How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Calgary
The Year of the Dog is here. Celebrate by watching a lion dance, listening to traditional Chinese music or attending a festive dinner.
[This article has been updated to reflect Chinese New Year 2018.]
Chinese New Year is a 15-day festival that celebrates the arrival of the new lunar year. This year, New Year’s Day is on February 16.
Even if you’ve never celebrated before, you can enjoy the holiday this year. Here’s what you should know, including cultural information and events you can attend to celebrate it in the city.
The 12-year zodiac cycle
Depending on whether you’re celebrating Korean, Japanese, Chinese or Vietnamese lunar new year, traditions alter slightly. For all though, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. People born in the Year of the Dog are said to be conservative and loyal.
Last year was the Year of the Rooster and 2019 will be the Year of the Pig.
The colour red
In Chinese culture, red is the colour of happiness, good luck and joy. While it’s lucky all year, the colour is especially prominent now in order to welcome in a lucky new lunar year.
Also traditional at this time of year is giving children and unmarried young people red packets – known as “hong bao” in Mandarin – filled with money. The packets symbolize good luck. Traditionally, fresh bank notes are given in order to symbolize new beginnings. The money is given in even amounts, as even numbers represent well-roundedness. Avoid $4 – the number four is considered inauspicious and is similar to the word “death” in dialects across China – and opt instead for $8. Eight is a lucky number.
Things to do
Dates: February 10 to 18
This is probably the city’s biggest Chinese New Year celebration. On February 10, the opening festivities include martial art demonstrations, performances, a market with 50 booths and lion dances. Celebrations will also take place here on February 11, 17 and 18, so you can still experience the holiday even if you missed the festival kick-off.
Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, 197 1 St. S.W., culturalcentre.ca
Date: Saturday, February 10
This cultural and fundraising event begins at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails. The Chinese dinner starts at 7:15 p.m., which is followed by a dance and live band at 9 p.m. Tickets are $98 per person. The dress code for the event is either traditional Chinese attire or formal.
Regency Palace Seafood Restaurant, 328 Centre St. S.E., sienlok.org
Date: Friday, February 16 to Sunday, February 18
The Core shopping centre is holding its own Chinese New Year celebrations from February 16 to 18. There will be a performance by Chinese lion dancers, a musical performance by the Calgary Chinese Cultural Society Orchestra, a tea pop-up and more.
The Core, 324 8 Ave. S.W., 403-441-4940, coreshopping.ca
Date: February 16 to March 2
Get your fill of Chinese food at Two Penny’s Chinese New Years dinner banquet. From February 16 to March 2, you can get dishes like Shanghai noodles, ling cod soup, crispy chicken, dim sum, gai lan, manadarin merengue tarts and more. The dinner is $45 per person. The restaurant will also be gifting red envelopes with special prizes inside to each diner. Most of the prizes are small, but one larger prize will be given out each day (think gift cards, tickets to a Flames game, a manicure and more).
1213 1 St. S.W., 403-474-7766, twopenny.ca
Date: Saturday, February 17
Listen to the Calgary Chinese Orchestra, pianist Everett Hopfner, flutist Jiajia Li and spinto soprano Shana Yang at this night dedicated to Chinese music. During this evening performance, strings and bamboo instruments will be used to perform traditional Chinese music. There will also be newer music by three different Chinese composers.
Arts Commons, 205 8 Ave. S.E., artscommons.ca
Date: Wednesday, February 21
The Chinatown District Business Improvement Area presents this cultural and business event that includes a traditional, 10-course Chinese dinner, a silent auction, performances, networking opportunities and more. You’ll also get to learn more about the pandas that are coming to the Calgary Zoo this spring. The dress code is either business wear or traditional Chinese attire. Tickets are between $68 and $88 per person.
Silver Dragon Restaurant, 106 3 Ave. S.E., chinatowncalgary.com