While the Gregorian calendar begins each year on January 1, the Chinese New Year falls this year on Feb. 8. It’s the 4713th Chinese Year, which marks the Year of the Monkey. The monkey represents the ninth animal in the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs.
Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year in other Asian countries) will be celebrated throughout Southern California. The first big event is Monterey Park’s free Lunar New Year Festival (on Garvey Avenue between Ramona and Alhambra avenues; www.happychineseyear.com) Jan. 30-31. Downtown Monterey Park will be filled with performances, a carnival fun zone, food vendors and other holiday-related activities.
The USC Pacific Asia Museum (46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena; www.pacificasiamuseum.org) hosts its sixth annual free Lunar New Year Festival from 1-5 p.m. Feb. 7. It will showcase Asian arts and cultures through performances, workshops and family-friendly entertainment. Feb. 7 is also the day that the Bowers Museum (2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana; www.bowers.org) will have a Chinese New Year theme for its monthly free family festival from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Golden Dragon Parade (www.lagoldendragonparade.com) and the accompanying New Year’s festival return to downtown L.A. for the 117th year from noon-8 p.m. Feb. 13. The colorful parade goes from Hill Avenue and Ord Street to Broadway and Cesar Chavez Avenue from 1-3 p.m. The family-friendly festival (943-951 N. Broadway), which runs all day long, offers a fine array of artisans, performances, gourmet food trucks and live music.
Out in the San Gabriel Valley, the Alhambra Lunar New Year Festival (Valley Boulevard between Garfield and Almansor avenues, Alhambra; www.alhambranewyearfestival.com) also occurs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 13. This free community event features a dragon boat rowing station, children’s workshops, kung fu demonstrations, lion dances and other cultural activities.
The Huntington Library (1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino; www.huntington.org) throws a weekend-long Chinese New Year Celebration from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Feb. 20-21. Lion Dancers, martial arts demonstrations, mask-changing performances, music and calligraphy demonstrations are all part of the festivities. Admission is $25 adults, $21 ages 12-18, $10 ages 4-11.
The Norton Simon’s (411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; www.nortonsimon.org) February Family Day from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 6 will salute the Year of the Monkey in its own way. After observing the monkeys in Henri Rousseau’s Exotic Landscape, visitors can make a paper-bag monkey puppet or another animal puppet of their choosing for an admission fee of just $12 for ages 19 and up. There will be more Year of the Monkey-themed craftmaking at the Zimmer Children’s Museum (6505 Wilshire Blvd., 100, L.A.; www.zimmermuseum.org) from 2-4 p.m. Feb. 7, where kids can also enjoy a special Lion Dance performance. Admission is $7, free for children under 1.