Looking for a way to break up the long winter months with your little monkeys? The Chinese New Year, complete with plenty of festivities, is just around the corner. This year is not just the year of the Monkey; it’s the year of the Red Fire Monkey. Which sounds to us like a fantastic reason to pull on some bright red clothes and head out in search of dancing and celebration. Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year, as it is sometimes called) is officially one week long, starting this year on February 7. But some places in our area start the party early. Here are a few festivities to check out over the next few weeks.

4383764417_d09a89652a_zPhoto: Photo Phiend via Flickr

Chinese New Year Family Festival
A week before the holiday officially begins; the American Art Museum will open its doors and welcome the year of the monkey with fun crafts and traditional performances and demonstrations. The event is free and perfect for families of all kinds.

When: Saturday, Jan. 30, 11:30 am-3 pm
Cost: free
American Art Museum
8th and F Sts., NW
Online: americanart.si.edu

Arts for Families
The day before Chinese New Year’s Eve, head over to Foggy Bottom for a festival with an art theme. From a fashion show of Chinese dress to a calligraphy demonstration, there will be plenty to see. And little ones will get to create their own dragon puppets to take home.

When: Saturday, Feb. 6, 11 am-3pm
Cost: free
The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum
701 21st St., NW
Online: museum.gwu.edu

Chinese New Year Family Day Activities
Kids of all ages can celebrate at the Kennedy Center with paper cutting lessons, Beijing Opera stage makeup demonstrations and dressing up in traditional costume.

When: Saturday, Feb. 6 11 am–4:30 pm
Cost: free
Kennedy Center
2700 F St., NW
Online: kennedy-center.org

Lunar New Year Celebration
If you’re looking to explore beyond fashion and art for your Chinese New Year celebration, head to the Sackler Gallery to learn about everything from ribbon-dancing to calligraphy and come away with masks, Lunar New Year resolutions and photo-booth photos.

When: Saturday, Feb. 6, 11 am–4 pm
Cost: free
Where: The Sackler Gallery
Online: asia.si.edu

Chinese New Year Parade
The Chinese New Year Parade will take over Chinatown on the last day of the holiday (and, coincidentally, Valentines Day).

When: Feb. 14, 2 am–4:30 pm
Cost: free
Where: Chinatown
Online: facebook.com/DC-Chinese-New-Years-Parade 

Celebrate Chinese New Year at Fair Oaks Mall
Head to the mall for dances and performances, demonstrations, arts and crafts and see the mall transformed with dragons and lanterns.

When: Feb. 6 and 7, 1 – 5
Cost: free
Where: Fair Oaks Mall
Online: shopfairoaksmall.com

Lunar New Year
Celebrate with performances, traditional displays and samples of Asian cuisine.

When: Feb. 13, 10am
Cost: free
Where: F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater, Rockville
Online: rockvillemd.gov

How do you plan to celebrate the Year of the Monkey?

—Tricia Mirchandani