Chinese Lunar New Year Parades and Free Celebrations in NYC

When is the 2016 Chinese New Year Parade in New York City, Brooklyn, Queens?

The Lunar New Year is one of our favorite winter celebrations in New York City, and we're particularly excited for 2016's family activities.

Often referred to as the Chinese New Year, although many Asian nations celebrate it, the holiday is taking place two weeks earlier than last year, on Monday, February 8, 2016, and NYC public schools are closed for the holiday for the very first time. It's also the Year of the Monkey, the ultimate kid animal! We can't think of a better reason to mark this school and cultural holiday with a full family celebration.

So read on for the best Lunar New Year parades, family dance parties, museum events, crafts and more for NYC kids. 

Commemorating the Lunar New Year is also great time to enjoy Asian food and learn about Asian culture. And with celebrations and parades in almost every borough, it's also an opportunity to go out and explore a new-to-you neighborhood like Flushing in Queens or Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

Click through to the event listing for all the details, including address, time, price and recommended ages.

Moon Over Manhattan! Celebrate Lunar New Year — Upper East Side
Saturday, February 6
Head to Asia Society for a lion dance, kung fu demos and other activities inspired by Lunar New Year traditions spanning the continent.

Expect eye-catching dances and musical performances at the FREE Fantastic Arts China fest. Photo courtesy of National Dance Institute.

Happy Chinese New Year: Fantastic Art China — Midtown
Saturday, February 6-10
Join the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) and the U.S.-China Cultural Institute at the second annual Fantastic Arts China celebration. Festivities kick off with a free, public concert at the Jacob K. Javits Center with world-renowned composer and conductor Tan Dun. In addition, the five-day long celebration features a Chinese Art exhibit also at the Javits Center, as well as fireworks on February 6 over the Hudson River and a light show on the Empire State Building. (The New York City Philharmonic will also perform a special Chinese New Year concert on February 9. Purchase tickets for this special event here.) FREE

RELATED: Ninth Avenue Ethnic Food Crawl with Kids

Everyone can try traditional Himalayan dancing at the Rubin Museum's fest. Photo by Michael Palma/courtesy of the museum.

Losar Family Day: Celebrate the Year of the Fire Monkey — Greenwich Village
Saturday, February 6
Join the Rubin Museum of Art for an afternoon of art, crafts, and music to celebrate Losar, the Himalayan New Year. Learn about traditional celebrations, go on a family tour of the galleries, listen to traditional music and make auspicious crafts to take home.

Lunar New Year: Year of the Monkey Celebration — Battery Park City
Saturday, February 6
Ring in the Lunar New Year with a 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, theatrical players in full traditional make-up and regalia and the Monkey King himself! Festivities will be preceded with a Lion Parade led by lion dances. FREE

Celebrate Lunar New Year Madison Street To Madison Avenue — Upper East Side
Saturday, February 6
Madison Street to Madison Avenue is as authentic a celebration of the Lunar New Year as one could hope for. Visitors to this uptown outdoor festival will experience traditional lion dancers, family-friendly entertainment and engaging activities including face painting, calligraphy and a photo booth.

RELATED: February GoList: Best Things to Do This Month with Kids

Kids can participate in a number of artist-led Lunar New Year crafts at the Met. Photo by Dan Pollard/courtesy of the museum.

Lunar New Year Festival Upper East Side
Saturday, February 6
Head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its annual pan-Asian celebration with activities and entertainment from across the continent. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Met's Department of Asian Art with traditions from across Asia. Mark the Year of the Monkey, one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, with performances, interactive gallery activities, and artist-led workshops for visitors of all ages. Free with suggested admission.

Tibetan Cultural Festival: Celebration of Losar — Soho
Sunday February 7
The Children's Museum of the Arts is hosting this terrific event featuring traditional Tibetan instruments, as well as workshops throughout the museum inspired by Tibetan culture and the many traditions of the Lunar New Year, known as Losar. Free with admission.

Lunar New Year — Prospect Park
Monday, February 8
The Prospect Park Alliance celebrates the Lunar New Year by inviting Brooklyn families to explore nature, learn about the survival strategies of animals living in Prospect Park, and make crafts at the historic Lefferts House ($3 suggested donation to make crafts). Free with admission.

Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival Chinatown
Monday, February 8
No, this isn't Chinatown's famous Lunar New Year Parade (that happens on Sunday, February 14). This is the nabe's other big holiday bash, which takes place on Chinese New Year proper. Kick off the Year of the Monkey with a literal bang as 600,000 firecrackers explode to ward off evil spirits at 11am. Afterward, dragon and lion dancers will march through Chinatown's streets and join in a festival featuring performances and food. FREE

Lunar New Year Crafts Workshop — Flushing
Monday, February 8
If you are close by, this is a wonderful opportunity to make crafts at the charming Historical Browne House. Perfect for children 4-10.

Queens Lunar New Year Parade and Celebration — Flushing
Saturday, February 13
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

Chinese New Year Celebration: The Year of the Monkey — Financial District
Saturday, February 13
Catch a lion dance and kung fu demos outside the China Institute at no cost—a great way to celebrate Lunar New Year with young children who aren't ready for a big parade. For a more immersive experience, head inside for workshops on dumpling- and lantern-making, kid-friendly tours of the galleries and food. The lion dance outside is free; admission for indoor activities.

Dancing down Mott Street at the city's Chinatown Lunar New Year parade. Photo via Shutterstock.

Manhattan Lunar New Year Parade and Festival — Chinatown
Sunday, February 14
Approximately half a 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, 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. Skip the busy dim sum restaurants on this day to head for one of the city's best food courts where you'll always find great ethnic eats. FREE

Lunar New Year Dance Sampler — Flushing
Sunday, February 14
Local culture spot Flushing Town Hall hosts multiple Lunar New Year celebrations throughout the month. However, this is the big annual bash featuring a diverse lineup of dances from China, Korea, India, Taiwan and beyond. Although the performance is free, tickets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at noon on the day of the show. FREE but tickets required.

Brooklyn Lunar New Year Parade — Sunset Park
Sunday, February 14
Last year was our first time at this community-centric parade and we had a blast. Before the parade starts, revelers can buy trinkets, sparklers and Chinese firecrackers, then shower each other down 8th Avenue with silly string and confetti. The parade itself is tiny in comparison to the Manhattan version, but the lion and dragon dances are lead 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

Noodle pulling and dumpling making are also on the menu at the Museum of Chinese in America. Photo courtesy of the museum.

Lunar New Year Family Festival — Chinatown
Saturday, February 20
Head to the Museum of Chinese in America for its annual fete featuring a lion dance, a performance by Chinatown's Red Silk Dancers, interactive crafts and holiday stories.

Lunar New Year Celebration: Year of the Monkey the Bronx
Saturday, February 20
Enjoy dance performances, and paper-cutting and calligraphy demos by the New York Chinese Cultural Center at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. FREE

Lunar New Year Celebration — Corona
Saturday, February 20-Sunday, February 21
Celebrate the Year of the Monkey at the Queens Zoo by getting up close and personal with its wooly residents. There will also be performances by Chinese Theater Works, a self-guided zodiac scavenger hunt, a special New Year's craft and fortune cookies! Free with paid admission.

Find additional Lunar New Year celebrations in our Event Calendar.

​Top photo via Shutterstock.

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