Firecrackers, dragon dancers and glowing lanterns: kick off the Year of the Rabbit in style at the best places to celebrate Lunar New Year in 2023.
What better way to welcome the Year of the Rabbit than by hopping to some of the best Chinese New Year celebrations across the globe? From 21 January for 15 days, these events are a feast for the senses: unforgettable moments wrapped up in raucous street parties, vibrant parades, night skies streaked with fireworks, crashing symbols and red-headed dragons snaking across city roads.
We’ve rounded up the biggest and best celebrations across the world so you can revel in style.
This dynamic city brings in the Lunar New Year with a bang with its annual Chingay street parade at the F1 Pit Building on 3 and 4 February. The theme for 2023 is ‘Embrace Tomorrow’, which echoes the commitment the city nation has towards a brighter future. Expect colourful costumes, juggling acrobats, giant glowing lanterns and mammoth parade floats. Meanwhile, the crackles and pops of fireworks are barely audible over the crash and jangle of percussion-led music.
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Every Lunar New Year, Shanghai’s Yuyuan Gardens become aglow during the Chinese Lantern Festival. This year’s celebrations are kicking off on 26 December and run for 52 days, enabling more people than ever to revel in this magical tradition. Walk under amber lanterns strung across the streets in uniform rows, many of which contain a riddle to be solved. Sample sweet rice balls (tangyuan), interact with virtual reality embedded lanterns, watch dragon and lion dances, and release your own flying lanterns into the night sky along with a wish for the new year.
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The red dragon carves a path from Charing Cross Road across Trafalgar Square, home to the largest gathering of Chinese lions and dragons in Europe. The showstopping fun doesn’t end there: witness Chinese dancing, martial arts displays, Chinese pop music and the lions' eye-dotting ceremony. Feeling peckish? There are plenty of Chinese street food vendors serving up mouthwatering steamed dumplings, steamed stuffed buns and Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings). If you’re around Leicester Square, hit up the family zone for fun-filled arts and crafts, calligraphy lessons and performances.
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New York City
The city of New York transforms during the Lunar New Year festivities: the streets are awash in the signature fire-engine red, performers strut in stunning traditional outfits and firecrackers pop. Be sure to catch the famous parade that cuts across the Manhattan Bridge on 12 February. Between the lion dancing and firecrackers, head to Chinatown and enjoy a round of karaoke, try the cult-favourite sponge cake from Kam Hing Coffee Shop and dine at Nom Wah Tea Parlor, New York’s first dim sum house which opened in 1920.
Celebrate Lunar New Year in style at this iconic New York City five-star escape.
Be part of Sydney’s iconic backdrop during the Lunar Festival between 21 January to 5 February 2023. Watch the thrilling dragon boat races on Cockle Bay Wharf, walk under bright red Lunar Gateways which have been hand painted to replicate those traditional gateways found in South Korea, Vietnam and China, and watch the Lunar Spectacular Show for Japanese drumming, K-pop routines and Chinese folk dancing. Be sure to hit the streets of Haymarket where you’ll find DJs, market stalls, food trucks and talented performers.
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This vivacious Thai city knows how to throw a party, and its Lunar New Year festivities are no exception. Bangkok Chinatown is a treasure trove of dragon parades, firecrackers, acrobatic dancers and mouthwatering Chinese cuisine. Don your best red outfit and head out for yusheng, a delicacy only eaten around this time and shared with family and loved ones: this colourful raw fish salad is a Singaporean tradition and symbolises prosperity and dates to the Zhou dynasty (some 2,000 years ago). You can find this at select restaurants, including Pagoda at Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park.
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In Vietnam’s most charming town, the Lunar New Year – or Tet as it’s known by locals – is an extravagant affair. The new year is all about celebrating with family (preferably over a large, mouthwatering banquet) and starting afresh. If you’re in Hoi An during Tet, you’re sure to feel the palpable excitement in the air: parties will pique your interest, vibrant crimson decorations bedazzle the streets, and kitchen doors are flung open, their delicious aromas wafting across the town. Tributes to the kitchen gods and ancestors can be found everywhere; offerings of food, incense, and paper gifts are laid out in respect of the bountiful feasts for the new year’s celebration.
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In Hong Kong, flowers play a huge role in Lunar New Year celebrations. You’ll see the entire city blanketed in bouquets, while many gift their loved ones with Chinese sacred lilies or orchids for good luck and prosperity. Starting from 22 January 2023, the festivities last for a fortnight. Join the crowd to watch the parade make its way to Victoria Harbour – the colourful dragons, ornate floats, booming band and traditional Chinese dancers are a feast for the eyes. On the second night of celebrations, the night sky is split open with a dazzling fireworks display over Victoria Harbour.
For more inspiration on where to go in 2023, read Luxury Escapes’ Top Bucket-List Destinations for 2023.