Lunar New Year Events, 2019, Washington, DC, Suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia

Monday January 28, 2019 – Sunday February 16, 2019
20th Anniversary Lunar New Year Celebration (All Day)
Lakeforest Mall, Gaithersburg, MD (free)

Week of January 27 – February 2, 2019

Saturday February 2, 2019 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
12th Annual Chinese New Year Festival
Luther Jackson Middle School
Falls Church, VA (free)

Saturday February 2, 2019  11:30 am – 3:00 
Smithsonian Museum of American Art CNY Family Celebration,

Saturday February 2, 2019 11:45 am – 5:00 pm
Opening Day of Year of the Pig,
Lakeforest Mall, Center Court, Gaithersburg, MD (free)

Saturday February 2, 2019 10:30 am
Chinese New Year Celebration – Lion Dance,
Silver Spring Library, Silver Spring, MD

Saturday February 2, 2019 1:00 pm
Chinese New Year Celebration (Free)
Bethesda Library, Bethesda, MD

Saturday February 2, 2019 2:00 pm
Chinese New Year Celebration (Free)
Potomac Library, Potomac, MD

Saturday February 2, 2019 2:00 pm
Lunar New Year Celebration Lion Dance  (Free)
Germantown Library, Germantown, MD

Week of February 3 – February 9, 2019

Sunday February 3, 2019
Celebration: Lunar New Year
Smithsonian Institution, Sackler Gallery
Washington, DC free (call to see if the program is still on)

Monday February 4, 2019 (All Day)
Lunar New Year Scavenger Hunt (Free)
Long Branch Library, Silver Spring, MD

Tuesday February 5, 2019 (All Day)
Lunar New Year Scavenger Hunt (Free)
Long Branch Library, Silver Spring, MD (free)

Wednesday February 6 2019 (All Day)
Lunar New Year Scavenger Hunt
Long Branch Library, Silver Spring, MD (free)

Thursday February 7, 2019 (All Day)
Lunar New Year Scavenger Hunt
Long Branch Library, Silver Spring, MD (free)

Thursday Februry 7, 2019  6:00 pm.
 Lunar New Year: Guangdong National Orchestra
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC (Free)

Friday February 8, 2019 (All Day)
Lunar New Year Scavenger Hunt
Long Branch Library, Silver Spring, MD (free)

Friday February 8, 2019  6:00 pm
Lunar New Year: Quangdong Arts Troupe,
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC (free)

Saturday February 9, 2019 (All Day)
Lunar New Year Scavenger Hunt
Long Branch Library, Silver Spring, MD (free)

Saturday February 9, 2019  10:00 am
Kennedy Center Family Chinese New Year Day
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC (free)

Saturday February 9, 2019 2:00 pm
Lunar New Year Celebration
Gaithersburg Library, Gaithersburg, MD (free)

Saturday February 9, 2019 3:00 pm
Chinese New Year: The Year of the Boar Musical Celebration
Twinbrook Library, Rockville, MD (free)

Saturday February 9, 2019 3:00 pm
Chinese New Year Lion Dance
Chevy Chase Library, Chevy Chase, MD (free)

Week of February 10 – February 16, 2019

Sunday February 10, 2019 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Lunar New Year Celebration
The Walters Gallery
Baltimore, MD (free)

Sunday February 10, 2019 12:30 – 5:00
Chinatown Lunar New Year Festival: Year of the Pig,
Chinese Community Cultural Center, Washington, DC (free)

Sunday February 10, 2019
Chinese New Year Parade,
Chinatown, Washington, DC (free)

Monday February 11, 2019 4:30 pm
Create Your Own Chinese Paper Lantern,
Potomac Library, Potomac, MD (age 8 and under)(free)

Saturday February 16, 2019 10:30 am – 1:30 pm
City of Rockville Lunar New Year Celebration,
Richard Montgomery H.S., Rockville, MD (free)

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Where to Find Lunar New Year Events 2017

I’m not able to spend the time to list out Lunar New Year events for 2017, but I’m going to provide a list of where to find the information:

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Blueberry Mooncakes for the Western Palate


close-mooncakeI’ve tried traditional mooncakes a couple of times, but did not like them either time.   It is not to say I could not find a mooncake which I might love, but I haven’t wanted to buy and sample ones that I think I might end up spitting out.

2.5 inch Mooncake Press

2.5 inch Mooncake Press

I decided to make a mooncake I would like.  I like blueberry and cherry pie, so last year I thought I could make a blueberry tart in my mooncake press.  I started with a can of blueberries which I added lots of flour, oatmeal, and some sugar and butter.  It did not work out too well.  I used the blueberry concoction as the filling and pie dough as the shell.   There was too much pie crust to the blueberry filling.  And because the filling was not dry enough, it just did not work out so well.   I vowed I would try again.

But from my attempt last year, I did realize that in the end I would not have a blueberry tart, but more like a blueberry PopTart.  I’m OK with that, as I like blueberry PopTarts (no icing).

So I have watched a lot of YouTube videos about making mooncakes to help me adapt my ingredients to work like a mooncake is supposed to and to use with a mooncake mold.

What I created this year is not perfect, but it is a major improvement.

Blueberry Filling

2 x 12 oz. bags of frozen blueberries from Trader Joes
1/2 cup of white sugar

I reduced this combination for a long time until it didn’t have much liquid left.  I then looked up the recipe of a crumb that you would put on a pie and added that to my reduction,
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons of butter

I stirred this up and cooked it a little more.  Then I put it in a container and put it in the fridge and let it cool for a day or two.  (in retrospect, I might add a teaspoon of lemon juice next time, and maybe a little more sugar).


Frozen Pie Dough and Blueberry Reduction

Crust of Mooncake

I bought pie dough to use as the outside of the mooncake.  I would have preferred to use the fresh pie dough, but only found it made with lard.  I prefer not to use lard in making my mooncake.

I ended up with frozen pie crust, which I cut up and thawed out.


Trial Day

In those YouTube videos about how to make traditional Chinese mooncakes, the bakers were always weighing out the filling and the crust.  So I decided to weigh out my filling and do different weights and try different combinations.

I tried the following weights of filling: 15 grams, 23 grams, 27 grams and 30 grams.

dough-cupI rolled the balls of blueberry reduction into little balls.  Then I rolled them in a little flour and set them aside while I worked with the pie dough.  I didn’t really weigh out the pie dough.  For the first two mooncakes, I attempted to created a pocket by mashing the pie dough around the ball.  The last two (which worked better), I balled up the pie dough and created a little cup which I put the blueberry ball into.  Then I mashed the dough around dough-ballthe ball.

Obviously I’m not a baker and don’t know what I’m doing.  I’ve never made pie dough, which is why I bought it frozen.  I baked the first four and decided I liked the 30 grams of blueberry reduction better than the other weights. Fifteen grams was sort of like a real PopTart, but maybe too much pie crust.

Make Them for Real Day

I made the rest of the reduction into little blueberry balls (30-31 grams) and put them back in the fridge while I worked on the crust.

Another thing I learned on the YouTube videos was the bakers called for working with filling and crust at room temperature.  But for mine, I needed to keep the filling in the fridge, probably because it wasn’t quite dry enough to stay at room temperature.

dsc_0573This is what my ball looked like before I put it into my mooncake press.  According to the videos, you put the side of the mooncake that has the closure face up to the impression is put into the place most likely to fall apart.  The videos did not say why, I’m just guessing.

I got my mooncake molds off of Amazon, there are many places to buy them.  I have the 2.5 inch molds which came with four different designs.  I floured the molds before stamping them.  But because this is not the best process, I ended up getting blueberry in the mold and changed out the design to a clean design more often than I might have.

I oiled the baking sheets before pressing the molds.  I ended up with four practice mooncakes the first day and eight real mooncakes the second day.  I have more filling, but I ran out of pie dough and haven’t been inspired to buy or make more pie dough just to make five more mooncakes.


I pre-heated the oven to 350° F.  I didn’t know how long to bake, but videos said to bake until golden brown, so I set a timer for 10 minutes and checked.  After 20 minutes, I painted egg white on the tops to make them shiny and put them back in the oven.  I baked the mooncakes a total of about 25 to 30 minutes (until golden brown).

There is nothing about my recipe that is like the Chinese type, so the pie dough did not show the design as well as the Chinese recipes, but you can sort of see it.  And you can see that I didn’t get the dough to come together as well the people who make mooncake videos on YouTube, but I’m satisfied with what came out.


My Eight Blueberry Mooncakes


I didn’t spend much time perfecting the filling because I was just trying to see if I could make a pretty dry blueberry filling.  In the end, I liked them.  They were not very sweet but they were sweet enough.  For traditional mooncakes, you are supposed to let them sit for 3 or 4 days to soften up.  They taste a lot like Blueberry PopTarts, but they are really mooncakes.

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Asian Cultural Mentoring Program – Bamboo Sprouts


We are excited to announce the 2016-2017 Bamboo Sprouts Program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Bamboo Sprouts is a monthly cultural mentoring program for transracial Asian adoptees in which medical students host hands-on activities with young adoptees through two-hour sessions held at the medical school. Each session focuses on a theme that incorporates elements of Asian culture, such as language and arts, cuisine, sports, festivals, and arts.

By doing so, we hope to help adoptees gain an appreciation of their unique background, as well as connect them with other adoptees and positive Asian role models. Our participants are typically from 3rd to 6th grade and often from Korea, China, or the Philippines. Concurrent with the children’s activities, we also hope to create a forum for adoptive parents to discuss adoption-related issues, through inviting adult adoptee speakers and showing relevant movies.The registration fee for the 7 sessions is $40 total to accommodate the materials used. However, if this fee is prohibitive, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

This quote above is from Jenny who is an Asian Medical Student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.  My son participated in this program last year.  Although it says students are usually Chinese, Korean or Filipino, one of the organizers was Vietnamese last year so every program then had also included information about Vietnamese Culture.  I suppose it changes from year to year and if your child is not one of the mentioned cultures, you could email and find out.

I was amazed that busy medical students took the time out pass on cultural information and mentoring to Asian trans-racial adoptees.  It has been going on for many years, but I don’t know how long or how it got started.  None of the mentors last year were adopted, but they have always mentored trans-racial adoptees.

The Asian mentors clearly liked talking about their cultures to the children and I think some of them actually learned more about their cultures in preparing for teaching our children.   We got to learn more than just our child’s culture, we learned about the cultures of other Asian students.  So it is a multicultural program for the students and the parents.

Because our children were third through sixth grade, parents stepped back and did not play a role.  This is what our children need.  They interacted with each other and the Asian mentors.   It is a monthly program, but it skips a couple of months.  Some of the programs last year included holidays, food, and games.

The program takes place in a medical building on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in downtown Baltimore.  While most of the attendees were from Baltimore, Baltimore County or Howard County, there were a couple from Montgomery County.

Now is the time to sign up, by September 4, 2016.

Registration for Bamboo Sprouts

2016-2017 Bamboo Sprouts – Program Information

2016-2017 Bamboo Sprouts – Registration Form

2016-2017 Bamboo Sprouts – Parental Consent Form


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The Emperor’s Nightingale – A Review

Prince Bao (Brett Messiora) and the mechanical bird - photo by Michael Horan

Prince Bao (Brett Messiora) and the mechanical bird – photo by Michael Horan

I attended the press opening and reception of  The Emperor’s Nightingale, a children’s play, playing at Adventure Theater in Glen Echo, April 22 through May 30.  They gave me three tickets for helping promote it.  (I’m guessing I already did that with my last post.)

The story is adapted from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

The Setting

The Emperor’s Nightingale takes place in China in 1723 during the Qing (pronounced like ‘Ching’) Dynasty. At this time, China was a large and powerful empire covering over 8 million square miles and made up of 300 million people. The Emperor lived in a palace that was called The Forbidden City because only his family and government officials were allowed inside.

The Synopsis

The sweet song of a Nightingale saves an Empire. This brand new adaptation set in eighteenth century China, brings to light the younger days of Emperor Qianlong and his brother as they compete to determine who would become one of the greatest rulers of the Middle Kingdom. It takes a magical bird to help the headstrong and aimless Prince to become a King.

Nadine Rousseau as the Nightingale - photo Sarah Straub

Nadine Rousseau as the Nightingale – photo Sarah Straub

Michael Bobbitt, who is the Producing Artistic Director of Adventure Theater MTC mentioned after the show that he spent three years getting this show to the stage, which apparently is typical for a new production.   I’m sure that all his productions are labors of love, but I can’t help but think this production may have a special place in his heart because he is a parent of a child (now teenager) adopted from Vietnam.

Until I really sat down to think about this, I didn’t realize how different this play is from other Asian entertainment I have seen.  Except for the Asian performances I book for my son’s school,  most of the Asian performances I have seen are done by amateurs at free Asian events; Lion Dances done by the Chinese Youth Club or other group, Chinese or Vietnamese dancers done by community groups.   There are other professional performers which  I have heard parents proclaim how wonderful they are, including the Japanese Taiko Drumming performances that tour or the Chinese Dancers/ Acrobats in the Shen-Yun Performing Arts which performs every year at the Kennedy Center.

I’m not sure my eight year old would appreciate an evening of Japanese drumming (he would proclaim it too loud) or Chinese dancing (he only likes Michael Jackson).  But here was an opportunity for a child who is not involved in music, theater or dance to enjoy a professional play about Asian characters, performed by Asian actors, with the production team being mostly Asian, including the director and playwright.

Sue Jin Song as Panda - photo by Sarah Straub

Sue Jin Song as Panda – photo by Sarah Straub

For my child, the most important features of a show are 1) Is it entertaining? and 2) is it funny?  We all enjoyed the show.  I asked my son what his favorite parts were and he liked the two panda’s (played by Mikey Cafarelli and Sue Jin Song) who gossip about what is going on in the territory.  I’m sure there were other things he loved about the show, but when it comes to funny, he loved the pandas.

I liked that the play touched on several quintessential parts of Chinese culture, that a non-Chinese person like myself could recognize.  The tiger, which plays a pretty big role in the show is done as a Lion Dance.  But what makes it really funny and fantastic is the Tiger tail separates from the head and talks to itself.  This was an excellent way of moving the story along, but is also really funny.  I loved both the costume and the comedy of the the tail (Andrew Quilpa).

Tiger (Jonathon Frye and Andrew Quilpa) - photo by Sarah Straub

Tiger (Jonathon Frye and Andrew Quilpa) – photo by Sarah Straub

The Empress Consort (played by Sue Jin Song) fights against the tiger at one point and she brings out her “claws” like an Asian Tiger Mom (of course the kids didn’t get this).   And the show has those two pandas that gossip with one another.

At one point in the show they projected what looked like Chinese Shadow Puppets on to the backdrop.  I’m not sure everyone would recognize the significance of this, but I had seen the shadow puppets at a Montgomery County Library when the Li Ming Chinese Academy did a bunch of different folk performances during a Lunar New Year presentation.

Besides the humor of the Tiger tail, I loved the performance of Prince Bao (played by Brett Messiora).  Prince Bao is the hero of the story and at one point he does a dance with a sword and you can see his dance background in this performance.  And isn’t sword work  another quintessential Asian thing?

This is a touchy subject I know, I don’t actually know the ethnicities of the actors, but I can guess.   Last names can often tell a lot about ethnicity and my guess is that there are a number of different Asian ethnicities that are represented in this production (I’m guessing: Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Philippine.)   And just as important, there are a couple actors (at least) who appear bi-racial which reflect our society as a whole in 2016.  Since the press release mentions an all Asian cast and production staff, I feel that I can bring up that it was also a diverse group of East Asians and Southeast Asians.

I’m really happy that it is an all Asian cast, as too often white people are cast to play Asians.

I loved the story, which being a children’s story, has a moral.  The Nightingale (played by Nadine Rousseau) has a most beautiful voice.  And it is always fun for the audience to have a couple “villains” in the show, Prince Hongshi (Andrew Quilpa) and Minister Wu (Jonathan Frye).

The choreographer, Stella Choi, is the choreographer and instructor of the Fairfax Chinese Dance Troupe. 

Adventure Theater Musical Theater Center in Glen Echo is an intimate theater.  The seating is general; so get there early to get the best seats.  The seats are about as comfortable as the seats at McDonalds, but the show is only an hour.  It is not “The Ring of the Nibelung”, although the person sitting next to me brought a seat pad.

This is a chance for adoptive parents to let our children see Asian faces up on stage in a production made for children.   I think the whole family will really enjoy it.  The last time our whole family saw an Asian production made for children was Anime Momotaro at Imagination Stage in 2013.  That is a long time ago.

The Cast of "The Emperor's Nightingale" - photo by Michael Horan

The Cast of “The Emperor’s Nightingale” – photo by Michael Horan






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Events for Asian Pacific Heritage Month

I had two people contact me to help promote some events that deal with Asian culture and Asian Pacific Heritage Month.   I thought I would highlight them here as we are coming up on Asian Pacific  Heritage Month.  One is a children’s play which is set in China during the Qing Dynasty.  The other is an award-winning documentary film which is part of the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival.

The Emperor’s Nightingale – All Asian Cast

nighingaleFor all ages:  Adventure Theater Musical Theater Center in Glen Echo, MD is putting on the play “The Emperor’s Nightingale”.

The Emperor’s Nightingale premiers on April 22, 2016, so I have not seen it yet.  It runs until May 30, 2016.  This play is an adaptation of “The Nightingale” by Hans Christian Andersen and it takes place in 18th Century China during the Qing Dynasty.

What makes this play unique is that it features an all-Asian-American cast, playwright, director, choreographer, lighting designer, costume designer, and Princess Grace Award recipient scenic designer, Hana Sooyeon Kim.  Wow!  That is extraordinary that ATMTC has made this an all Asian cast.

It is fabulous that our children have a chance to see actors who look like themselves, as well as so many behind the scenes artists.  I applaud Adventure Theater for bringing both this show and  the all-Asian cast to its lineup in 2016 and for celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage Month with this show.

Why is this so special?

I book the cultural arts assemblies for the PTA at my child’s school.  And I am also the Asian Culture Chair, so I always give all of my money for the Asian Culture committee to the Cultural Arts and Assemblies Committee to get an Asian assembly each year.  And it is not that easy to book Asian artists.  There are just not as many as I would like.  I have booked Asian artists for three years and two out of those three years I have booked traveling artists because I could not get much locally.  And the one show I booked that was local was the Smithsonian Associates Discovery Theater on Tour presenting Asian tales in a show called “Tigers, Dragons and Other Wise Tales“.    They did a fabulous job with this show, but were the actors Asian?  I didn’t ask, but none of the actors looked particularly Asian to me.  It was possible that they were.  The actor who announced he was from Japan looked white to me, but he didn’t say he was Japanese, only he was from Japan.

I asked Adventure Theater to send me the press release so I could find out about the show before I see it.  Here is a little about what the story is about.

This brand-new adaptation is set in the Qing Dynasty, eighteenth century China, and brings to light the younger days of Emperor Qian Long, who would become one of the greatest rulers of the Middle Kingdom. It takes a magical bird to help the headstrong and aimless prince to become a true leader.

Natsu Onoda Power, director of the production and assistant professor of theater in Georgetown University’s Department of Performing Arts, says of the production, “A young leader, a prince, who learns to prioritize the people he serves over his personal aspirations; he learns to listen to and act on behalf of the underrepresented.  It’s such a timely and beautiful story to tell in Washington, DC right now.”

Tickets are available now for the show.


Reunification – a documentary about the contemporary immigrant experience.

Photo 1-FamilyAlvin Tsang, the director of “Reunification” contacted me to help promote this very personal story of his family’s immigration to the United States from Hong Kong.

This award-winning film will have its Washington, D.C. premiere screening at the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival on Saturday, April 23 at 6pm at The Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema (807 V Street, NW  Washington, DC 20001).

Here is the website for ReunificationThe synopsis is as follows:

Between faded family photographs, old video footage, and interviews collected through the years, Alvin Tsang’s REUNIFICATION bears the look and feel of a documentary that’s taken decades to produce. Perhaps it required all that time for Tsang to fully process his family’s history and confront his own emotionally turbulent upbringing. For the audience though, that passing of time is key to the film’s powerful portrayal of tireless emotional reconciliation.

When his mother and two siblings first immigrated from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, six-year-old Alvin was forced to stay behind with his working, and consequently absent, father. Spending the following three years often alone in an empty apartment, he longed for his family’s reunification. However, upon Alvin and his father’s arrival to America, that dream was utterly and permanently shattered under circumstances the filmmaker has yet to fully comprehend to this day.

REUNIFICATION is Tsang’s poetic and self-reflexive exploration of many unresolved years – poetic in its wonderfully articulated narration and in its restraint as he grasps for any semblance of explanation. Backed by an achingly beautiful score, the film moves moodily across different channels and modes, bending into labor histories and Hong Kong’s colonial trajectories, wading in the mire of nostalgia, grief, and confusion that is his past. And in his search for answers, Tsang turns the camera on his own family, cautiously prodding for answers, but fully acknowledging that the only closure he can get will be from deciding for himself how to move on. –Brandon Yu

 My Tsang recommends that it is for age 15 and older.  Here is the screening and ticket information.

Here is the trailer for Reunification


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A Family Guide to Lunar New Year Events 2016

Lion Dancers, photo courtesy of Tet Celebration at Dulles Expo

Lion Dancers, photo courtesy of Dulles Expo Tet Celebration

Some of this is a repeat of my 2015 post, but I have updated it to refer to 2016 events and added more here and there.

As I write this I have 30 events listed on my Lunar New Year events page, and there are more I know about that I’m waiting for additional information.

If your kids are young or you have never been to a Lunar New Year/ Chinese New Year event and you want to dip your toes in…, I suggest going to one of the library events (free) or Port Discovery (paid). One nice thing about the library events is they are very intimate and everyone is near the action because the rooms are just not that big.

Library Programs

All library events are free, but sadly not all library events are created equal. I have been to many of the Montgomery County Library events over the years. The best ones are the ones that say that a Chinese School or Youth Group will be performing. The ones put on at the library with just librarians just are not the same and do not include a real performance. So if you are only going to go to one performance, skip the ones which do not include students from a Chinese club or school.  I have made bold the library programs which promise student and youth performances.

Fairfax County Libraries are doing more programs this year.  I have not been to a FxCo Library program, but just because it says “Lunar New Year with Dragon Dance and other fun activities”, do not assume that there will be a performance.  It could be a librarian with a homemade dragon costume that the children participate in.  I’m sure it will be a fun program, but if you really want to see a Lion Dance or Dragon Dance performance by students, this may not be the place to see it. Call to find out.

The library programs meet in meeting rooms at the library, but sometimes the performance might move around the library into the stacks.  There is usually good seating in chairs, but get there early to snag a seat.

Port Discovery

Port Discovery, a children’s museum in Baltimore, would also be a good place to dip your toes into Chinese New Year.  I have not been, as there are so many other options.  Of course the celebration at Port Discovery  (Feb 6)  is free with your paid admission to the children’s museum.  This would be a good place to go if you were already planning to do to Port Discovery and participating in the events while you are there.  The line up of things to do, looks impressive for young children.

Big Spaces and Excellent Performances (Malls)

Both Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax and Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg, work with Chinese communities and schools to put on some excellent performances.  The space is big and the performances are varied and excellent.  It might be a little overwhelming for very young children and not all the performances are exactly related to Lunar New Year.  There are dancers and demonstrations from many different Asian communities.  When I went to Fair Oaks one year, seating is on the ground or standing on the upper levels to watch below.  So if comfort is one of your must haves, this is probably not the best choice. But at the same time, I saw the best Dragon dance I’ve ever seen at the mall.

Big Museums and Performance areas in DC

The Kennedy Center is doing 5 different events for Lunar New Year.  The Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Textile Museum, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art are all doing Chinese New Year Family programs.  In fact all three museums contacted me this year to help promote their programs.

Sadly I have not been to any of these, although Kennedy Center and the Textile Museum are new to my list this year.  Being that these are well-funded museums, I suspect they do a very good job.  I don’t know if there will be chairs to watch performances.  And if that is something you crave, I would call and find out.  All of these family events are free.  There is one paid event at the Kennedy Center.

The Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore  (Feb 7) does a family day to celebrate Chinese New Year.  I would equate this to the Smithsonian events.  It is a 3-hour event which includes demonstrations from Chinese schools.

The Best Seats in the House

There are two events, only one of which I have been to, take place in auditoriums.  One is the Chinese New Year Celebration at Luther Jackson Middle School (Feb 6) , sponsored by the Asian Service Center.  The other one is at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater in Rockville (Feb 13).  In both cases, you have nice places to sit (in auditoriums) and excellent student performances.  I have been to the one at Luther Jackson and in addition to performances, there is food and vendors and lots of people to talk to. I believe the same is true of the Rockville event.

The Real Deal

Tet food table

Serving Food at Tet, photo courtesy of Tet Celebration at Dulles Expo

Vietnamese celebrate Lunar New Year and it is called Tet.  They have celebrations which are mostly meant for other Vietnamese but welcome all.  I’ve seen our Montgomery County county executive speak at the Northwood Tet Festival (Jan 30).  There are a couple in Northern Virginia, but it is harder to get the information, since they don’t have websites or facebook pages. I’m pretty sure that there is one at JEB Stuart HS on Feb 6, which is scout troops and the Vietnamese Community celebrating and another one on Feb 7, (same place).  These festivals are the real deal.  But they are crowded and loud.  And some times they are speaking only in Vietnamese. But it is the place to buy an ao dai for your child or get authentic Vietnamese food. Or buy an orange tree or other Tet decorations.   Or to see and be seen in the Vietnamese Community.  I have been to a few, but my child only wants to go if we are meeting friends there.  Usually it costs a couple dollars to get in, but if you are wearing traditional clothing, you get in free.

There is a Tet Celebration at Dulles Expo Center. (Jan 30, 31)  The website says they expect to attract up to 30,000 people.  It goes on for two days, all day, out in Dulles.  It must be something.  I’d like to hear about it, but don’t think I can get out that far when on the same day there is a Tet Festival in my neighborhood.  This would be an excellent event to get to if you want the real cultural experience.  I suspect they will have food, vendors and performances galore. This one costs a few dollars to get in.

The Tet Celebration at Eden Center is also the real deal. I have not heard about the date and time yet, but it takes place at the Eden Center, a shopping center in Falls Church, VA with mostly Vietnamese stores.   Much of what happens is in the parking lot.  There are speeches and Lion Dances and firecrackers (loud and smokey). The way to do this it to meet some friends there and go have lunch in one of the restaurants in the mall.  Then perhaps the Lion Dancers will come parade through the restaurant when you are eating.  This happened to us and it is the real Vietnamese Tet experience.  This is not the best event for small children, due to the noise and smoke of the firecrackers that happens around the Lion Dances which take place outdoor.  Of course there are not (real) firecrackers inside, but you can buy the fake firecracker decorations there.

Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown (DC)

The Chinese New Year Parade takes place Sunday Feb 14, 2016, according to the calendar of the Chinese Youth Club, which is performing there.  Chinatown is only two blocks, but they put on a parade every year.  My family has been twice.  We went when the weather was above 4o ° F.  I timed the parade as being 18 minutes from start to finish one year.  But it is exciting to go to a parade.  Go early and eat lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. There are still a few left.  They do fireworks afterward, but we have never stayed for it.

You want to stand near the beginning of the parade and away from the Metro stations for the best viewing location. I will update this when I get more information.

Blackrock Center for the Arts

This Lunar New Year Celebration (Feb 6) is new to me. I’m not sure if they have done this before, but I heard about it in conjunction with the Germantown Library.  Blackrock Arts Center is walkable to Germantown Library and you can go to storytime at the library and head on over to Blackrock.


So there are way too many events for any one person or family to get to them all.  In 2016, Lunar New Year is on February 8, which means traditionally people celebrate on the evening before (February 7).   But the DC area celebrates for an entire month to get all of these events in.  2016 is the Year of the Monkey!

Posted in Asian culture, Lunar New Year | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments