The first day of the Lunar Chinese New Year is Monday, Jan. 23, marking the beginning of the Year of the Dragon. The holiday is the most important in China and will be met with scores of fireworks and festivities in China, Taiwan, and Chinese communities around the world.

In China, families clean their home, hang red banners with messages of good luck, pay respects to ancestors and begin to plan and prepare meals for Jan. 23. Many families will cover their homes with red paper lanterns and decorations signifying good fortune, wealth, longevity and happiness.

In addition, paintings and decorations of dragons cover Chinese cities in celebration of the New Year. Dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore. Chinese dragons are auspicious creatures that symbolize power, strength and good luck. Historically, dragons were the symbol of the Emperor of China and the mythical creature is seen as a symbol of imperial power. In the Chinese zodiac system, dragon years are the most popular years for families to have children and more babies are born in dragon years than in any other year.

Cities across the U.S. will also celebrate the 2012 Chinese New Year. Take a look at the biggest parades, festivals and events that will ring in the Lunar New Year in Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.


Chinese New Year will be celebrated with a parade for the Year of the Dragon on Jan. 29 in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood. In addition, a number of restaurants will celebrate the Lunar New Year with a dining tour and special menus. For more details, take a look at the schedule of events.

Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, the Year of the Dragon will be celebrated with an all-day festival and parade, featuring dances, martial arts, Chinese acrobats and more. Las Vegas casinos will also ring in the New Year with elaborate decorations, special dinner menus and festive cocktails.

Los Angeles

On Jan. 28 and Jan. 29, Los Angeles will ring in the Lunar New Year with the 113th Golden Dragon Parade and a Chinese New Year Festival. In addition, during the Chinese New Year period, The Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour will give Los Angeles natives the opportunity to explore the history, restaurants and shopping in Chinatown. Some restaurants in Los Angeles will also have a special Chinese New Year menu on Jan. 23. For more details, take a look at the schedule of events.

New York

In New York City, Asian Americans will embrace the New Year with a Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival in Roosevelt Park in Chinatown on Jan. 23, where over 600,000 firecrackers will ward off evil spirits. On Jan. 29, the New York Chinese Cultural Center will present an indoor family cultural day at the World Financial Center. Celebrating the year of the dragon will continue with the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival on Jan. 29 in Roosevelt Park in Chinatown and a similar parade on Feb. 4 in Flushing, Queens. The Elisa Contemporary Art Pop-up Gallery is also hosting a new exhibit from Jan. 6 to Mar. 31 called Enter the Dragon, which features the work of Amy Cheng and Mimi Chen Ting. For more details, take a look at the schedule of events.

San Francisco

In San Francisco, a city rich in Chinese food and culture, the New Year will be honored with a 5k and 10k run on Feb. 19 and a parade celebration at the San Francisco Zoo on Jan. 29. The city will also host an enormous nighttime parade on Feb. 11. It is one of the biggest Chinese New Year parades outside of Asia and will feature floats, elaborate costumes, lions, firecrackers, a smiling Miss Chinatown U.S.A and a 250 inch golden dragon. For more details, take a look at the schedule of events.


For Seattle residents the Chinese New Year festivities will begin on Jan. 28 at the Chinatown-International District in Hing Hay Park. The event will include cultural activities for children, Lion and Dragon dances, Taiko drumming, martial arts and a Children's Parade contest. Seattle will also host a the 2nd Annual Lunar New Year Food Walk with a $2 Tasting Menu on Jan. 28. For more details, take a look at the schedule of events. For more details, take a look at the schedule of events.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. will host a major Chinese New Year Parade on Jan. 29 through the city's Chinatown neighborhood. On Feb. 3, a special exhibit, Dragons, Nagas, and Creatures of the Deep, will also be held at the Textile Museum. For more details, take a look at the schedule of events.