Chinese New Year is big in Chicago. With one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and a city that loves to party, Chicago has put together two event-filled weeks to kick off “The Year of the Sheep.”
Chicago’s Chinese New Year celebrations tend to be especially festive and colorful and are a welcome respite from winter.
The Sheep (also referred to as the goat or ram) is the eighth sign of the Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Sheep starts February 19th, marked by the new moon, and will continue until February 7, 2016.
The sheep is one of the most likable signs of the Chinese zodiac. Sheep are said to be kind, helpful, trusting and peace loving.
The citywide celebrations, kick off Sunday, February 15th with a mixture of cultural performances, parades and special events continuing through Sunday, March 1st.
The Chinese Lunar New Year Parade
Everybody loves a parade and the colorful Chinese Lunar New Year Parade that steps off in Chicago’s Chinatown (Wentworth Avenue at 24th Avenue) at 1 p.m. on February 22 is a real crowd-pleaser. Highlights of the parade are the traditional dragon and lion dances, a 100-ft paper dragon, marching bands and floats. Also, while in Chinatown, check out the dining specials being offered at many of the local restaurants.
A Chinese New Year Kickoff at Chicago Cultural Center
Lion dancers will be beating their drums at the Chicago Cultural Center in a special kickoff celebration. The Chinese Fine Arts Society, in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will celebrate the Year of the Sheep with a festive display of traditional Chinese dance, music, puppetry, and martial arts at a free event on Thursday, February 19 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center’s (78 E. Washington St.) Preston Bradley Hall.
On the Roof
On the evening of February 19th, the Roof at theWit hotel (201 N. State Street), will be celebrating the Chinese New Year 27-stories high in the sky on their spacious roof lounge that will be decked out with colorful lanterns and dancing dragons. Guests can get in the spirit with sounds from DJ Big Once and a special menu offering steamed bao buns, potstickers and new moon desserts.
The Lantern Festival at Navy Pier on Sunday, March 1st celebrates the Year of the Sheep with dance, music and multi-arts performances in the tropical glassed-in Crystal Gardens. The festival also features a marketplace with Chinese vendors and artisans, Chinese crafts such as calligraphy, paper cutting and lantern making. Doors open at noon.
At Symphony Center
Symphony Center Presents is hosting a special concert, “Sounds of China: A Chinese New Year Celebration” on Sunday, February 15th at 3 p.m. The concert will feature traditional and celebratory works for the Chinese New Year.
The Argyle Street Lunar New Year Parade
The Argyle Street Lunar New Year Parade on Chicago’s north side of town steps off on Saturday, February 21st at 1:30 p.m. (from 1121 W. Argyle). The celebration will be a little smaller this year due to construction on Argyle but there will be a parade and family activities according to a spokesperson for the Uptown Business district. For updates you can check their website or the 48th Ward website.
At the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute will be offering special Mandarin language audio guides free of charge for visitors between February 14th and March 1st. Stops on the audio tour include Monet’s Water Lilies, American Gothic by Grant Wood, Picasso’s Old Guitarist, and the Thorne Miniature Rooms, which this year feature a room decorated with a shadow puppet show for Chinese New Year.
On that Great Street
Lightscape on State Street celebrates the Chinese New Year with a special multisensory sound and light installation throughout the downtown shopping district from February 16th – March 1st.
Chinese New Year at the Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden is hosting a family celebration on Saturday, February 21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event features free programs and special activities including puppet performance with Chinese folktales; Chinese crafts and more. Admission is free but parking is $25 for non-members. 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe.
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