From culinary treats to creative displays, here are six fantastic local ways to ring in the Year of the Rat
Are you ready to ring in the Year of the Rat? Not only does 2020 mark the first year in a new decade, but it's also the beginning of a new 12-year cycle of the lunar calendar, with the first-place rat reigning supreme in the Chinese zodiac. In honour of the resourceful rodent, we've rounded up six first-rate ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Vancouver and Richmond. Xin nian hao!
1. Old Bird: Chinese Food with Attitude
Old BirdCheeky and original, Old Bird is Vancouver's newest authentic Chinese eatery, a fun and lively 60-seat room. The menu plays to adventurous diners and regional cuisine purists who can equally indulge, thanks to chef Deseree Lo's inspired and elevated take on flavours from Taiwan and Shanghai street food—a bold fusion of contemporary flavours, and traditional tastes from her childhood. Both small and share plates are pleasers, like crispy tofu (owner Sophia Lin's fave), steamed black cod (fish is an essential Chinese New Year's dish—leftovers mean living a fulfilling future), and the eponymous smoked half chicken (Deseree's pick) with the frankly pleasing menu directive, "eat with your hands." B.C. craft beer and wine, plus nine signature cocktails round out the bar program. No fortune cookie here, but Sophie's tongue-in-cheek prophecy should do: "Our daikon puff pastry is shaped like a money pouch. Eat one and you will get rich!"
Old Bird, 3950 Main Street, Vancouver; Tuesday thru Saturday; Walk-ins only; Details online
2. Soar Over Taiwan at FlyOver Canada — Thursday, January 16 to Sunday, February 16
FlyOver Canada/NicholashanBuckle up! The virtual flight adventure Soar Over Taiwan takes off on an epic grand scale—a 20-metre half-spherical dome screen. Feel the sensation of soaring over the island nation's most iconic sites like Green Island, the Ruan'an Bagua Tea Farm, Sun Moon Lake, and the world-famous Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival. Prior to the main attraction, experience an exclusive Lunar New Year pre-show celebration. Cap off your flight with an authentic Taiwanese pineapple cake and Oolong tea, sold at the adjacent Flying Whale.
FlyOver Canada, 201 – 999 Canada Place, Vancouver; Tickets online
3. International Village Mall — Friday, January 24 to Sunday, January 26
International Village MallThis three-day celebration honours the Year of the Rat with traditional rituals. Festivities kick off with a ceremonial opening, with government dignitaries and local celebrities in attendance. A bustling atmosphere permeates the mall's main and upper levels with festival-goers, vendor and exhibition booths, multi-ethnic craft and flower garden, Chinese heritage village, peach blossom photo booth, children's art festival, dragon boat rides and more. Expect lots of Lunar New Year souvenirs, giftware and culinary delights, plus giveaways and live performances.
International Village Mall, 88 West Pender Street, Vancouver; Free admission; Details online
4. Aberdeen Centre Chinese New Year Cultural Spectacle — Saturday, January 25 & Sunday, January 26
Tourism RichmondRichmond's Aberdeen Centre hosts back-to back days of elaborate celebrations, beginning on Saturday with a spectacular orchestra performance by the B.C. Chinese Music Association from 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. and concluding with a dazzling dance performance by the Vancouver Academy of Dance from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The golden dragon and lion dances are held in the outdoor courtyard at 11 a.m. Sunday, and feature the Colours of Dance Academy from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and Cindy Yang Dance Academy from 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Aberdeen Centre, 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond; Free admission; Details online
5. Lunar New Year Traditions at Granville Island — Saturday, January 25 to Sunday, February 9
Granville IslandExpect high energy on Granville Island when it commemorates the Lunar New Year. Snap a selfie in front of the lantern installations, around the public market or inside the Net Lofts atrium until February 9th. Activities on January 26th begin at the market's southwest entrance at 10 a.m. Witness the traditional form of Chinese folk art, where hot liquid sugar is used to create two- and three-dimensional figures. Walk away with a tasty edible piece of art! The fun continues from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. as traditional lion dancers weave and bop their way through the market and proceed in merriment around the island, spreading good luck and prosperity to everyone. Watch for the God of Fortune, who will hand out lucky red envelopes and good wishes for the year.
Granville Island, Vancouver; Free admission; Details online
6. 47th Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade — Sunday, January 26
CBA VancouverNothing captures Chinese New Year tradition quite like the annual parade. Join more than 100,000 spectators and experience the sights and sounds of Chinatown's signature event. You'll get the chance to see Canada's largest collection of lion dances with dozens of colourful and energetic lions from various local fraternal and martial arts organizations, plus cultural dance troupes, marching bands, martial arts performances and more. The one-kilometre-plus route begins at 11 a.m. at the Millennium Gate on Pender Street between Shanghai Alley and Taylor Street, and ends at Keefer and Abbott. More than 70 entries bring together over 3,000 participants from various communities and cultural groups. The multicultural dance troupes represent diverse segments of Canadian cultural heritage, like the V.P.D. motorcycle drill team, marching bands and various community groups.
Begins at Millennium Gate, Pender Street, Vancouver; Details online