With the Year of the Rat about to kick off around the world, Richmond is once again at the heart of Metro Vancouver’s Chinese New Year celebrations. There are some great events to dive into around the city—and many of them are family-friendly and admission-free. The actual New Year date is January 25 this time around, but there are many local activities running from mid-January onwards.

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 sparkling 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 the International Buddhist Temple—host highly popular events that attract lots of festive-minded locals and visitors every year.

What’s on at Aberdeen Centre?

The mall’s celebrations start with a New Year Flower & Gift Fair, running daily from January 18 to January 26—look for stalls selling special treats, decorations, and toys, as well as plants and flowers. On January 24, the mall will be open past midnight when the mall also hosts its New Year Countdown, complete with live cultural performances, smiling crowds, and an onstage blessing from the Chinese God of Fortune. Drop by Aberdeen Centre the next day (January 25) for the Golden Dragon & Lion Dance in the Outdoor Courtyard. Also on January 25 (as well as January 26), the mall presents a Chinese New Year Cultural Spectacle of live performances. All events are free.

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

What about the other malls?

At CF Richmond Centre on January 26, the Year of the Rat will be marked by a fun-filled Lunar New Year Celebration. Scheduled from 11:00am to 2:00pm, there will be an energetic Lion Dance ceremony—complete with the God of Fortune—plus a chance to follow a colourful dancing lion around the mall as it dispenses blessings for the year ahead to the centre’s retailers. You can also expect similar festive happenings at Yaohan Centre and Lansdowne Centre—keep an eye on our events calendar for details.

What’s happing at the International Buddhist Temple?

The city’s landmark monasteries and temples are also culturally immersive New Year magnets. At the International Buddhist Temple, Chinese New Year’s Eve is a popular day (and a magical evening) that attracts many people every year. Open from 10:00am, the excitement increases as the countdown period begins from 10:30pm onwards. Over the following few days, many visitors stop by to pray for a safe and prosperous year ahead.

Are there any other events in Richmond?

There are a few  additional New Year events to consider in the city. On January 18 and 19 (from 11:00am to 4:00pm), Bodhi Meditation is hosting a highly inviting, free-entry Chinese New Year Market Place, complete with oracle readings, cultural performances, a children’s courtyard, and delicious vegetarian food. And on January 25, the River Rock Casino Resort will be hosting a Chinese New Year Celebration (from 5:45pm - midnight). Celebrate the Year of the Rat and the start of the Lunar New Year with a number of traditional dances and ceremonies happening throughout the resort. 

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 Rat banquet? Make sure you book far ahead—especially for larger groups. The most important meal in the Chinese calendar, you’ll find special multi-course menus at dozens of 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.