7 Ways to Kick Off the Lunar New Year Around the World

Share

From age‑old rituals to lively street festivals, here’s how to mark the occasion – and make good on your “travel more” resolution.

This story was originally published in December 2019 and was updated in January 2022.

For cultures following the lunar calendar, the new year doesn’t start until the first new moon – a date that shifts from year to year. The Lunar New Year in 2022 is on February 1, with some celebrations continuing for weeks following. Here are the best places in Asia (and around the world) to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. 

Where are the best places in Asia to celebrate the Lunar New Year?

Start 2022 on a lucky note in Hanoi. For Tết (Vietnamese New Year), Hanoians queue at the Temple of Literature and ask calligraphers to paint paper scrolls with an auspicious word. Dating back to 1070, the picturesque site was once home to the Imperial Academy, Vietnam’s first national university, and students still pray here for top marks.

Related: Take a Trip to Shanghai at Home

January 20, 2022
An older man writes in ink on a large piece of paper in Hanoi at the Temple of Literature
A Chinese calligraphy artist in Nuanquan.   Photo: Dukas Presseagentur/Alamy

Watch sparks fly in Nuanquan, China. To celebrate the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, local blacksmiths‑turned‑folk‑artists create a pyrotechnic spectacle by throwing molten iron – heated up to 1,600 degrees Celsius – at a frozen wall. Held in Tree Flower Square, the 500‑year‑old ritual is known as Da Shuhua.

Local blacksmiths throw molten iron at a frozen wall in Nuanquan, China
Celebrate the Year of the Tiger in the Philippines.   Photo: Imaginechina Limited/Alamy

Visit the world’s oldest Chinatown in the Philippines. Head to the Binondo quarter in Manila and do as the locals do: The Buddhist community flocks to Seng Guan Temple for New Year’s prayers and incense burning.

Related: Missing Travel? Where to Go First Based on Your Zodiac Sign

A group of boys in costume walking around with a dragon in the Philippines' Chinatown
Lunar New Year celebrations in Malaysia.   Photo: Bernice Beltran/NurPhoto via Getty Images

See the bright lights at Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam, Malaysia. The sprawling 19th‑century site is one of Southeast Asia’s largest Buddhist temples, and each Lunar New Year, it’s decked out for the occasion with thousands of lanterns and multicoloured lights.

What are the best places outside of Asia to celebrate the Lunar New Year?

Feel the festive beat in Canada. One of the highlights of this year's LunarFest celebrations – which takes place in both Vancouver and the GTA – is illustrator Jeni Chen's storytelling workshop (where you'll get to make a puppet representing your Chinese zodiac animal). Other highlights include a lantern light display (both cities have collaborated with Indigenous artists) and a virtual ballet performance.

Join the massive crowd in London, U.K. The British capital claims the title of the biggest Chinese New Year bash outside Asia, with a family‑friendly parade, dragon dancing and traditional street food drawing hundreds of thousands to the city’s West End.

Related: London's 10 Best Neighbourhood Pubs to Grab a Pint In

Two dragons, red and yellow, dance on the streets in Sydney
Street performers in Sydney, Australia.   Photo: Destination NSW

Hit the Lunar Lanes street party in Sydney, Australia. Live performances include Chinese lion dancing, Korean drumming and Japanese hip hop. And new in 2022: A tiger mask‑making workshop. The annual Sydney Lunar Festival, kicks off January 29 with dozens of events spanning two weeks (there are more than 80 events over 16 days).

Make sure to check government entry requirements before you travel.