10 Best Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Lunar New Year in Chicago (2023)

This weekend marks the beginning of an important holiday and annual tradition in Chinese culture known as Lunar New Year. On Sunday, January 22nd, the Chinese zodiac signs transition from the Year of the Tiger (2022) to the Year of the Rabbit (2022). New Year celebrations typically begin on New Year’s Eve (January 21st) and last for 16 days, culminating with the Lantern Festival on February 5th. Chinese communities worldwide will celebrate with red lanterns, traditional food, colorful floats, and dragon dances to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the new year. We’ve found the best family-friendly activities and Lunar New Year events in the city of Chicago to check out with young people!

Some Fun Facts about Lunar New Year:

  • Lunar New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, with people celebrating a new year, a fresh start, and planting season. People pray to the gods and ancestors for a fruitful harvest that year.
  • The belief is that an evil monster named Nian appears on the eve of Chinese New Year and loud noises, the color red, and fire will scare him away.
  • It’s tradition to give children a red packet with money to transfer good fortune from elders to the kids.
  • One of the most important Chinese New Year traditions is reuniting with family, so across the world family members will travel long distances to celebrate the holiday together.
  • While many know of Lunar New Year as Chinese New Year, it is actually celebrated by other Asian communities, including Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.
  • Every year has a zodiac animal, and people believe it can determine your health, career, and personality.

1. Lunar New Year Celebration at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago

January 21 1:00 pm | 5220 Fashion Outlets Way, Rosemont, IL 60018

The Fashion Outlets of Chicago begin their annual Chinese New Year celebration with a family-friendly event in the Food Court at 1:00 pm on January 21st. Shoppers can enjoy Chinese games and activities, and cultural performances featuring Kung-Fu, two-string violin, Chinese yo-yo, and a children’s choir!

From January 21st-February 5th, guests can stop by Concierge Services on Level One, near Saks Fifth Avenue, and receive a special red envelope featuring a free Saving Pass and special Lunar New Year offers and services from participating retailers,

2.. Chinese New Year Celebration at the Chinese American Museum of Chicago

January 21 2:00 pm-4:00 pm | 238 W 23rd St, Chicago, IL 60616

Don’t miss the celebration at the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, on January 21st. Kids under 7 can attend for free if accompanied by a ticket-paying adult. There will be festive décor, musical performances, traditional cuisine, and more. This is a local event that will be fun for the whole family!

3. Traditional Lion Dance at the Peninsula Hotel

January 21 3:00 pm | 108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611

Head to the Peninsula Chicago’s front entrance to see a Traditional Lion Dance to scare away the evil spirits for the new year. The lion troupe will make its way its way through the main 5th-floor lobby, weaving through the tables in The Lobby restaurant during Afternoon Tea at 3:15 pm. Children are invited to “feed” lettuce to the lion, representing good luck for the coming year!

4. Chinese New Year Celebration at the Field Museum

January 22 1:30 pm | 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605

Celebrate the start of the Lunar New Year at the Field museum with traditional music, lion dances, and interactive arts.

  • Saturday, January 21, 1:30-1:50 pm and 2:10-2:30 pm; Kids can enjoy musical performances by Ruan and Hide
  • Sunday, January 22 All Day lantern-making activities

Free with admission to Field Museum 

5. DePaul Lunar New Year Gala

January 22 3:00 pm-5:00 pm | 2250 N. Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Head to this family-friendly event put on by DePaul University. They will have Lunar New Year performances, traditional food, and lots of fun activities for kids. If you want to take public transportation, they are located right off the Fullerton Brown/Red Line stop.

  • 2:30-3:00 PM Check-in
  • 3:00- 3:10PM Lion Dance Performance
  • 3:10-3:15PM Welcoming Remarks (DePaul President Manuel)
  • 3:15-4:00PM Cultural Performances
  • 4:00-5:00PM New Year Food & Cultural Activities

6. Global Connections: Lunar New Year at Navy Pier

January 28 1:00 pm-5:00 pm | 840 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

The Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier will be transformed into a festive celebration with bright lights, live performances, a traditional dragon, and food vendors.

Featured performances by Flying Fairies, Yin He Dance, Tuvergen Band, PACF Performing Arts, Sama Sama, Thai Cultural Fine Arts, Korean Performing Arts Institute and more! Additional K Pop performances by Chemical X, Prism Kru, Helixx Crew and much more!

7. Argyle Lunar New Year Celebration

January 28 12:00 pm-4:00 pm | Argyle & Winthrop

Join Uptown United and 48th ward Alderman Harry Osterman for the annual Lunar New Year Parade. Kickoff begins at 1:00 pm on Argyle Street and Winthrop Avenue. There will be 20+ local community groups, cultural institutions, dancers, and performers! 

*REROUTE NOTICE: The parade is being rerouted this year due to CTA construction. The parade will kick-off at Argyle & Winthrop, head west on Argyle, north on Broadway, east on Winona, and south on Sheridan back to Argyle. The parade will NOT be proceeding down Ainslie this year.*

8. Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown

January 29 1:00 pm-3:00 pm | 2200 S Wentworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

There’s no better place to celebrate Chinese New Year in Chicago than in Chicago’s Chinatown. The annual Chinese New Year parade begins at the intersection of 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue. There will be lion dancing teams, colorful floats, and marching bands.

9. Lantern Festival Celebration at the Chicago Cultural Center

February 5 12:00 pm-4:00 pm | 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

Close out the Spring Festival as the Chicago Cultural Center is transformed into a lively Chinese marketplace featuring festive customs, a lion dance, live music, dance, food, calligraphy, puppets, a selfie booth, trinkets, and more. You can find the perfect gift to commemorate the Year of the Rabbit here!

Free Admission 

dumplings in a bamboo steamer

10. Chinatown Food & Culture Walking Tour

Various Times on Weekends | 2131 S Archer Ave, Chicago

A great way to introduce kids to the food and culture of China is with a Chinatown walking tour that is totally kid friendly. Kids will get to sample Chinese delicacies while exploring the vibrant neighborhood of Chinatown. The beauty of this option is that it occurs most weekends, so if you can’t make it over Lunar New Year, you can do it another time.

Happy New Year!

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