The Lunar New Year marks the first day of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, which typically falls in late January or early February. Several East and Southeast Asian countries mark Lunar New Year with various cultural events and activities, but you don’t need to fly halfway around the world to join the celebration.
Read on to learn more about the annual Lunar New Year celebrations in Portland, all of which are open to the public.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is traditionally a 15-day celebration that includes wearing the lucky color red, paying respects to ancestors and cleaning the house to drive away bad luck. Festive menus feature foods like dumplings, cakes and long noodles for long life. Other traditions include lucky papers with good wishes, money-stuffed red envelopes and firecrackers to frighten off the mythical Nian.
Chinese New Year Cultural Fair
Presented by the Portland Chinese Times, the Chinese New Year Cultural Fair draws thousands of attendees. Kick off this annual event at the Oregon Convention Center by snacking on free samples from local Chinese restaurants. Next, enjoy live music, martial arts, Chinese folk dances, dragon and lion dances and other family-friendly cultural performances. Visitors of all ages can enjoy hands-on activities like face painting, calligraphy and arts and crafts presented by local Chinese language schools.
Chinese New Year at Lan Su Garden
Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden offers a two-week celebration of the Chinese New Year. The fun includes lion dances, family crafts, Chinese folk art, calligraphy, martial arts performances and a Chinese wishing tree. On the festival’s first day, every visitor receives a lucky hong bao (red envelope) as part of the traditional event.
Chinese New Year Lantern Viewing
Inspired by the Lantern Festival, or Yuan Xian Jie, as part of Chinese New Year traditions, Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden welcomes in the new year with the traditional Chinese New Year Lantern Viewing. Each of the various Chinese lanterns has its own set of meanings, but generally speaking, they all signify a wish for a better and brighter future.
Chinese New Year Lion Dance
Beginning in China over 2,000 years ago, the Chinese New Year Lion Dance is a traditional dance performed to ward off evil and bring good fortune. Chinese New Year starts with a traditional performance at the entrance of Lan Su Chinese Garden, welcoming everyone to join in the new year celebrations.
In partnership with the Oregon Historical Society, the Portland Chinatown Museum celebrates the holiday with lion dancers and performers and the yearly Lunar New Year Dragon Dance Parade that winds its way through Old Town, Downtown, and up to the Oregon Historical Society Park Plaza.
Lunar New Year Celebrations
The Chinese Friendship Association of Portland (CFAP) commemorates the new year with a yearly Lunar New Year Celebration. Bringing together multiple Asian communities to the Keller Auditorium, this celebration includes stunning performances by acrobatics, professional singing stars and ballet performances. With calligraphy exhibits, craft workshops and art and craft activities, the whole family will enjoy welcoming in The Year of the Rabbit.
The annual Lunar New Year Celebration at the Washington Square Mall honors the Wishing Tree Tradition. Shoppers are invited to make a wish on a red ribbon and toss it at the wishing tree in hopes that it will stick and their wish will come true in the coming year. The day-long celebration includes traditional dances, Chinese Folktale storytelling, musical performances and puppet shows.
Explore local history at the Portland Chinatown Museum before visiting other neighborhood mainstays.
This Southeast Portland neighborhood is a bustling cultural hub, home to a population largely composed of immigrants and people of color. Eat and explore in one of the city's most diverse communities.
Connect with the city's historic and vital Chinese American community.
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