How to spend your Lunar New Year in Los Angeles

by Jing Feng

Step into the heart of Los Angeles, where the vibrant tapestry of cultures converges to usher in a symphony of red lanterns, dragon dances and the jubilant spirit of renewal. As the cityscape transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors, the Lunar New Year emerges as a radiant celebration, weaving traditions from East to West. In this bustling metropolis, where diversity thrives, the Lunar New Year festivities in LA promise an immersive journey into a world where ancient customs meet modern exuberance. Get ready to embark on an exhilarating exploration of the myriad of ways the City of Angels embraces the dawn of the Lunar New Year — a dazzling spectacle that transcends cultural boundaries and beckons all to join in its revelry.

Chinese Restaurant Hunt

Journeying to the east side of the city leads you to a culinary haven for Asian food enthusiasts: San Gabriel. Positioned as one of the largest ethnoburbs in LA, San Gabriel offers a profound sense of community for those distanced from their homelands and an exhilarating gastronomic adventure for all. Your drive will unveil numerous restaurants, from hotpot, dim sum and home-style stir-fry to bakeries and boba brands with roots in China. A short distance away, you’ll find Arcadia, another locale where one can savor the flavors of the East. If you are still wondering what to get on the first day of the lunar calendar, right after an exhausting midterm week, go on a Chinese restaurant hunt and feel the decorated, colorful vibe of the new year.

Festival Activities

If you enjoy vibrant, bustling atmospheres filled with laughter, visit the Santa Monica Pier for their commemoration of the Year of the Dragon on Feb. 17. The central plaza will be decorated with red and gold lanterns, where you are able to take photos and enjoy the vibrant, colorful vibe of a traditional New Year. Other than that, you can take a look at the traditional lion dance performance, get a snack from Chinese traditional dough artists and even do crafts with friends. Admission is free, so why not give it a try?

Traditional Performances

Particularly in China, families come together on the last day of the passing year to watch the annual Spring Festival Gala. This tradition not only strengthens family bonds but also provides an opportunity for reflection on the memories — both good and bad — of the past year while expressing hopes for a better beginning in the new year. If you’re searching for a similar experience in LA, UCLA’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association, or CSSA, is organizing a ceremony in Royce Hall this year, offering students a delightful and entertaining event. Featuring traditional dances, skits and interactive segments, this year’s gala is sure to be an intriguing and unforgettable experience! Alternatively, you can commute to Chinatown and enjoy the lively vibe of the new year with Asian markets, community events and fun activities. Moreover, UCLA’s Association of Chinese Americans, or ACA, Lion Dance group is performing on New Year’s Day, Feb. 10, at Cayton Children’s Museum in Santa Monica. As our friends from school bring a lively parade to the museum, you can also join the festivity and celebrate together.

Whether embarking on a Chinese restaurant adventure in San Gabriel, exploring festival activities at Santa Monica or enjoying traditional performances at CSSA’s gala in Royce Hall, there are festivities full of customs and vibrancy for all. As the echoes of this dazzling spectacle fade, we carry with us the spirit of renewal and shared prosperity, eagerly awaiting the next chapter of celebration in LA.

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy New Year!

Illustration by Kimberly Fernandez Suratos/BruinLife.

Illustration by Kimberly Fernandez Suratos/BruinLife.

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