6 Ways to Celebrate the Year of the Horse

We have our very own Chinatown located at the historic east end of downtown (have you seen the Friendship Arch, yet?), so it’s no wonder Chinese New Year is a huge deal in the D.C. area—and it’s amazingly fun. Each year is dedicated to a certain animal and 2014 just so happens to be the Year of the Horse (shout out to babies born in 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, and 2002!). Saddle up to any one of these local festivities, including a parade in Chinatown, Chinese Dragon Dances, and live musical performances. And, Xin nian kuai le! (that’s Happy New Year in Mandarin).

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Falls Church Chinese New Year Festival
Virginia dwellers can ring in the Chinese New Year at this action-packed Falls Church Festival held at the Luther Jackson Middle School.  The festival features a number of live traditional performances, Asian foods to nosh on, children’s crafts, calligraphy, and the kid favorite dragon parade. This is an all day event, so come for a couple of hours or hang out longer.

When:  Feb. 1, 10 am – 6 pm
Cost: Free
Where: Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Rd. (Falls Church, Va)
Online:  chinesenewyearfestival.org

Chinese New Year Story-Time at Silver Spring Public Library
Be sure to check your local library branch for Chinese New Year activities and celebrations. The Silver Spring branch will offer story-time for tots 3–6 years old and another for kids 6–10 years old. Your little ones will learn about the Year of the Horse and the Chinese New Year through interactive stories, songs, and games. They will also be able to find their Chinese Zodiac sign and make a good luck lantern to take home.

When: Jan. 28, 10:30 am (ages 3-6); Jan. 29, 4:30 pm (ages 6-10)
Cost: Free
Where: Silver Spring Public Library, 8901 Colesville Rd (Silver Spring, Md)
Online:  montgomerycountymd.gov/library

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Chinese New Year at Zengo Restaurant
February is the month to eat Chinese food, and many downtown restaurants will offer specials in celebration of the Chinese New Year. You can’t go wrong on the streets of Chinatown with inexpensive, authentic fare, but there’s also the fancier—yet still family-friendly—options, such as 7th Street’s popular Zengo, which will feature brunch specials on top of its bottomless brunch menu, with all-you-can-eat ceviche and sushi, salad, dim sum, and more.

When: Feb. 1-2, and Feb. 8-9
Where: 781 Seventh St., NW (Chinatown)
Online: richardsandoval.com

Fair Oaks Lunar New Year Festival
Sponsored and produced by the Washington Hai Hua Community Center, Virginia’s Fair Oaks Lunar New Year Celebration claims to be the biggest in the area (and we believe them!). The festival features traditional Chinese dragon dances, music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, children’s crafts, and a special lantern festival. Hundreds of performers representing China, Japan, Korea, India, Thailand, Vietnam and more will hit the stage.

When: Feb. 1-2
Cost: Free
Where:  11750 Fair Oaks Mall (Fairfax, Va)
Online: shopfairoaksmall.com

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Chinese New Year Parade and Festival
Enjoy marching bands, traditional costumes, decorated Chinese dragons, lions, and mythical beasts, along with a host of other colorful characters. You’ll also see a fabulous team of kids twirling diablols (a kind of Chinese yo-yo). Stop by the Chinatown Community Cultural Center (at 616 H. St., NW) for live music and dance, children’s crafts, face painting and kung fu demonstrations. The Wong People and students of Yu Ying Public Charter School will give a special performance. You can also hear Chinese poetry readings, watch Chinese films, and check out a few cool art exhibits. The kids will love getting free Chinese New Year souvenirs to take home.

When: Feb. 2, 2 pm-4:30 pm
Cost: Free
Where:  H St., NW between 6th and 8th Sts. (Chinatown)
Online: ccccdc.org

Rockville Lunar New Year Parade and Street Festival
If you live out in Montgomery or P.G County, you don’t have to venture all the way to Chinatown in D.C. to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  Marylanders can ring it in at the Rockville Parade and Street Festival. Bundle up and enjoy an outdoor Asian street market, complete with live music. VisArts will open its studio doors so you can view gallery exhibits, many of which will offer children’s craft workshops. Stop by the Montgomery County Executive Office Building at 101 Monroe St. to see live performances from the Child Beijin Opera, the Fairfax Chinese Dance Troupe and the Korean Drum Team of Spark Matsunaga.

When:  Feb 1, 10:30 am-3 pm
Cost: Free
Where: Rockville Town Square, 200 East Middle Ln. (Rockville)
Online: rockvilletownsquare.com

How do you plan to ring in the year of the horse? Tell us in the comments section below. 

—Jamy Bond

Photos courtesy of Fristle via Flickr, Zengo DC via Facebook, Chinese New Year Festival Organization