Chinese New Year is a holiday that is filled with sights and sounds that will charm your kids: dragons, lion dances, fireworks, parades, and colorful lanterns — not to mention huge feasts filled with tiny finger foods. Yes, Chinese New Year is a great way to learn about another culture and perhaps even explore a new Portland neighborhood to boot. Combat the blah Portland winter months with the bright and boisterous celebration of the Lunar New Year. We’ve found 10 fun ways to celebrate the Year of the Snake right in our own backyard.

Check out this list of ways to ring in the Year of the Snake. And 新年好 (Happy New Year!)

Mochitsuki
Experience traditions like mochi (rice)-pounding and ikebana (art of flower arrangement), learn how to make children’s bento box lunches, indulge in sumptuous Japanese food, and enjoy drumming by Portland Taiko and many other exciting performers!
January 26th. 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. All ages.

Year of the Snake at Portland Chinese Garden
This annual event includes lion and dragon dances each weekend day, martial arts demonstrations, dance and music performances, and more. The two-week celebration of Chinese culture and features daily special events.
February 10-24. 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. All ages.

Lantern Viewing at Lan Su Chinese Garden
A very special and memorable way to celebrate the Lunar New Year is with the lantern viewing at Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden (also above). Both nights, the entire garden is aglow with over 100 hanging lanterns and 200 floating lanterns, plus special performances by the Lion & Dragon Dance Team. The viewings last from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, but it’s well worth keeping little ones up late for.
February 22 – 24. Best for ages 5 and up. 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.

Dim Sum is Yum Yum
Celebrate Chinese New Year with a dim sum family feast. Kids love dim sum. Servers present a variety of foods in small portions that are served on rolling carts. The atmosphere is fun and family-focused. There are often huge fish tanks to entertain the kids. The service is fast and the food keeps coming. And there are so many options that even picky eaters will find something they like. Here is a guide to Portland’s Best Dim Sum Restaurants for Families.

Messy Monkeys: Chinese New Year
Relax and enjoy a cup of coffee while your child celebrates Chinese New Year by creating red and gold play dough that you can turn into snakes! You can also explore other fun Chinese art forms such as watercolor painting and creating your very own miniature lanterns.
February 8th, 10:00am – 12:00 pm. Ages 1-5.

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Chinese New Year Culture Fair
Back for the 14th year, the Chinese New Year Culture Fair features an entire day of cultural performances, including the lion dance and the highly skilled wushu demonstration. Attendees can enjoy the exciting shows, sample exotic delicacies from local Chinese restaurants, participate in crafts and other activities, and visit over 60 booths.
February 9th, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. All ages.

Explore Portland’s Old Town Chinatown
Portland’s Chinatown isn’t large but it is dense with rich experiences and hidden wonders. You can easily download a walking tour map online, and then follow it to find all 20 plaques, each with a fantastic quote. While you’re there, you can also stop by some other family-friendly Portland faves such as the Portland Saturday Market. Get more tips for Exploring Portland’s Chinatown with Children.

Red Fans for the Lunar New Year
A good luck tradition for the new year, making red fans is a fun, family-friendly activity. Join the Woodstock Library for a red fan-making workshop with local artists. The activity is appropriate for all-ages (with parental assistance for the younger ones!) and registration is required for this free event.
February 2nd, 3:00 pm, Kenton Library
February 3rd, 11:00, Troutdale Library
February 13th, 6:00 pm, Holgate Library
February 15th, 5:00 pm, Midland Library

Explore Portland’s Cargo Imports
A shopping gem for Portland families is the super cool Cargo Imports, located in the Pearl District of downtown. From amazing paper lanterns to foam lotus blossoms to unique art supplies and toys, a trip to Cargo Imports is worth an entire morning or afternoon of exploring.

Lakeshore Craft: Chinese New Year Dragon
Ring in the New Year by making a traditional dragon puppet at Lakeshore Crafts in Lake Oswego.
February 9th, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. Ages 3 and up.

How does your family celebrate the Chinese New Year in Portland? Do you have any traditions at home? Share with us in the comments section below!

— Cheyenne Terbrueggen