Whether you call it the year of the ram, goat or sheep (in the Chinese zodiac this year is referred to by all those names, so pick your child’s favorite!), it’s time to celebrate the Lunar New Year. These are our favorite “kid” friendly celebrations; so herd them over to dine on dim sum, see traditional dragon dancers, cheer on Chinese acrobats, meet some furry friends and learn about Chinese culture.

Los Angeles Zoo

photo credit: Meghan Rose

A Zoodiac Lunar New Year Celebration
Join in a Lunar New Year celebration at the Zoo! Explore the connections between the new year and the animals of the Zodiac in this, the year of the sheep (or goat, or ram—all depending on what zoodiac calendar you’re looking at!)  with dragon dance parades and shows, Chinese Taiji Quan classes, Kung Fu shows and audience participation classes, lion dance parades and history/culture lecture, and a “Legend of the Dragon” show. Kids can enjoy making mini Chinese lanterns and a traditional Chinese New Year crafts project called upside-down Fu, which predicts luck, happiness, and prosperity in the immediate future.  Plus meet the animals of the “zoodiac.”

The Zoodiac celebration takes place February 21 & 22 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $14/child, $19/adult.

LA Zoo
5333 Zoo Dr., Griffith Park
Online: lazoo.com

chinatown new year

photo credit: juicyrai via flickr

Spend the Day In China Town
Celebrate the year of the Ram at the annual Chinatown Golden Dragon Parade featuring traditional dances that give the event its name. Watch as festive marching bands, traditional Chinese entertainers, and colorful floats make their way down Broadway Street in a celebration worthy of New Year complete with a firecracker finale. Last year’s event drew a huge crowd, so get there early to grab a seat with a good view.

After the parade, head down to the Chinese New Year Festival in Los Angeles’ historic Chinatown. Cooking demos, singing competitions, fruit and vegetable carvings, traditional story telling, and cultural workshops, are just some of the reasons to attend. Not to be missed are the Chinese acrobats and Lions dancers in the Central Plaza main stage. And the food! From traditional delicacies to food truck fare, there’s something for everyone. Thirsty parents take note: there is also a craft beer garden featuring local breweries pouring their favorite brew.

The New Year Festival takes place from noon-9 p.m. on February 21. The Golden Dragon Parade takes place at 1 p.m.  But if you can’t make the parade or the celebration today, there are other wonderful Chinatown celebrations, from a Firecracker Run, to a midnight welcoming ceremony (hey, if you’ve got newborns, you’re up anyway!) to tours and a scavenger hunt, so check the website for other activities.

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Good to know: Skip the parking nightmare and take the Metro Gold Line, hopping off at the Chinatown Station.

Chinatown Central & West Plazas
943-951 N. Broadway, Chinatown
Online: chinatownla.com

huntington chinese

photo credit:  Raul Ocampo via flickr

Head to the Huntington’s Beautiful Chinese Garden
Celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Huntington Garden’s newest garden, the Chinese Garden,  This is the perfect place to usher in the Year of the Ram. The two-day family event includes lion dancers (at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.), martial arts demonstrations, mask changing performances, traditional music, authentic Chinese cuisine, and more. And while you’re here don’t forget to swing by the beloved Children’s Garden with your kids (and definitely don’t forget a change of clothes, as they love to get wet in the misters).

The celebration takes place on February 21 & 22 from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and all activities are included with admission, which is $8/child and $23/adult on the weekends.

Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino
Online: huntington.org

mulan

photo credit: Loren Javier via flickr

Disneyland Lunar New Year Celebration
Make the drive to Disneyland’s California Adventure for a Lunar New Year’s celebration at the Happiest Place on Earth. See your favorite Disney characters decked out in traditional Chinese garb, traditional decorations through out the park and authentic music and dance performances. As a special treat, festive food and beverage options (think fresh baked almond cookies, dim sum, and ram themed goodies) are available for a limited time.

Good to know: The Disneyland Southern California pass is back!  So you can save a little money this year, if you plan on visiting the parks multiple times.

The Lunar New Year celebration takes place at Disneyland from February 19-22 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and all activities are included with general admission.

Disneyland’s California Adventure
1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim
Online:disneyland.disney.go.com

caligraphychinatown

photo credit: Derral Chen via flickr

Chinese New Year at Santa Monica Place
For Westsiders, Santa Monica is hosting three full days of fun and festivities to ring in the Year of the Ram. Be sure to check out the Chinese dragon and ribbon dancers, stilt walkers, children’s crafts, food tastings and a whole lot more. There’s a detailed list of events online that will really help plan your day.

The celebration takes place from February 21 & 22 from 1:30 p.m.-7 p.m.

Santa Monica Place
395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica
Online: santamonicaplace.com

What are you looking forward to in the Year of the Ram?  Tell us how you will be celebrating the Lunar New Year in the comment section below.

-Christina Fiedler