Spectacular cities for Chinese New Year celebrations

Michele Koh Morollo
Y! Travel Journal

These destinations will be ushering in the Year of the Snake with pomp and style.

Join Chinese communities all over the world in February as they feast and make merry this Lunar New Year. Want the best of what the season has to offer? We suggest heading to one of these hotspots for a unique and lively line-up of activities.

Hong Kong
One highlight at this high-energy city is the flower fair, with biggest is held at Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island, where dozens of florists set up stalls from 4–9 February. They sell flowers like chrysanthemums, peonies and narcissus – popular with the locals who buy them for their homes, as the flowers symbolize good luck. 

Another must-see is the stunning fireworks display on 11 February, which will light up the skies above Victoria Harbour at 8pm. Be sure to secure a spot at the Avenue of Stars at the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront Promenade in Kowloon, or near the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island for the best vantage point.

Los Angeles, US
Its Chinatown is famous for the Golden Dragon Parade, a street procession of painted dragons, floats, lion dancers and marching bands that meander through North Broadway. With such a lively parade, it’s no wonder it draws a crowd of more than 100,000 people.

Celebrations kick off on the eve of Chinese New Year on 9 February. Attendees welcome the new year at Thien Hau Temple on Yale Street, where they will burn incense and make offerings to Chinese deities. Chinatown then rocks to life with live concerts, cultural workshops, beauty contests, and plenty of food and fun.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
The Vietnamese New Year – which also follows the Lunar calendar – is called Tet. Like the Chinese, the Vietnamese celebrate by spending time with family, dressing in auspicious colours of red or yellow, and feasting.

Visit Nguyen Hue Flower Street in District 1 to see giant flower installations created in the image of the year’s Chinese zodiac sign. Families with children will also enjoy the many Tet-themed displays at parks like Dam Sen and Suoi Tien.

There will be live shows too, like gong performances, dragon dances, juggling, puppetry, circus acts, singing and more outside the main entrances of hotels in the downtown area, such as Rex Hotel, Caravelle Hotel, Hotel Majestic and Palace Hotel. Catch the fireworks at the Saigon River Tunnel on midnight of 10 February.

London, UK
On 10 February, Trafalgar Square comes alive with an official Chinese New Year opening ceremony, followed by live acrobatics, lion and dragon dances, musical performances, and a parade that begins at the West End.

Shaftesbury Avenue will also have a stage for local community groups and schools to hold hip-hop performances, fashion shows and plays. The area around Gerrard Street in Soho will have food stalls and cultural exhibitions.

If you’re planning to have dinner in Chinatown, make sure you reserve a table in advance. Many Chinese restaurants will either be closed or be fully booked quite quickly. 

Sydney, Australia
In Sydney, visitors can treat themselves to Asian-themed food stalls, trinkets and gifts at the Chinese New Year Markets at Belmore Park from 8–10 February. The Chinatown area will also host art exhibitions, cooking and craft workshops, and dragon boat races at Darling Harbour.

On 17 February, Sydney also transforms into a magical wonderland of light and music with the Twilight Parade, a street procession of colourful floats with dragons, dancers, lanterns and fireworks.