Seattle's Child

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Lunar New Year Seattle

Wear red for luck during Lunar New Year celebrations (In this impage red is the dress code at Classical Chinese Garden in West Seattle). Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

How to celebrate Lunar New Year in the Seattle area

Events and crafts to ring in the Year of the Dragon

The bubbly’s been popped, the confetti swept up, so why are we still talking about New Year’s?

That’s because the Lunar New Year begins Feb. 10. It’s the year’s main event in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, and any place with a sizeable Asian diaspora — like Seattle.

Earlier this month, Rep. My-Linh Thai, D-Bellevue, introduced a measure establishing Lunar New Year as a legislatively recognized holiday in Washington state. “This legislation is a powerful testament to the fortitude and invaluable contributions of the Asian American community,” Thai, a Vietnamese refugee, told Seattle’s Child.

Lunar New Year Seattle and the Mak Fai lion dance on Seattle waterfront

Mak Fai lion dance on Seattle waterfront. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

A global celebration

For the billions of people who celebrate the Lunar New Year globally, this holiday is so important it’s basically equivalent to Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter rolled into one. Unlike watching the ball drop in Times Square, the Lunar New Year celebration goes on for 15 whole days. Its hallmarks are family gatherings and tons of food, with an emphasis on good fortune and prosperity. Every kid’s favorite part of the holiday is receiving red envelopes stuffed with cash.

The holiday’s start date moves around, typically falling in late January or early February, because it’s tied to the new moon.

2024 is the Year of the Dragon, the only supernatural creature in the 12-animal zodiac. Babies born this year and anyone turning 12, 24, 48, or any multiple of 12 are all dragons. Personality traits associated with dragons include strength, confidence and ambition.

Lunar New Year Seattle

Homemade dumplings for Lunar New Year. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Three easy ways to celebrate

  • Even if you didn’t grow up with Lunar New Year traditions, you can participate simply by wearing something red, the color of luck.
  • Deep clean the house to get the new year off to a fresh start.
  • Families feast on dishes symbolizing abundance: whole fish, oranges, sticky rice cake, and dumplings. We have directions for making your dumplings here, but there’s no shame in buying premade. Our recs: MìLà is a Bellevue-based food counter that also does mail orders; the frozen dumplings at Trader Joe’s aren’t bad in a pinch.
Lunar new year seattle

Dragun puppet. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Make a dragon puppet

Here’s a cute Year of the Dragon craft appropriate for preschool and up. You’ll need a paper lunch bag, construction paper, scissors, markers, and a glue stick.

  1. Cut out shapes for the dragon’s eyes, nose, mouth, and whiskers from construction paper. We went with the classic Lunar New Year color scheme, red and yellow.
  2. Glue dragon parts onto the paper bag.
  3. Use markers to draw scales on the dragon’s body.
  4. Cut a fringe along the bottom of the bag.

Your dragon is ready to play!

Lunar New Year Seattle

Mak Fai lion dance at Asian Art Museum. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Local events to check out

These community events are open to the public — everyone is welcome.

Weather protected with ample free parking: 

Bellevue Square, Saturday, Feb. 3, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., free

Bell Square is our top choice when the weather isn’t so great. Look for non-stop live cultural performances at the center court. You’ll want to put kids on your shoulders for the best viewpoint. There are wonderful kids’ crafts at the adjacent tables, and you’ll need to bring your patience for the long lines.

Most family-friendly:

Seattle Center Tết in Seattle, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 3 and 4, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, free

For the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration, there will be food vendors, live performances, lion dances, art exhibits, hands-on kids activities, the works! In addition, there will be a health fair with free screenings and services. Seattle Center is so kid-friendly that Tết in Seattle makes a great day for the entire family.

Most beautiful setting:

Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, Saturday, Feb. 3, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Programming is free with suggested museum admission

Enjoy storytimes, drop-in art activities, a lion dance, and more family-friendly activities. We love pairing an art experience with a park outing. Be warned that the Fuller Garden Court will be packed. Tickets to the lion dance will be distributed at the entrance on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lunar New Year Seattle. Hing Hay park in Seattle's CID

Hing Hay park in Seattle’s CID. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Most authentic:

Seattle’s Chinatown International District, Saturday, Feb. 24, free

There will be vendor booths along South King Street, a food walk (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and performances in Hing Hay Park. The neighborhood’s atmosphere and energy here feel most like the celebrations in Asia.

If you don’t want to drive far, let them come to you:

Mak Fai Kung Fu Dragon and Lion Dance Association, various dates and times, free 

Mak Fai is super busy this time of year, bringing lion dances to a whole slew of venues across the greater Seattle area. Check out their Instagram or Facebook for a list of public performances.

Down south:

On Saturday, February 10, Westfield Southcenter will host a free Lunar New Year celebration from 11 am-1 p.m. Join the community and local organizations, including representative My-Linh Thai and the Office of the Tukwila Mayor to ring in the Year of the Dragon with a wishing tree dedication, lion dance performances, ribbon dancing, traditional calligraphy demonstrations, a stunning 25-foot custom-built dragon, cherry blossom trees, lanterns, and a moon gate!

Read more:

Docent tips: How to visit a museum with a child

The Definitive Guide to Inside Activities With Kids: Seattle

10 easy art projects with an animal theme

About the Author

JiaYing Grygiel

JiaYing Grygiel is a photographer and writer in Seattle. Find her on Instagram @photoj.seattle and at photoj.net.