Top Ways To Celebrate Lunar New Year In Philadelphia

February 8, 2013 7:00 AM

A view of the full moon as photographed on November 29, 2012 in Old Bethpage, New York. (Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is Sunday, Feb. 10. The holiday is one of the most important in Asian cultures, with the festival encompassing the first 15 days of the lunar month. Philadelphia’s Chinatown – the fourth largest in the nation – promises the ideal location to celebrate and learn more about the holiday and Asian heritage, but it’s not the only option this year. These are the best ways to celebrate Lunar New Year no matter where in the city you are.
Chinatown Celebrations
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
301 N 9th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 922-2156

Hours: Feb 15 – 5:30 p.m. / cocktails; 6:30 p.m. / dinner; 6:55 p.m. program

People cite all kinds of reasons to set off fireworks at Lunar New Year. Some say they awaken the dragon that brings the rains to nourish crops; others say the noise scares away evil spirits. And some people probably just think it’s fun. Whether you seek fireworks or dancing dragons, check out the celebrations in Chinatown starting at noon every Sunday of the first lunar month. To top it off, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation will celebrate the Year of the Snake at its annual banquet, which raises funds to support the work of the organization. The banquet itself is Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m., but any of the celebrations are a must-see.

Related: Culture & Cuisine In Chinatown

Chinese New Year Community Gala
Great Valley High School
225 N. Phoenixville Pike
Malvern, PA 19355

Hours: Feb. 10 – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The Main Line Chinese Culture Center holds this special event for families of all backgrounds every year. It offers everything from entertainment to games to food. The first part of the gala is a stage show from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in which local Chinese performance artists and students in the center’s Chinese language school perform. The second part of the event is the culture side, showcasing Chinese history, inventions, traditional toys and other important topics. The gala is the biggest of its kind in Philadelphia and attracted almost 1,000 people last year.

Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000

While the Penn Museum rang in the Year of the Snake last weekend at its Chinese New Year event as part of its World Culture Days series, the museum can teach quite a bit about Asian cultures. The third floor features the Chinese Rotunda, one of the largest unsupported masonry domes in the United States. The rotunda houses a collection of Chinese art that spans 4,000 years. Leading visitors to the rotunda are exhibits on Buddhist Asia and Japan as well.

Wok ‘N Walk Tour
Joseph Poon Chef Kitchen
1010 Cherry St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 928-9333

Hours: Through March 21 / Chinese New Year menu

The best way to learn Chinese culture and experience all Chinatown has to offer is a tour with Chef Joseph Poon that ends with a delicious Chinese meal. The three-hour trek takes visitors to a fortune cookie factory, the Chinese bookstore, a Chinese bakery, a Buddhist temple and the Asian market. There are also free gifts and other surprises for participants who listen carefully and can answer Poon’s questions throughout the event.

Related: Top Cooking Classes In Philadelphia

Free Library Of Philadelphia
Independence Branch
18 S 7th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 685-1633

Hours: Feb. 13 – 4:30 p.m; Feb. 20 – 12:30 p.m.

The library will help patrons welcome the new year with traditional Chinese folk dancers on two occasions. First, on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 4:30 p.m., the library will host the Pennsylvania Chinese Dance Club from the University of Pennsylvania. The following Wednesday, at 12:30 p.m., patrons may watch as students from Holy Redeemer Elementary School perform Chinese folk dances, including the Lion Dance. The Feb. 20 event will also include a reading of traditional Chinese folktales.

Samantha Sinclair is a freelance writer who lives in South Jersey. She has two boys who love “adventuring.” Her work can be found at