5 ways to ring in the Lunar New Year in the Northwest

Lion dancers help celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year in Seattle’s International District in 2011. (Photo by Joe Mabel)
Lion dancers help celebrate Chinese New Year in Seattle’s International District in 2011. (Photo by Joe Mabel)

A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the date of the Seattle Center Tét Celebration as January 25-26. It is February 21-22nd.

The haunting rhythm of drums shakes the ground, growing louder and louder. Two men transform a mask with fiery eyes and long multicolored cloth into a living, breathing lion. They dance through the streets, collecting red envelopes full of money in celebration of the year ahead.

China, Vietnam, and many other Asian countries celebrate the new lunar year (this year it’s February 19th) with fireworks, dances and days-long festivities. Here in Seattle and the surrounding areas we have many of our own Chinese New Year and other Lunar New Year celebrations.

Here are some local options for festivals and activities where you can ring in the Lunar New Year with food, dance, and other traditions from across Asia:

Asia Pacific New Year

Where: Tacoma Dome

When: February 14, 2015 11:00 AM-6:00 PM

The Asia Pacific Cultural center will be bringing together a number of traditions to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The “host country” or most featured country for this year will be Pakistan. Traditions from other regions across Asia and the Pacific including Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii and others will also be celebrated.

Losar: Tibetan New Year

Where: Sakya Monastery, Greenwood

When: February 19, 2015 10:00 AM

Losar is a Tibetan Buddhist holiday kicked off by cleaning house and trying to shed any negativities of the previous year. Next step is to embrace joy and prosperity for the New Year by eating traditional dishes, singing and dancing. Colorful prayer flags dance outside of houses and temples to bless the area in the New Year.

Members of Seattle’s Tibetan community will be celebrating at the New Year with the Northwest Dharma Association at Sakya Monastery on February 19th. The celebration will start with the Tibetan national anthem, followed by different speakers giving prayers for the New Year and the hanging of prayer flags around the temple. The celebration will close with Tibetan Tea and Long Life rice to symbolize long life and prosperity in the New Year.

Fireworks explode at a Chinese New Year celebration in the Netherlands. (Photo from Flickr by Christopher A. Dominic)
(Photo from Flickr by Christopher A. Dominic)

Tét Festival: Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Where: Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center

When: February 21st-22nd, 2015 11:00 AM-6:30 PM

Tét is a holiday in Vietnam where people bring in the New Year as well as pay respects to their ancestors. Traditional Tét celebrations begin with cleaning the house to get rid of bad luck and prepare for the New Year, and end with family meals and gatherings. It is a time for rest, renewal, and peace in the Vietnamese culture.

Seattle’s celebration events include a Lion Dance, a children’s’ Vietnamese spelling bee, a martial arts workshop, Vietnamese dance performances, a variety of traditional food and more.

Chinese New Year: International District

Where: Downtown/International district

When: Saturday February 21st, 2015 11:00 AM-4:00 PM

Chinese New Year is traditionally celebrated with a family meal of fish and dumplings. Fireworks are launched into the sky to send away evil spirits as well as rejoice in the New Year. One of the best known traditions is the lion dance, which is preformed by two dancers, one operating the head and one operating the tail of the lion. It is preformed to scare away ghosts and spirits.

The International District will be bringing in the Year of the Sheep with a number of traditional Chinese Dragon and Lion Dances, a children’s’ costume contest, Japanese Taiko Drumming, arts and crafts, and over 30 restaurants participating in a food walk with $2 tasting menu.

Chinese New Year: Bellevue

Where: The Bellevue Collection, Bellevue Square

When: Saturday February 21st, 2015, 11:00 am-6:00 pm

The Bellevue connection and the Seattle Chinese Culture and Arts Association will be holding a day full of celebration for the New Year. This event will include performers throughout the day including traditional and modern Chinese dance, Chinese opera, folk dances, a calligrapher and martial arts displays. There will be a variety of Chinese foods and vendors.

Know another Lunar New Year event we haven’t listed here? Tell us about it in the comments and post it to our events calendar.