Toronto lights up with red lanterns during Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Markham, and the GTA

2023 Lunar New Year’s Celebrations in Toronto and Around the World

Published: January 18, 2023

The Year of the Rabbit is here and there’s no better place to celebrate Lunar New Year than in Toronto, home to one of the largest Asian communities in Canada. Also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, the annual event reaches far beyond the Chinese community as people in Vietnam, South Korea, Tibet, and beyond gather to mark the occasion. Lunar New Year begins in line with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon 15 days later, giving you plenty of time to celebrate!

In 2023, join in on the fun on your January visit to Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Welcoming visitors from around the world for Lunar New Year, UP Express offers frequent trains connecting travellers from Toronto Pearson Airport to downtown Toronto’s UP Express Union Station in just 25-minutes, seven days a week. Here are just some of the festive happenings in Toronto and around the world to inspire you as we welcome the Lunar New Year, January 22 to 27, 2023.

Toronto Lunar New Year Events

Toronto’s Dragon City mall hosts Lunar New Year ceremony with performances over Chinese New Year

Head to the heart of Toronto’s Chinatown at Dragon City Mall at Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West for the Chinese New Year opening ceremony and lantern exhibition. Drawing in intergenerational members of Toronto’s Chinese community and beyond, all are welcome to experience interactive in-person demonstrations, performances, workshops, and more highlighting the city’s rich Asian heritage and traditions.

Combine a fabulous evening out with philanthropy at the Dragon Ball which returns to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on January 23, 2023. The fundraising event supports cultural and language-appropriate care services provided by Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care to seniors of various ethnic backgrounds in the Greater Toronto Area. If you’re travelling to downtown Toronto for this special Lunar New Year event, UP Express Union Station is just steps away with UP Express offering frequent service and only 25-minutes of travel time between Pearson Airport and Union Station, with two convenient stops along the way and hassle-free connections to GO Transit, and local transit.

Traditional New Year’s Eve Chinatown Lantern Festival And Parade In Toronto

Toronto lights up with red lanterns during Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Markham, and the GTA

Paint the town red on New Year’s Eve with the traditional Lantern Festival! One of the highlights of Toronto’s annual Lunar New Year events, the streets come alive with vibrant red lanterns – traditionally a lucky colour bringing happiness, beauty, vitality, good luck, success, and good fortune. Families, friends, and visitors to Chinatown will be treated to drum beats, fireworks, traditional sweets, delicious dinners at one of Toronto’s great Asian restaurants, many of which feature special Lunar New Year menus including Hong Shing and Toronto’s oldest Hakka restaurant, Yueh Tung, or grab a bite at the buzzworthy Vietnamese restaurant, Cà Phê Rang.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to snag a front row seat to see an exciting Lion and Dragon dance performed. These spectacular costumed and acrobatic dances are truly something to behold as they symbolize power, wisdom, and wealth. With so much happening in Toronto’s Chinatown, it’s a great place to welcome in the Lunar New Year!

Experience all Chinatown has to offer with UP Express with Adult, Seniors, Post-secondary students and Youth savings on fares with PRESTO. Kids under 12 always ride for free! One direct TTC streetcar ride from UP Express Union Station in downtown Toronto, UP Express can help you get the most out of your visit without the stress of parking.

Explore Lunar New Year Celebrations In The GTA

Celebrate Lunar New Year in Toronto’s Chinatown with a delicious meal at many Chinese restaurants

Downtown Toronto isn’t the only place to celebrate Lunar New Year. In Markham, the Markham Civic Centre pulls in visitors and locals with traditional instrumental concerts, Lion dances and marital arts demonstrations. While each year, First Markham Place Mall and Square One in Mississauga play host to Lunar New Year’s art installations and exhibits, dance performances, food, and cultural demonstrations.

UP Express can help you get ready to celebrate with an easy transfer from UP Express Union Station to GO Transit service to connect you directly to the Milliken GO Station across from Pacific Mall shopping centre, Unionville GO Station near First Markham Place Mall, and Cooksville GO a short distance from Square One in Mississauga.

Stock Up On Lunar New Year Treats

Pacific Mall in Markham has many food shops to make your own Tray Of Togetherness for Lunar New Year

As North America’s largest indoor Asian shopping complex, Pacific Mall in Markham is the perfect place to stock up for your Chinese New Year celebrations at home. Try creating your own symbolic “Tray of Togetherness”! Traditionally composed of six to eight compartments filled with seeds, fruit, sweets, and nuts, each item symbolizes luck, happiness, and good fortune for you and your family. Try Mandarin orange slices to bring a bit of gold your way or slivers of candied coconut to build strong family ties in the Year of the Rabbit.

You can also order your traditional Lunar New Year treats and snacks like pineapple cakes and lotus blossom cookies online in advance from Wack Tee Kee or grab some special sweets from one of T&T Supermarket’s locations. For non-traditional sweets, stop by Daan Go Cake Lab by MasterChef Canada Season 2’s Christopher Siu where his East Asian heritage and Western upbringing combine to bring some truly unique treats! Located inside R&D restaurant on Spadina Avenue in Toronto’s Chinatown, head here for creative cakes, macaroons, and pastries to enjoy during the Lunar New Year.

Major Lunar New Year Celebrations Around The World

Celebrate Chinese New Year events in Toronto and around the world

Toronto is just one of the many communities around the world that will be ringing in the Lunar New Year. While there are countless cities celebrating Spring Festival, these are the places with some of the biggest and most popular Lunar New Year parties around the world.

Celebrate Modern And Traditional Lunar New Year In Shanghai

Shanghai, China celebrates Year Of The Rat at Yuyuan Garden in 2020 with Shanghai Lantern Festival

Shanghai, China celebrates the best of both worlds, offering a mix of traditional celebrations and modern festivities to welcome the Lunar New Year. The stunning traditional Yuyuan Garden in the heart of Shanghai transforms for the popular Lantern Festival – the most famous lantern display in the city. Meanwhile, the city’s oldest temple, the Longhua Temple, invites 108 Buddhist monks to climb the pagoda and strike the large bell at midnight to literally ring in the New Year; it’s not just a fun way to start the Year of the Rabbit but the act of ringing the bell symbolizes driving away evil spirits for the year to come.

And what’s a party without something to eat? Food is the most-important part of any celebration and you’ll catch Shanghai locals and visitors snacking on rice dumplings and nian gao, a Shanghainese New Year cake, as they take in Lion dances and Dragon parades throughout the city during the 15-day festival.

Vietnam Celebrates Tết Nguyên Đán

Lunar New Year Tết celebrations with flowers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Tết Nguyên Đán marks the Lunar New Year and beginning of spring in Vietnam as people across the country spend time with their families and loved ones. With an emphasis on a fresh start, you’ll find joyous locals celebrating by cleaning house, buying flowers and new clothing, and decorating with paper garlands, red and gold lanterns with elders giving lucky red bao lì x or red envelopes of money to younger family members. Vietnam is in bloom with yellow and red blossoms meant to symbolize good luck as the Vietnamese spend time visiting gardens and decorating their homes with kumquats, peach flower, and the Vietnamese mickey-mouse plant. Holiday cooking is a big part of Tết festivities with bánh chưng sticky rice cake, fried spring rolls, bitter melon soup and whole boiled chicken part of the feast across the country.

London Hosts The Largest Lunar New Year Festival Outside Asia

Chinese New Year parade in London, England is the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside of Asia

Head to London, England if you want to experience the largest Chinese New Year celebration outside of Asia. Here, the real highlight is the annual Chinese New Year’s Day Parade, beginning with colourful parade floats, costumed performers, and exciting Dragon dances. With performances, art displays, and martial arts demonstrations taking place throughout the city, the main New Year’s Eve celebration happens in the heart of London at the famous Trafalgar Square, culminating with a spectacular pyrotechnic display and Chinese fireworks that are out of this world.

North America’s Oldest Spring Festival

Each year, San Francisco, California hosts North America’s largest and oldest Spring Festival party, attracting over three million spectators. Dating back to the wave of Chinese immigrants who settled in San Francisco in the 1860s, participants light up the sky in the extravagant illuminated night parade. Floats, acrobats, stilt walkers, marching bands, and Chinese acrobats all lead the way for the parade’s grand finale, the show stopping Golden Dragon. The highlight of San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade, the incredible Golden Dragon costume is an astonishing 268 feet long and takes a team of 100 men and women from the White Crane martial arts group to carry it through the streets. Truly a sight not to be missed!

No matter where or how you’re welcoming Lunar New Year in 2023, may the Year of the Rabbit bring you much luck, happiness, and good fortune!

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