10 places to celebrate Lunar New Year in Southern California

New Year’s Eve has come and gone, but the Lunar New Year is almost upon us and it’s one of the most important celebrations in many Asian cultures.

This year marks the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac and the Lunar New Year begins on Sunday, January 22.

To welcome the Year of the Rabbit, here are 10 events where people can celebrate.

Now in its 45th year, the L.A. Chinatown Firecracker includes a Lunar New Year run, walk, cycling and dog walk events on Feb.18-19 at the Los Angeles Chinatown Plaza. In addition to the race, the weekend includes a Lunar New Year Celebration in the heart of historic Chinatown with an opening ceremony filled with lion dancers and the traditional lighting of 100,000 firecrackers. (Photo Jonathan Friolo)

The Riverside Lunar Festival, a celebration of the lunar new year, returns Jan. 28-29 to downtown Riverside. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

The Lunar New Year celebrations return to Disney California Adventure Jan. 20 through Feb. 15. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Disney California Adventure

Disneyland Resort, 1313 S. Harbor Blvd,. Anaheim. disneyland.disney.go.com.

Commemorate the Year of the Rabbit at Disney California Adventure with Lunar New Year events happening from Jan. 20 through Feb. 15 that highlight Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese traditions. The celebrations will include things like Chinese calligraphy demonstrations, “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession” and food offerings from six festival marketplace food kiosks. Admission to the park is required.

Flower Street in Garden Grove

12987 Main Street, Garden Grove. ggcity.org/events/flower-street-historic-main-street.

Garden Grove’s Historic Main Street, the city’s old school shopping center, will get a flowery makeover with the inaugural Flower Street event in honor of the Lunar New Year. Aside from the elaborate flower installations, the free event will include lion dances, musical performances and lots of vendors from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Jan. 21-22.

Golden Dragon Lunar New Year Parade

943 North Broadway, Los Angeles. culturela.org.

Thousands are expected to line the parade route between Broadway and Hill Street for the 124th annual Golden Dragon Parade. The free event takes place starting at 1 p.m. Jan. 28 and includes lion dancers, marching bands, dance troupes, music groups and others marching down the route. It’s organized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles.

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L.A. Chinatown Firecracker

Los Angeles Chinatown Plaza, 943 N. Broadway, Los Angeles. firecracker10k.org.

The L.A. Chinatown Firecracker has been going on for 45 years and it’s one of the largest and oldest-running races in the country. It includes the Lunar New Year run, walk, cycling and dog walk events happening on Feb.18-19 at the Los Angeles Chinatown Plaza. In addition to the race, the weekend includes a Lunar New Year Celebration in Chinatown with an opening ceremony consisting of lion dancers and the traditional lighting of 100,000 firecrackers. The Firecracker post-race weekend expo includes vendors and booths as well as the Chalk Art Festival and Boba Garden. The events start at 8 a.m. each day.

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens

5333 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles. lazoo.org.

The Zoo is celebrating Lunar New Year in conjunction with its L.A. Zoo Lights event, and this weekend is the last chance to catch the festivities with nightly shows Jan. 20-22. The Lunar New Year celebrations start at 6:30 p.m. with a dragon dance parade followed by Chinese dancers plus a Wushu Warriors show and other performances throughout the night. And the Cafe Vietnam and Rice Balls of Fire food trucks will be parked at the Treetops Terrace serving Asian dishes to visitors. Admission to the zoo is required.

Lunar New Year Celebration at South Coast Botanic Garden

26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula. southcoastbotanicgarden.org.

For the first time, the South Coast Botanic Garden is hosting a Lunar New Year Celebration Jan. 28-29. The weekend will include cultural dancers, drummers, martial arts demonstrations, calligraphy demonstrations and other activities from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. each day. Admission to the park is required.

Lunar New Year Festivities at Pretend City Children’s Museum

29 Hubble, Irvine. pretendcity.org.

This one caters more for young kids as Pretend City Children’s Museum celebrates the Year of the Rabbit Jan. 21-22 with art activities where they can learn to make lanterns and Asian calligraphy. There will also be musical performances, dancers and drummers. The events start at 11 a.m. each day. Museum admission required.

Rancho Cucamonga Lunar Festival

Rancho Cucamonga Sports Center, 8303 Rochester Ave., Rancho Cucamonga. pananaevents.com/ranchocucamongalunarfestival.

The Jan. 21-22 celebration starts with an opening ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Saturday that will include Taiko drummers, lion and dragon dancers and Shaolin kung fu demonstrations. There will also be a lot of live music and cultural performances starting at 11 a.m. each day, plus there will be food and a marketplace selling artisan goods. The event is free.

Riverside Lunar Festival

Downtown Riverside, 3527-3573 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside. pananaevents.com/riverside-lunar-festival.

This will be one of the biggest events around with thousands expected to attend the Jan. 28-29 festival, which kicks off with an opening ceremony on Mission Inn Avenue starting at noon on Saturday. There will be Taiko drummers, lion and dragon dance performances, live acts on stage both days and a marketplace plus a fun-zone for kids with inflatable rides, including an obstacle course and 20-foot-tall rock wall climbing wall. The event is free.

Santa Monica Place Lunar New Year Celebration

Santa Monica Place Center Plaza, 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica. santamonicaplace.com.

The Center Plaza at Santa Monica place will become the center of Lunar Year celebrations with a performance by traditional Chinese lion dancers from 2-5 p.m. Jan. 28. This will be a good place to bring the kids since there will be balloon and dough artists on hand and cherry blossom wishing trees, where people can hang their wishes for the new year.  It’ll be a good place for photos, too, since the plaza will be decorated with red and gold lanterns.

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