Usher in the Year of the Horse in NYC
Fireworks, food and fun will take over the city at the celebration for the 2014 Lunar New Year -- the Year of the Horse -- which gallops into the city Friday.
Asian-American groups predict the festivities, which run through Feb. 14, will draw huge crowds from all over the world to the city.
Chinatown will hold its 15th annual New Year parade, which starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday and other boroughs will celebrate as well. Sunset Park's parade will take place on Sunday at 1 p.m. and the Asian-American community in Flushing will have its celebrations beginning at 10 a.m. on Feb. 8.
Yim Chan, the English secretary of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, said his organization will be hosting its own events in Chinatown on Friday.
There, tourists and visitors can see the traditional customs in action, including line dancing and the dragon dance.
"And it's not just limited to Chinatown residents," Chan said. "Everyone who wants to can celebrate. We are going to make a lot of noise -- a lot of young people will be active."
The Lunar New Year is so widely celebrated in the city that Queens lawmakers Rep. Grace Meng and state Sen. Daniel Squadron have called to make the first day an official school holiday, an idea Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have openly supported.
According to Chinese tradition, the New Year celebration originates from an old tale in which a mythical beast, called Nian, terrorized Chinese villagers. The villagers wore red, played loud noises and lit firecrackers to scare the monster away. They also prepared an abundance of food in the hopes that Nian would be satiated by the food and stay away from them.
This evolved into the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated around the world in many Asian countries, including China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Throughout the holiday, traditions include dining, performing customary dances, firework displays and exchanging red envelopes that contain money, all in the name of good fortune.
The zodiac symbol of The Horse symbolizes intelligence, warmth, energy and ability, according to the Confucius Institute at Pace University.
Here are some Chinese New Year events happening across the city:
15th New Year Firecracker Ceremony
Intended to ward off evil spirits, this popular firecracker display will kick off the Year of the Horse with a dazzling pyrotechnic show and large stage featuring cultural performances from singers and dancers. Jan. 31. from 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at Roosevelt Park, Grand and Hester Streets.
Korean Jazz Quartet
Young Joo Song, one of Korea's top Jazz Pianists, will be performing at the Flushing Town Hall. A winner of "Best Jazz Album," and "Best Jazz Performance" at the Korea Music Awards, Song's performance will not disappoint. Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. at Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard in Queens; $15, $10 for members and students.
Turntables on the Hudson
Partygoers can jump in on the Chinese Lunar New Year action when DJ Nickodemus spins his Lunar New Year Mix. Jan. 31 at 10 p.m. at The303 at Louie and Chan, 303 Broome Street; $10 per ticket.
Pok Pok NY and Xi'an Famous Food Prefix Dinner
Enjoy a five-course meal in this exciting collaboration of two of New York's trendiest Asian food destinations. Jan. 31 at 6 and 9 p.m., Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. at Pok Pok Suan, 127 Columbia Street in Brooklyn; $150 per person (includes food, drinks and tax), shop.pokpoksom.com
Lunar New Year at the Queens Zoo
The zoo celebrates the Year of the Horse with plenty of family friendly activities such as dragon mask and lantern making, a scavenger hunt, and horse encounters. Feb. 1-2 at 11 a.m. at the Queens Zoo, 53-51 111th Street; $8 adults, $5 children, $6 seniors, free for children under 3.
Chinatown's Lunar New Year Parade and Festival
Cultural dancing, floats, acrobats and tons of other performers will lead this vibrant parade throughout Chinatown's colorful streets. Feb. 2. from 1-3 p.m., starting at Mott and Hester Streets.
Lunar New Year Celebration
A special performance by the renowned and colorful United Nations Singers will be accompanied by Chinese hip hop, martial arts, and a lion dance. These world famous performers will grace Pace University's stage at this cultural exchange. Feb, 2. from 1-3 p.m. at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, 3 Spruce Street; free.
New York Chinese Chorus
In addition to featuring this talented troupe of singers, the Botanical Garden will also be hosting an afternoon of craft activities. Feb. 8. from 1-4 p.m. at the Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street; $4 adults, $3 seniors, $2 students and children over 3.
Flushing's Lunar New Year Parade
Thousands of people march alongside dragon dancers and fireworks during this parade in one of Queens' most concentrated capitals of culture. Feb 8. at 10 a.m. starting at Union Street and 37th Avenue in Queens.
Chinese New Year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sesame Street Puppeteers, Tibetan dancers and the China Youth Orchestra will perform. Also check out calligraphy demonstrations and family friendly events such as crown making, paper folding and gallery hunts. Feb 8. from noon-5:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue; $25 (recommended), free for children under 12.