Dance performance.

Brooklyn Lunar New Year Parade — Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Sunday, February 18
Before the parade starts, revelers can buy trinkets, sparklers, and Chinese firecrackers, then shower each other down Eighth Avenue with silly string and confetti. The parade is small compared with the Manhattan version, but the lion and dragon dances are led by drumming felt blocks away, and the costumes are gorgeous. This event is hosted by the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association. Festivities begin at 11am, before the parade at noon on Eighth Avenue and 50th Street. FREE

Family Sundays: Himalayan New Year — Chelsea
Sunday, February 18
The Rubin Museum of Art invites families to celebrate Losar, the Himalayan New Year, as well as Lunar New Year each Sunday in February. There will be opportunities for family art-making in which participants can create a Earth Dog-themed mud painting, interact with therapy dogs, add their wishes to the Wishing Tree, and enjoy a DIY gallery scavenger hunt. FREE

There will be many traditional Asian performances at the Met. Photo by Dan Pollard/courtesy of the museum.

Lunar New Year Festival — Upper East Side
Saturday, February 24
Head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its annual pan-Asian celebration with activities and entertainment from across the continent. Enjoy live performances, interactive gallery activities, and artist-led workshops for visitors of all ages. Free with suggested admission.

Dance Gala of the Lunar New Year — Flushing, Queens
Sunday, February 25
Head to the Flushing branch of the Queens Library for a dance performance by the New Star Arts Center, whose mission is to use dance as a way to introduce Chinese culture to American audiences. If this one doesn't fit your schedule, several Queens Library branches have Lunar New Year's events throughout the month. FREE

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Kids can participate in Lunar New Year crafts at the China Institute. Photo courtesy of the institute

Chinese New Year Celebration: The Year of the Dog — Financial District
Sunday, February 25
Head inside the China Institute for workshops on dumpling- and lantern-making, interactive storytelling, kid-friendly tours of the galleries, and food. There are lion dance and musical performances, too. Some workshops require advance registration. 

Manhattan Lunar New Year Parade and Festival — Chinatown
Sunday, February 25
About a half-million spectators 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. Arrive early—by noon at the latest—if you want to snag a good spot. It's a festive, loud affair that's way too crowded for strollers, so it's probably a bit much for the preschool set. FREE

Find additional Lunar New Year celebrations in our Event Calendar.

Top photo via Shutterstock.

This post, originally published in January 2009, is updated annually.