Ringing in the Year of the Monkey!
If you’re considering travelling in February but don’t want to miss out on the Chinese New Year celebrations, you needn’t fret. Thanks to the vibrant Chinese diaspora, you can celebrate in almost any part of the world, while picking up a new tradition or two in the process. 2016 is the Year of the Monkey – the quick-witted, flexible and lively animal of the Chinese zodiac. So why not take a leaf out of the Monkey’s book and do some clever last-minute travel planning to spend Chinese New Year on 8 February abroad? The travel experts at KAYAK.com.hk have put together a wrap up of some less than typical, but oh so delightful destinations to get festive, Monkey style!
There are around 1.6 million Chinese people living in Canada, so you’re guaranteed to find an abundance of Chinese New Year cheer wherever you are in this expansive country. Head to Vancouver, where you’ll find one of the largest Chinatowns in this part of the world. The annual parade alone has more than 3,000 participants and attracts an audience of more than 50,000 people. Alongside the parade you’ll find exhibits, live performances and an endless supply of Chinese dumplings. A relatively new addition to the scene, is Lunarfest, which started as part of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2009. Lunarfest works in collaboration with local Asian artisans to celebrate ancient and modern Chinese traditions through dance, music, craft, fortune telling and much more. Chinese New Year may not be a national holiday in Canada, but the city is truly immersed in the spirit of the event, with many Chinese businesses closing early, or not opening at all.
Manchester, United Kingdom
While Chinese New Year celebrations in London may be the second biggest in scale outside China, Manchester puts on its own dazzling display and is well worth a visit. This city is already renowned for culture, music and the arts, and ushering in of the Year of the Monkey will be no exception. The dragon parade may be the centre of the festivities, but the Chinese food market, stunning light shows and film projections, and live music and art make for a scintillating all-round experience. From one side of the city to the other, the streets will come to life from 4 – 8 February. An integral event is the parade, starting at Albert Square on 7 February, before winding its way to Chinatown where performances will light up the main stage in the lead up to the spectacular fireworks finale at 6pm. Traditional red lanterns flood the laneways, creating a welcoming warmth in this otherwise wintery time of year.
New York, United States
In New York, the Chinese community takes New Year celebrations to the street, and locals and visitors get right on board. Enthusiasts cram into Sara D. Roosevelt Park for the Firecracker Ceremony on 8 February, which adds a definite bang to the two weeks of festivities, with more than 600,000 firecrackers lighting up the heavens. Generally, the first priority for participants is to cause as much commotion as possible, using gunpowder-filled bamboo sticks in an attempt to ward off evil spirits. Overall, half a million people turn out to watch the parade floats, dancers and decorative dragons weaving a joyful line through Chinatown and Little Italy. Take a pit stop or two along the way at one of the many authentic Chinese food spots and keep your energy up to enjoy the Lunar Festival in its entirety.
Melbourne has an extensive Chinese community and the Chinatown neighbourhood buzzes with activity all-year-round. Come Chinese New Year, the anticipation is palpable, and festivities run for a full two weeks. The public spectacles kick off with fireworks, food and animated dragon dances in Federation Square on 6 and 7 February. See the Australian perspective on Chinese culture via ACMI’s programme of exhibitions, films and talks, then get a bird’s-eye view of the fireworks with a visit to the Eureka Skydeck 88. Kids and adults alike will enjoy a trip to Melbourne Zoo, where you can join the VIP experience of meeting the Squirrel Monkeys, as part of the zoo’s tribute to the Year of the Monkey.
Perhaps not the most obvious destination for Chinese New Year, but thanks in part to a long-running partnership with Beijing, Helsinki provides an authentic and exciting atmosphere for the Lunar celebrations. In fact, the cities jointly host a cultural programme of events at Helsinki’s Lasipalatsi square each year, including dragons, dance, lions and dynamic kung fu displays. The coinciding festivities in Beijing are streamed live on a big screen in Helsinki so revellers across the world can share the experience. A vibrant Chinese market, jam-packed with food stalls, good fortune and traditional lanterns, tops off the Chinese New Year festival.
Still haven’t made up your mind on where to go? KAYAK.com.hk recommends creating your own Price Alerts to monitor flight or hotel prices to make sure you don’t miss out on a deal. You can also check out Explore to discover new destinations within your budget.
Wherever you are when you welcome the Year of the Monkey, make it the start of a year to remember!
*Prices displayed are based on searches conducted on 11 January 2016 and are based on a round trip economy fare for travel from 4th – 11th February 2016. Hotel prices are for double occupancy per room per night. Prices are subject to change, availability may be limited or offers may no longer be available.