7 Chicago events to ring in Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year occurs on Feb. 16, 2018, and marks the arrival of the Year of the Dog. Babies born in the Year of the Dog are said to be communicative, loyal and responsible. 

Often called Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year is actually celebrated in many countries around the world, as well as right here in Chicago. Here are some of the colorful family-friendly events taking place in the weeks ahead.

Chinese New Year Kickoff Celebration

Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, Chicago

Feb. 16, 12-1 p.m.


Chinese Fine Arts Society celebrates its 34th year with this event highlighting music, dance, mask changing, acrobatic feats and martial arts. Attendees are encouraged to wear red for good fortune!

Chinese New Year Concert

Symphony Center, Michigan Ave., Chicago

Feb. 17, 3 p.m.

Tickets start at $20

This celebration of the Year of the Dog is a party for both the ears and the eyes. The Chinese music selections include traditional Chinese opera pieces by the Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre and folk melodies played by Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra. Colorful costumes and acrobatic choreography are dazzling. Pre-concert performances for those with tickets to the event begin at 1:45 p.m. in Buntrock Hall and give kids a chance to see the musicians up close.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Fashion Outlets of Chicago, 5220 Fashion Outlets Way, Rosemont

Feb. 18, 1-3:30 p.m.


Families will enjoy cultural performances along with games and hands-on activities such as calligraphy, lantern making and mask making, presented by Huaxing Arts Group. Performances include traditional Chinese dances and Kung Fu presentations.

Argyle Street Lunar New Year Parade

Argyle Street between Broadway and Sheridan, Chicago

Feb. 24, 1-2:30 p.m.


From colorful lion dances to firecrackers, this is a feast for the senses in the Uptown neighborhood. Celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Dog at this North Side parade that begins at the Argyle Red Line stop. 

Chinese New Year Celebration

Navy Pier Grand Ballroom, 840 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

Feb. 24, 1-5 p.m.


If an indoor celebration is more your family’s speed (and temperature), there are activities for all ages at this event. The Grand Ballroom transforms into a marketplace. The Cheng Da Drum Team and the Eight Tones Chinese Music Ensemble will perform, as will the Flying Fairies dance troupe and lion dancers.

Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade

Parade begins at Wentworth & 24th Ave., Chinatown, Chicago

Feb. 25, 1-3 p.m.


Chicago has one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and tens of thousands flock to it for this large parade. See dragon dances, marching bands, festive floats and more. A special addition this year is Dogs on Parade — more than two dozen pups will be joining in to mark the arrival of the Year of the Dog. (Read more about a fun family day in Chinatown here.)

Chinese New Year Lantern Celebration 

Art Institute of Chicago, 159 E. Monroe St., and Maggie Daley Park, Chicago

March 3, 1-7 p.m.

Free, museum portion is included with admission to museum, which is free for kids 13 and under

The final celebration of the Lunar New Year season promises to be a memorable one. Activities take place at the Art Institute of Chicago during the day, and be sure to check out the newly opened Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and Their Bronzes exhibit and the festive food and drink offerings at the café. Families can create lanterns and when the Art Institute closes at 5 p.m., join a Lion Dance-led lantern procession across the pedestrian bridge from Millennium Park to Maggie Daley Park, where performances will take place on both the skating ribbon and in the Fieldhouse.

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