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9 Ways to Celebrate the Chinese New Year in Washington, DC

@mill_burray - Chinatown Friendship Archway at night - Landmarks in Washington, DC

Honor the turn of the lunar calendar with these Chinese New Year activities and events in DC.

Chinese New Year, also known in modern Chinese as the “Spring Festival,” begins on Feb. 16. The nation's capital is rich with Chinese culture, so it’s no wonder that the city features numerous ways to celebrate the holiday. We’ve detailed events and activities in Washington, DC that can help you kick off the Year of the Dog just right.

Explore DC's Arts & Culture

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Chinese New Year celebrations at the Smithsonian American Art Museum - Ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Washington, DC

Chinese New Year Festival – Feb. 10
The Smithsonian American Art Museum honors the Lunar New Year with this free celebration held right in the center of Chinatown (make sure to check out the Friendship Archway along the way). The list of activities is long: traditional paper cutting, an art scavenger hunt, red paper lantern-making and panda crafts. Guest artists from Chengdu, China will perform traditional music, Sichuan opera and acrobatics.
11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. |  Free admission
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20004

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Lunar New Year celebration at Freer | Sackler Galleries - Ways to celebrate Chinese New Year in Washington, DC

Chinese New Year Celebration – Feb. 11
The recently reopened Freer|Sackler, known for the finest in Asian art, rings in the Year of the Dog with the fourth annual Chinese New Year celebration. The event will highlight the arts and culture of the Sichuan Province, home to giant pandas. There will also be live performances of opera, acrobatics and puppetry, chances to sample spicy dishes and write a letter to Bao Bao of the National Zoo, interactive cooking and art demos and the opportunity to view Chinese art exhibitions.
11 a.m. – 5 p.m. |  Free admission
The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

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Lunar New Year ice cream at Ice Cream Jubilee - Ice cream shop in Washington, DC

Lunar New Year Ice Cream Tastings at Ice Cream Jubilee  – Feb. 13-18
Join Ice Cream Jubilee for special tasting parties at its Navy Yard and 14th Street stores. In honor of the Lunar New Year, the local sensation is offering up tasting flights of six mini-scoops and a pint for you to take home. The flavor flight is Lunar New Year-themed, of course, featuring innovative flavors such as Matcha Green Tea, Thai Iced Tea, Kiwi Lemongrass, Citrus Sichuan Peppercorn and more.
Tickets
Ice Cream Jubilee Locations
301 Water Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
1407 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

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Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra performance - Ways to celebrate Chinese New Year in Washington, DC

Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra – Feb. 15
World-renowned artist and conductor Tan Dun returns to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to lead one of China’s most outstanding orchestras in celebration of the Lunar New Year, part of a full weekend of celebrations at one of DC’s most renowned venues. The program will include classics by Stravinsky, as well as works by Guan Xia and Tan Dun himself.
8 p.m. |  Tickets
Concert Hall at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566

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Millennium Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts - Free Family Friendly Things to Do in Washington, DC

Lunar New Year: Chengdu’s traditional folk music – Feb. 16
The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage hosts this free performance of the traditional folk music of Chengdu, China as part of its Chinese New Year celebrations. You’ll hear beautiful stringed instruments and ethereal bamboo flutes during this eclectic program. World-class artists from Chengdu will be doing the playing.
6 p.m. |  Free admission
Millennium Stage at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566

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Kennedy Center Family Day - Lunar New Year Celebration – Washington, DC

Kennedy Center Family Day: Lunar New Year Celebration – Feb. 17
The Kennedy Center welcomes you and your entire family to this free Lunar New Year party. Kids will love watching footage of and writing letters to Bao Bao. There will also be dress-up photo booth, where you can turn into a panda or don a Chinese costume, as well as live performances of folk dancing, shadow puppetry and acrobatics. You will also be able to learn paper umbrella coloring, paper cutting, block printing and Sichuan embroidery and watch masters of calligraphy, sugar painting and bamboo weaving at work.
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. |  Free admission
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566

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Chinese New Year celebration at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts - Ways to celebrate the lunar new year in Washington, DC

Lunar New Year: Sichuan Opera – Feb. 17
On the same day of the Kennedy Center’s major Chinese New Year celebration, the Millennium Stage hosts Sichuan opera. During this free performance, you’ll witness the opera’s famous mask-changing technique, which alters a character’s emotion on the fly. You’ll also see incredible acrobatics and dance during this unique show.
6 p.m. |  Free admission
Millennium Stage at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566

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Band under Chinatown Archway during Chinese New Year Parade - Chinese New Year events in Washington, DC

DC Chinese New Year’s Parade – Feb. 18
This annual parade in Gallery Place is one of DC’s signature Chinese New Year celebrations. With dozens of entries, this year’s parade promises to be the largest and most diverse yet. Expect Chinese folk dancers, beauty queens, firecrackers, kung fu demonstrations, floats (including lions and dragons) and plenty of pageantry as the procession winds through Chinatown.
2 p.m. |  Free admission
Meet at Gallery Place Metro Station

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Washington Wizards Basketball Game at Capital One Arena - Professional Basketball in Washington, DC

Washington Wizards vs. Charlotte Hornets – Feb. 23
The hometown Wizards will take on the Charlotte Hornets in the heart of Chinatown at Capital One Arena, rocking special jerseys in honor of Chinese New Year. The celebration will feature talent all over the court, as the Wizards look to John Wall and Bradley Beal to lead them to yet another victory as they square off against Dwight Howard, Kemba Walker and the Hornets.
7 p.m. |  Tickets
Capital One Arena, 601 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

For more events, festivals and things to do in Washington, DC, check out our events calendar.