With the Year of the Pig about to kick off around the world, Richmond is once again at the centre of Metro Vancouver’s Chinese New Year festivities. There are some great events to dive into around the city, most with a family-friendly focus and almost all are admission-free. And while the actual New Year date is February 5, 2019, there are lots of local activities running from late-January into the second week of February.

Lunar New Year
Aberdeen Centre hosts a variety of Chinese New Year events. | Photo: Tourism Richmond

What’s it all about?

The Chinese calendar’s traditional New Year—it’s also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival—is a beloved and colourful period of celebrations that runs until the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar. And it’s not a China-only celebration: lunar celebrations take place in many parts of Asia, from Taiwan to Malaysia and beyond. Family is a huge part of the festivities, with relatives often gathering to mark the happy occasion with a huge feast.

What might I see in Richmond?

You’ll spot bright red and gold decorations around the city during the Lunar New Year period, at places ranging from malls and restaurants to temples and shops. Plan ahead, and you’ll also come across colourful and highly kinetic lion and dragon dances, along with other cultural performances. You might also find pop-up flower markets selling special Chinese New Year items. Some Richmond hot spots—including Aberdeen Centre and Yaohan Centre—are hosting multiple events to mark the Year of the Pig.

What’s on at Aberdeen Centre?

The mall’s festivities include a New Year Flower & Gift Fair, running daily from January 30 to February 5—look for special treats, decorations, and toys as well as plants and flowers. On February 4, the market continues past midnight when the mall also hosts a New Year Countdown Night, complete with stage performances and festive crowds. Drop by Aberdeen the next day for the Golden Dragon and Lion Dance in the Outdoor Courtyard. Finally, on February 9 and 10, the mall presents a Chinese New Year Cultural Showcase of live performances.

Chinese New Year at Aberdeen Centre - Photo: Tourism Richmond
A performance in the courtyard outside of Aberdeen Centre. | Photo: Tourism Richmond

What’s on at Yaohan Centre?

Not far from Aberdeen Centre, one of Richmond’s oldest Asian malls is hosting its own New Year festivities. From a flower market to cultural performances and special shopping promotions, there’s a full menu of daily events between January 21 and February 4 here. At noon on February 5, don’t miss their Year of the Pig Dragon and Lion Dance. And be sure to return on the afternoon of February 10 for the mall’s Chinese New Year Stage Show.

What about the other malls?

Over at Lansdowne Centre on February 9, there’s a special afternoon Chinese New Year Festival, complete with lion dances, cultural performances, and an appearance from the Money God himself. While on February 10, CF Richmond Centre has its own 11:00 am Lion Dance Ceremony to welcome the Year of the Pig.

Are there any other events in Richmond?

There are several additional New Year events to consider here. On January 26 and 27, Bodhi Meditation is hosting a free-entry Chinese New Year Market Place, which includes oracle readings, cultural performances, a children’s courtyard, and vegetarian food. From 10:00 pm on February 4 to 2:00 am on February 5, they’re also hosting a special New Year’s Eve Blessing Ceremony. And over at London Heritage Farm, the site’s vintage tearoom takes on a Chinese New Year flavour—complete with traditional red packets.

Hungry for more? Check the Lunar New Year Festival website for additional events in Vancouver. The Lunar New Year Festival aims to highlight the abundance of events happening in Richmond and Vancouver to celebrate the new year.

What about Richmond’s temples?

The city’s landmark monasteries and temples are also culturally immersive New Year magnets. From January 28 to February 3, Thrangu Monastery’s 7 Days of Mahakala Prayer invites everyone to join in during a week-long event that symbolizes health, prosperity, and success for the year ahead. They’re also hosting Tibetan and Chinese New Year Celebrations on February 5.
Over at the International Buddhist Temple, Chinese New Year’s Eve is a popular day (and a magical evening) that attracts many people every year. And during the first two weeks of the Chinese New Year, many visitors stop by the temple to pray for a safe and prosperous new year.

What about dining out for Chinese New Year in Richmond?

Families traditionally feast together for Chinese New Year. And with such an extensive Asian dining scene, Richmond’s restaurants are often at their busiest during this festive period. Planning a Year of the Pig banquet? Book far ahead of time—especially for larger groups. The most important meal in the Chinese calendar, you’ll find special multi-course menus at many local restaurants. Dishes also take on symbolic meanings at this time of year, including dumplings (said to be shaped like ancient Chinese money) and large golden fruits, which reputedly symbolize fullness and wealth.