This February, get ready for an epic party in the streets as San Diego celebrates the Chinese New Year, a lively, multi-cultural event that lights up the city on February 8th, 2016. In the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac, each year relates to an animal, and this year, it’s all about the monkey, the most clever and charismatic of all the symbols. Here are a few local events celebrating the glorious wonders of San Diego’s Asian heritage.
Hosted every year by the San Diego Chinese Center, this annual street festival is a great way to introduce newcomers to Asian culture. With martial arts demos, folk dancing, and taiko drumming, the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District at Third Ave. and J. Street turns into a spectacular celebration that transforms the neighborhood. There will also be lots of Chinese food to sample and cultural displays, plus children’s crafts and a lantern parade. Come for the food, but stay for the lion dancing and dragon dance, the highlight of the festival.
The Chinese community might be partying down the street, but if you want to experience the best of Vietnamese heritage, they have their own New Years festival at the Mira Mesa Community Park. From Feb. 12 – 14, spectators can enjoy exotic thrills like lion dancing and authentic cuisine. You’ll also get to witness the crowning of Miss Vietnam of San Diego and travel back in time at the Cultural Village, a vibrant replica of the ancient Vietnamese culture.
If you’re already downtown for the New Years festivities, it would be worthwhile to stop in at the Chinese Historical Museum on Third Ave, that way you can get an up-close introduction to Chinese art and culture. Exhibits are always changing and you can expect to see some historic artifacts like rickshaws and authentic pottery from a dynasty in the days of old. The best part is the serene garden and koi pond situated in the back of the museum. Even better, visitors can take advantage of free admission on the day of the Chinese New Year festival.
Grab the youngsters and head to Barnard Elementary for their annual celebration of the Chinese New Year. On February 6th, 11-3pm, kids will be thrilled with lion dances and performances by Barnard students. There are also plenty of hands-on activities where kids can get messy with face painting and Asian style crafts. The festival is free but for a small fee, kids can hedge their bets at little carnival games and win some cool prizes.
New Year celebrations might be over, but the Chinese New Year is right around the corner, giving you a great excuse to ring in the Year of the Monkey, San Diego style.