5 best spots to celebrate Chinese New Year in Asia
CHINESE NEW YEAR, Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, no matter the term used to describe the event, is the most important and grandest of all holidays in China. The celebration is just as significant outside the People’s Republic and is celebrated with near equal fervor, with colorful dances, plenty of food and even stunning firework displays.
The event is rooted in centuries-old customs and traditions full of food, lanterns, dragons, parades and sometimes, little red packets of cash – a symbol of staving off evil and welcoming good luck for the new year.
The vibrant red that dominates the Chinese New Year originates from townspeople warding off a mythical beast that supposedly ate cattle, crops and even humans. Once they realized the beast was afraid of red, they draped their homes and streets in it. Chinese firecrackers also become a symbol off scaring off the beast, although these days they are mainly lit for fun.
This year, the celebrations will begin on Feb 16, based on the ancient lunar calendar, dictated by the moon and stars. Other Asian countries also go by this calendar, so thankfully, no matter where you mind find yourself over this side of the world, there is bound to be a celebration nearby.
Here are five of the most spectacular Chinese New Year celebrations around Asia, each with their own style, unique local flavor, and collection of fantastic light shows and parades.
Nuanquan Town, Hebei province, China
This relatively small Chinese town of around 20,000 people often slips under the tourism radar – you won’t find it in many “must-see places in China” brochures. But the tight-knit community comes to life when its time to ring in the new year.
On the 15th day of the Spring Festival, this quiet town ignites all cylinders for a firework display so awe-inspiring, Unesco listed it as one of China’s great examples of intangible cultural heritage.
This isn’t your regular, light-the-fuse-and-run-away, type of display. The town’s blacksmith takes a break from shaping horseshoes and turns his hand to throwing molten iron at the city gates, known as the poor man’s fireworks. The falling iron creates a shower of golden drops, stunning to the eye and warming to the soul.
All over Sydney, Australia
From the town hall illuminated in super scarlet to the iconic Sydney Opera House lit up in brilliant red, Sydney certainly puts on a show for the Chinese New Year.
Other significant landmarks such as The Sydney Harbor Bridge will also be illuminated, so no chance of the beast creeping into the city during the celebrations.
Lanterns will line busy streets throughout the festival too, lighting the pathway to restaurants serving up traditional Chinese food and shops selling traditional decorations, so you can have your own mini celebrations at home.
In Singapore, people, cultures, traditions, and customs live harmoniously to create an ethnically diverse nation known the world over. But at the heart of all the different ethnicities is the Chinese community who form the majority of the island state at some 70 percent.
It’s no wonder, therefore, why Singaporeans take the Chinese New Year celebration so seriously when the time of year rolls around.
Red and gold fill the days in the run-up but the real fun really begins at the beginning of the Spring Festival with the Chingay Parade.
The procession once danced through the streets of Singapore, but thanks to its ever-growing crowds and advanced pyrotechnics, the parade can now be seen in the Formula One Pit Building in the Marina waterfront.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Much like Singapore, Malaysia offers a diverse range of cultures and traditions, which is illustrated through a variety of incredible cuisines, styles and national bank holidays that honor different religious, spiritual and political occasions from across Asia.
The best place to witness the colorful event here is at Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital. The six-tiered monolith is adorned with stunning decorations during the New Year. It is the ideal place for those who want to celebrate the start of the new year, but also don’t want to be swept away in noisy crowds.
Outside of China, Thailand might just hold the most extravagant new year celebrations. Already notorious for its party scene, Bangkok gets even more colorfully hectic around Chinese New Year.
At Thailand’s biggest Chinatown, located in central Bangkok, you can see numerous lion dances, try tantalizing Chinese street food and meet other revelers wanting to absorb the atmosphere as much as you.