Lunar New Year celebrations fill the city with vibrant colors, flavors, and lots of sounds. January 25 rings in the Year of the Rat. According to the Chinese zodiac, the rat is wise and clever, a peaceful homebody. But there's no reason to stay home when New York offers so many ways to celebrate. Before lion and dragon dances fill the streets of Chinatown on February 8 and 9, there are many extraordinary and some unexpected offerings.
New York's China Institute starts the season early with a workshop on the arts of calligraphy and paper cutting on January 18, a musical performance on the 20th, and a focus on cutting-edge Chinese fashion on the 27th, all free at The Oculus at the World Trade Center. They're also hosting a month-long arts festival at their home at 40 Rector Street, with the main celebration on February 2nd, featuring puppetry, lantern-making, dances and dumplings. chinainstitute.org/lunarnewyear2020/
The Orchestra Now presents "The Sound of Spring" its first annual Chinese New Year concert in conjunction with the US-China Music Institute at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall on January 26. Musicians from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing join the orchestra, bringing sounds of the sheng bamboo flute, the two-stringed erhu, the lute-like pipa, and a traditional folk singer from Shaanxi Province. The mostly contemporary works include The "Spring Festival Suite" by Li Huanzhi, a composition for pipa inspired by poetry, and "Long Teng Hu Yue (Prancing Dragons and Jumping Tigers)" a work for percussion instruments. "Yan’an-Yan’an" sums the spirit of the holiday with the lyrics "a time of happiness, a global endeavour, the journey begins, hold fast to your loved ones." jazz.org/events/t-10418/
The New York Philharmonic, conducted by Long Yu, performs a Lunar New Year concert at David Geffen Hall on January 28. It includes the New York premiere of a composition inspired by ping pong, a violin concerto titled "The Butterfly Lovers," Zhou Tian’s "Gift," and the acclaimed pianist, Haochen Zhang, in Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue." nyphil.org/concerts-tickets/1920/lunar-new-year
The Shanghai Ballet's "Grand Swan Lake" with Tchaikovsky's music performed by the New York City Ballet Orchestra, brings principal dancers Wu Husheng and Qi Bingxue along with 78 others, including an eyeful of elegance – 48 swans – to the stage of the David H. Koch Theater from January 17-19. davidhkochtheater.com
Flavors of the East fill the Upper East Side on February 1. The Met celebrates Lunar New Year throughout the museum with free performances, storytelling, activities and special works of art on view in the Asian wing. Look for beautiful costumes, family fun, and some of the most stunning depictions of rodents in the history of art. metmuseum.org/events/programs/met-celebrates/festivals-and-special-programs/lunar-new-year-2020
The Asia Society's "Moon Over Manhattan" family day brings a traditional costumed lion dance, kids' story time, Korean mask-making, puppets, and kung-fu demonstrations. AsiaSociety.org/NY
The Madison Avenue Lunar New Year Celebration on February 1 takes the form of a kind of celestially inspired shopping spree. Local retailers place a "wishing tree" at 710 Madison Avenue. Add a wish, collect stamps from stores, and take them to Philippe by Philippe Chow for snacks and a lucky red envelope with a gift card inside. madisonavenuebid.org/lunar-new-year/
Lunar New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, a time to look for harbingers of renewal. It's a heartening thought in the coldest part of the year in New York, and a good reason for everyone to have fun with fireworks, a wish, a dance or a song.