Illustrated image of UP train transforming into a dragon

2024 Lunar New Year’s Celebrations in Toronto and Around the World

Published: February 5, 2024

The Year of the Dragon is upon us! Lunar New Year, also commonly called Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is celebrated all over the world. There’s no better place to celebrate the Lunar New Year than in Toronto, home to one of the largest Asian communities in Canada. 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 2024, join in on the fun on your February 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. This year, we’re excited to celebrate Lunar New Year with travellers at our activation at UP Union Station. Here are some of the festive happenings in Toronto and around the world to inspire you as we welcome the Lunar New Year, February 10 to February 16, 2024.

Toronto Lunar New Year Events

Celebrate Lunar New Year in Toronto’s Chinatown

Chinatown in Toronto, ON

In the heart of Toronto’s Chinatown at Dragon City Mall, located at Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West, there’s plenty to do during Lunar New Year. To welcome the year of the Dragon, Toronto Chinatown BIA spearheads celebrations with a lineup of interactive games and performances to showcase the rich heritage of Asian traditions. You can expect lion dances, Chinese Folk Dance, Chinese orchestra, Chinese New Year cooking, Chinese calligraphy, God of Fortune and much more. You also don’t want to miss the Lantern Festivals, a staple to the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Experience all Chinatown has to offer with UP Express. Don’t forget to take advantage of Seniors, Post-Secondary students, and Youth savings on fares with PRESTO. Forgot your PRESTO? Your PRESTO is now in Google Wallet. 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 finding parking.

Lunar New Year Annual Dragon Ball

Wine glasses set on a table at a gala.

Celebrate in style for a good cause with the annual Dragon Ball, an annual benefit gala for Yee Hong Community Wellness Foundation. Combining philanthropy and celebrating Chinese New Year, the Dragon Ball has a long-standing tradition in Toronto as one of the most anticipated events and largest Chinese New Year celebration of its kind in North America for the last three decades. This year marks the 35th anniversary so get ready for a monumental celebration!

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Music

Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, ON

Calling all music lovers! Celebrate Lunar New Year right downtown at Roy Thomson Hall with a special performance Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) on February 13, 2024. Back by demand, this year’s festivities, “Year of the Dragon: A Lunar New Year Celebration” is a vibrant cultural experience hosted and narrated by comedian Dashan (Mark Rowswell). TSO will perform a variety of beloved classics from both Western and Chinese classical canons and festive favourites befitting of the season. Also be sure to arrive early to take part in the pre-concert celebration in the lobby, offering guests the opportunity to partake in many cultural activities. Be sure to grab your tickets before they’re sold out!

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Food

Spread of several Lunar New Year dishes and condiments

Food is a major part of the Lunar New Year celebrations. There are various celebratory meals, but the most important remains a dinner feast with extended family on the eve of the new year. Many restaurants across the city offer special menus, whether you want to take-out or dine-in, there’s an option for everyone. For an extravagant modern tasting menu, head to DaiLo, serving up predominantly Chinese fare with a unique French tradition. For a more casual experience head to Yueh Tung Restaurant, a family run Chinese restaurant in Chinatown that has been in business since 1986. Lastly to satisfy your sweet tooth, grab a special and tasty treat from Daan Go Cake Lab.

Another staple of the Lunar New Year is to have a red lacquered box with compartments filled with candies and snacks called "The Tray of Togetherness”. Make your own with Wai Tack Kee or head to T&T Supermarkets for gift boxes that are ready to buy.

UP Express Celebration at Union Station

Illustrated image of UP train transforming into a dragon

Every year, many visitors come to Toronto to celebrate the Lunar New Year. UP Express is proud to offer a dedicated route connecting Toronto Pearson Airport to downtown Toronto at affordable rates in only 25-minutes. This year, join us at the UP Express activation on February 8th from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at UP Union Station to celebrate the Lunar New Year with us!

Lunar New Year Events in the Greater Toronto Area

Three lion dances with a red, blue and yellow lion lined up from left to right.

You don’t have to be downtown to celebrate the magic of Lunar New Year. There’s plenty of events happening around the GTA. 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. In addition, GTA LunarFest is hosting several events across the GTA with the theme of “Born to be Free” representing the year of the Dragon.

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.

Lunar New Year Celebrations 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 celebrations around the world.

Celebrate Modern and Traditional Lunar New Year in Shanghai

Celebrate Chinese New Year events in Toronto and around the world

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 Dragon 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

Chinatown in London, England

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.

New York’s Firecracker Ceremony and Festival

Busy street in Chinatown in New York City, USA

Ring in the Lunar New Year in the heart of New York City! In Lower Manhattan at Sara D. Roosevelt Park for a spectacular firecrackers ceremony and cultural experience. On February 10, 2024, head to the park for this annual free event. If you’re still in town later on in the month, you don’t want to miss the 26th Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival on February 25, 2024, at 1:00PM. Experience the annual celebration featuring stunning visuals, treats and impressive performances capped off with lion dances.  

No matter where or how you’re welcoming Lunar New Year in 2024, may the Year of the Dragon bring you much luck, happiness, and good fortune!