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Celebrate Chinese New Year 2013

Photo Credit: Beth Taylor via Flickr

With the in-laws coming in for Chinese New Year today, deciding what to do for this festive season takes on a bit of a personal urgency for me (and tens of thousands of others around B.C.’s Lower Mainland).  The Vancouver area – and Richmond in particular – has plenty to offer those looking to try out a different kind of holiday scene.

Chinese New Year Parades, Fairs & Performances

The 40th Anniversary Chinatown Spring Festival parade, one of the most beloved and looked-forward to civic events of the year, will be hitting the streets again on February 17th. It features beautiful and captivating lion dancers, martial artists and a wide range of enthusiastic performers and volunteers — and this year will incorporate even more multi-cultural content. The sound of the drums and the colourful sights never fail to entertain adults and children alike. If you’ve been before, note that the parade route has changed a little from previous times:

“The 1.3-km long route starts at the Millennium Gate on Pender Street (between Shanghai Alley and Taylor Street), proceeds east along Pender Street, turns south onto Gore Street, turns west onto Keefer Street and then disperses on Keefer at Taylor.”

Chinese New Year 2008
Photo Credit: Scazon via Flickr

Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown district, is the number-one destination for local visitors looking to celebrate Chinese New Year in style. And, on February 17th from 10am to 4pm, right in the garden grounds, visitors can check out the Year of the Snake Temple Fair, featuring entertainers, traditional Chinese games, noodle-making demonstrations, live music, arts and crafts for kids and much, much more.

As well, the HSBC Chinese Lunar New Year Gala is happening on February 11th at the Bell Performing Arts Centre! Famous Chinese music director Jin Zhang will lead a 100-voice choir offering “Beautiful Flowers and Full Moon”. Other famous Chinese musicians and artists will provide wonderful performances throughout the show, which  includes dancing, singing, and musical instrument playing. Before the show, the White Rock and South Surrey Chinese Society will provide a free New Year dinner to the guests and audience, which will start at 4:30pm.

Tour the International Buddhist Temple in Richmond

Richmond BC Buddhist Temple
Photo Credit: Vera Devera

One of the Lower Mainland’s most famous landmarks is the International Buddhist Temple at 9160 Steveston Highway (between No. 3 and No. 4 Roads). While guided tours can be scheduled any time of the year, this remarkable place is featuring special Chinese New Year festivities from February 6-10th in its Meditation Hall.

At the specially-created bazaar, visitors can check out beautiful flower arrangements, calligraphy demonstrations, traditional snacks and foods, various cultural gift items and more. And, at 10pm on Chinese New Year’s Eve (February 9th), the temple’s Abbot, the Venerable Guan Cheng, will lead a chant and group prayer to bless all sentient beings. For a cultural extravaganza with a spiritual flavor, this is one event that’s not to be missed!

Chinese New Year Food Finds

Ken's Chinese Restaurant | Kingsway, Vancouver
Photo Credit: Rick Chung via Flickr

If you’re heading to the Chinese New Year celebrations in Vancouver, there’s no shortage of great Asian restaurants steps away from where the action is happening in Chinatown! Beef and broccoli in spicy sauce, Wonton soup and BBQ pork, BBQ duck, sweet and sour chicken, and all your favorites are on the menu — pick pretty well any direction and you’ll find an authentic Chinese New Year feast. From the Jade Seafood Restaurant‘s amazing and exotic dishes to the authentic and elegant Kirin Restaurant to the charming and utterly authentic Peaceful Restaurant – you can’t go wrong!

If you’re heading to Richmond for the celebrations, definitely check out our review of the Great Eats in Richmond’s Golden Village — from Chinese and Thai cuisine to Malaysian, Indian and Japanese food, you’re going to find some amazing meals (and we suggest you don’t just wait around until Chinese New Year to make it happen). A whole world of great food is easy to find.

What Chinese New Year event are you most looking forward to?