Did you know that Chicago is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in the country, with roughly 65,000 residents? Year round, the neighborhood offers unique ways to learn about the culture and history of China. From the Chinatown Gate welcoming you into the neighborhood, to the educational Chinese American Museum of Chicago and even the Ping Tom Memorial Park, which offers visitors a pool, gym and kayak rentals; there is a lot to do in Chinatown for any traveler.
Of course, the biggest thing to do coming up is the celebration of the Chinese New Year which starts January 28 and runs through February 12. During that time, you can experience celebrations, parades and fun events to ring in the Year of the Rooster. The festivities don’t stop outside Chinatown though; there are things to see and do throughout the city of Chicago as well.
With strong roots tying back to the old country, the Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood continues to follow the history and culture of China in celebrating the Chinese New Year with a massive celebration; from colorful parades to preparing some of China’s most traditional – and tasty – meals. Not many cities celebrate the way Chicago does and it shows with the abundance of activities around the city.
Begin the Chinese New Year by learning how to make an authentic Chinese dish – dumplings! In its 13th year, the annual Chinese New Year Dumpling Making Dinner, hosted by the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, invites newcomers and veteran dumpling-makers to Hing Kee Restaurant on January 21 and February 4 to learn the art of the dumpling, or jiaozi. This traditional dish dates back more than 1,800 years and continues to live on in Chinese culture today.
Enjoy an afternoon of activities and cultural learning at the beautiful Garfield Park Conservatory on January 21 for its Chinese New Year Celebration. Visitors will make festive Chinese lanterns, learn about their zodiac sign, attend a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and participate in a dragon dance.
At Navy Pier, enjoy Neighborhoods of the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year. During this nine-week event, the Crystal Gardens are ornately decorated with colorful lanterns and feature a unique and intricate dragon dance.
What’s a New Year celebration without a parade? End the Year of the Rooster festivities with two incredible spectacles; one parade in the heart Chinatown and the other on Argyle Street in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.
Light up the day at the Argyle Street Lunar New Year Parade on February 4 with an amazing kick off near the Argyle CTA Red Line station where firecrackers explode while Chinese culture-inspired floats and large dancing dragons pass by.
The following day on February 5, make your way down to Chinatown for the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. Each year, more than 30,000 people attend the parade to help start the New Year off with a bang. Make sure to be on the lookout for the 100-foot-long paper dragon and stunning fireworks show at the end.
The list of fun-filled activities for Chinese New Year never ends! Here are some other educational and awesome events happening around the city to celebrate the Year of the Rooster:
- Chinese Lunar New Year 2017 at the Art Institute of Chicago: From January 17-February 11, spend your day at the Art Institute to view special Chinese-inspired installations, attend unique events and try authentic Chinese cuisine.
- Chinese New Year Celebration: Butterfly Lovers Concerto at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Listen to Robert Chen and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago on January 29 in a performance of the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto, a beautiful piece of Chinese music.
- Celebrate Lunar New Year 2017 at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago: Many activities and cultural experiences will be had at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont from January 28-February 12. Come by to make origami, watch traditional Chinese dances or participate in the “chopstick challenge.”
- Citywide Chinese New Year Kick Off at the Chicago Cultural Center: This kick off ceremony, on its 33rd year, is a wonderful display of Chinese dance, music and martial arts. It will take place this year on January 30.
- Jackie Chan’s Long Yun Kung Fu Troupe from Beijing at Roosevelt University: Hand-picked by Jackie Chan himself, 11 masters of Kung Fu will add to your Chinese New Year fun with a stunning performance of the art on February 4.
There are so many ways to learn about Chinese culture in Chicago, especially during the Lunar New Year. For more information about Chinatown and what there is to see and do throughout the year, check out Things to Do – Chinatown on EnjoyIllinois.com.
-Illinois Office of Tourism