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Celebrating the Lunar New Year in Manhattan

Chinese New Year New York City

Happy Lunar New Year, friends! We didn’t do much more than make stir fry this year to celebrate, but in the past we have made the trek down to Chinatown for Chinese New Year in Manhattan, for their awesome Firecracker Ceremony and Lunar New Year Parade. They’re both amazing cultural events with a lot going on (and a lot of people, which I can only take so much of). These festivals are also a photographer’s dream, as there’s so much color and a bit of craziness.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

My kids loved visiting Chinatown in Manhattan for Lunar New Year – we explored all kinds of shops, ate incredible food, and spent a good deal of our day just watching people. Here’s a bit about our experience – in photos, of course.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

Chinatown, Manhattan – New York City

Chinatown is located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It’s home to the largest population of Chinese in the Western Hemisphere, with an estimated 100,000 people calling this neighborhood home. It’s a lively place no matter when you choose to visit, but Lunar New Year in Manhattan is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnival in Venice. Be prepared for some excitement!

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

Getting to Chinatown in New York City:

We chose to drive into Manhattan and use a Chinatown garage for parking, but you can certainly take the D or B subway line to Grand Street. 

The Firecracker Ceremony in Chinatown, Manhattan

This is a formal New Year’s Day ceremony and cultural event in Sarah D. Roosevelt Park, complete with drumming and dances, a parade through the streets, and lion dancers all over. The festival always takes place on New Year’s Day, starting at around 11 am and running late into the afternoon. Although there’s always a crowd, it’s a great event for children. Here are some tips for attending.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

  • Be prepared for noise and smoke. Strings of firecrackers are ignited to kick off the ceremony.
  • Dress warm. This is really important. We did a lot of standing around, and you just never know what the weather will be like in February.
  • Make dining reservations. Many restaurants are closed on New Year’s Day, and the one’s that open are a bit of a mob scene, so be sure to plan ahead. As an alternative, there are awesome places to eat outside of Chinatown, but still within walking distance on the Lower East Side.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

The Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown, New York City

Unlike the Firecracker Ceremony, the Lunar New Year Parade is held on a different day each year, usually the weekend after New Year’s Day. This awesome spectacle features, floats, magicians, lion dancers, dragon dancers, acrobats, and musicians totaling more than 5,000 people. The parade begins in the afternoon and winds its way through Chinatown (Mott Street, East Broadway, and Division Street). Afterwards, head to Roosevelt Park to visit the food vendors (our favorite part), plus check out the lineup of performances by martial artists, dancers, and musicians.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Manhattan

Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan

A trip to the big city is a great way to break up a long winter — at least for us, and while February is kind of grey and dreary in New York City, this is definitely the most colorful event of the season.

Have you been to a traditional Lunar New Year Celebration in America? Tell us more in the comments!

I’d love to connect with you on Pintrest. If you loved this post, please share!

Have you ever celebrated the Lunar New Year in New York City? Here's why this is a great event for families and well worth traveling to.



  1. Wow, I can only imagine how fun it would be to ring in the Lunar New Year in Manhattan’s Chinatown. These pictures looks so colorful and fabulous, I’ll need to experience a proper Lunar New Year one of these days!
    Mimi Rose recently posted…A Historic Retreat in Montana: 320 Guest RanchMy Profile

  2. Wow! Great shots! That looks great and something I would really enjoy. I want to experience a Chinese New Year in Chinese country, but this looks just as great and unique in its own way.

    Btw, I’ve never seen a McDonald’s in China look even remotely like the one in your shot. 😀 I love it!
    Trekking with Becky recently posted…Photo Friday: Leeds CastleMy Profile

  3. Most of my Lunar New Year celebrations have been pretty quiet, so it’s fun to read about your experience with colors, firecrackers and city life. I love your photos of local people in traditional clothing and dragon costumes. Looks like a fun experience and great opportunity to enjoy this celebration!
    Brooke of Passport Couture recently posted…Valentine’s Day Around the WorldMy Profile

  4. We didn’t do anything this year for the Lunar Year either. The weather has been good. so, we decided to hit the beach. I am sure Manhattan is a great place to celebrate the festivities. Chinatown in there is one of my favorite places to visit when I am in New York.
    Ruth recently posted…La Jolla in PhotosMy Profile

  5. Definitely have to put this on my list of places to go and celebrate. The pic with the man in the mask is really great.
    Heidi’s Wanderings recently posted…Tamarind Shrimp WrapMy Profile

  6. Ow wow – that looks like an amazing time! So colorful!
    Thanks for sharing at

  7. It would be amazing to experience this! I am enthralled by different cultures, and events like this are always such a spectacle!

  8. Chinatown is my favorite place to visit when I’m in NYC, but I’ve never timed my trip to coincide with the New Year celebrations. Looks like so much fun, your photos are gorgeous & it easily transports the reader right to the parade!

  9. How fun!! I’ve never seen a celebration like it. I bet that would be a cool experience!
    The Southern Thing recently posted…Why I Don’t Blog for Free and Neither Should YouMy Profile

  10. Love the photos! So vibrant. I would love to be able to join this celebration one year.

  11. Suzette

    You touched my heart with these photos. My DD lives in SoHo and loves buying her dresses and slippers for parties in Chinatown. How fun, right? Thanks for the memories!

  12. What fun! I so miss living in New York.
    Maris (In Good Taste) recently posted…Quick JambalayaMy Profile

  13. Love the confetti photo here – it’s lovely!

    I miss NYC – and disliked China town when I was there (so stuffy) but it’s amazing because I’m sure it would be such an amazing place to be over the lunar new year.

    This is so cool! Glad you shared it!

  14. So fun! My oldest son and his wife live on the Upper West Side and watched the fireworks from their balcony. The pictures were amazing.
    linda spiker recently posted…15 Minute Beet and Citrus Salad CrostiniMy Profile

  15. How exciting! I would love to attend such a fun multicultural event with my kids! It’s too bad it’s a long commute from Oklahoma ha ha

  16. Soo jealous!! All we did was wear red and eat dumplings.

  17. That sounds like it would be so fun to see! I have never been to New York City.. someday!

  18. Looks awesome. I’ve been around a few Chinese New Year Celebration (San Francisco, Seattle – and Tet in Vietnam), it’d be interesting to see how they compare – though I don’t think anything in the US will compete with the 5 days of crazy celebration in Vietnam 🙂
    Hung Thai recently posted…Easy hike, amazing rewards – off the beaten path in Vancouver, BCMy Profile

    • Never celebrated outside of America, Hung Thai, but I imagine that it’s something to write home about! Thanks for stopping in.

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