The Year of the Horse

The Year of the Horse

The Chinese Lunar New Year gets two distinctly different celebrations in downtown LA and Alhambra 

By Carl Kozlowski 01/29/2014

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One of the Los Angeles area’s most exotic and colorful annual events, the 115th Golden Dragon Parade & Chinese New Year Festival, hits the streets of LA’s Chinatown on Saturday as the heart of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations. 

And for those who can’t get their fill of celebrating this weekend or are reluctant to travel into the city, Alhambra hosts its own Year of the Horse Festival/Carnival the following Saturday, Feb. 8. 

The downtown LA event is the largest in the county, and follows Monterey Park’s celebration, which was held last weekend. Featuring LA Mayor Eric Garcetti as the grand marshal of the big parade, the epic event wends its way from the corner of Hill and Ord streets through to its finale point at Broadway and Cesar Chavez from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

But even before tens of thousands of participants and viewers line the streets for the parade, a more mysterious event unfolds tonight from 10 p.m. to midnight as the Chuan Thien Hau Temple hosts a midnight temple ceremony in which the Chinatown community gathers to welcome good health, prosperity and harmony for the “Year of the Horse.” 

Thousands of attendees will make offerings to the deities, light firecrackers to awaken the spirits and burn incense to usher in good fortune for the New Year. With lion dancers, Buddhist and Taoist monks, and the heads of many family associations in attendance, it should be a lively and memorable kickoff for the weekend’s events. Taking place annually on the eve of Chinese New Year’s Day, the temple ceremony is followed by several days of return visits to the temple for blessings and public celebrations. 

The rest of the weekend — with official hours from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday — features three stages with dozens of entertainers, including live bands, martial arts exhibitions, lion dances, and a wide array of acrobatic performers and troupes. Beyond that, cultural artisans featuring works ranging from brush painting and calligraphy to dough and candy sculptures will be on display, and those eager for food and drink can enjoy an ample assortment of food trucks and alcohol in a craft beer garden. 

Meanwhile, Alhambra’s 23rd Annual Lunar New Year Celebration takes place on Saturday, Feb. 8, and centers around a one-day street festival on Valley Boulevard. With more than 25,000 people in attendance at last year’s event, it has become a major player in the cultural scene.  

Held on five city blocks along Valley Boulevard — from Garfield Avenue to Almansor Street — the Alhambra celebration spotlights the most concentrated Chinese-American commercial district in Southern California. In addition, its two stages feature all-day entertainment, including lion dances, kung fu demonstrations and other ethnic performances, while the God of Fortune gives away traditional Chinese red envelopes to bring good luck to lucky members of the crowd.  

The 115th Golden Dragon Parade & Chinese New Year Festival takes place from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at 943-951 N. Broadway, Los Angeles. Admission is free. Visit Chinatownla.com or call (213) 680-0243. 

The 23rd Annual Lunar New Year Celebration takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, on Valley Boulevard from Garfield Avenue to Almansor Street. Admission is free. Visit alhambranewyearfestival.com or call (626) 395-9995. 

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