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Lunar New Year Events for Seattle-Area Kids and Families in 2021

Celebrate the Year of the Ox with these virtual and IRL events

Nancy Chaney

Published on: January 22, 2021

Close-up of yellow lion head during traditional Chinese lion dance lunar new year celebrations Seattle families 2021

Happy (almost) Lunar New Year! The Year of the Ox starts on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. This time around, given the state of the pandemic, we won't be able to celebrate like we usually do. No crowded festivals, loud firecrackers or impressive live lion dances. But we're going to make do —  we're getting quite good at this. Local organizations are inviting families to celebrate virtually. There are a couple of in-person opportunities, too. If you go, you must mask up and keep your distance, of course.

Festivities take place Jan. 22–Feb. 19, 2021, and we've got them listed below in order of date. 

1. Bellevue Square craft kit pick-up

When: Jan. 22–30
Where: Pick up at Bell Square guest services
Cost: Free
Pick up an IGTV craft kit (one per child/three per household), then tune into online workshops for tutorials on completing the crafts.

2. Kodō: Legacy drumming performance

When: Jan. 22–29
Where: Online
Cost: Free
Tune in on your own schedule for a free performance by Japan’s legendary Kodō drummers, presented by Meany on Screen, that will have you and your kids on the edge of your seats.

3. Lunar New Year storytelling and art

When: Thursday, Jan. 28, 6 p.m.
Where: Online
Cost: Free
Join San Francisco's Asian Art Museum for family-friendly stories and crafts to celebrate the Year of the Ox and dig deeper into the animals of the zodiac.

4. Lunar New Year story time with the Wing

When: Thursday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m.
Where: Online
Cost: Free
Gather 'round with the Wing Luke Museum for a festive Lunar New Year-themed story called "Sam and the Lucky Money."

5. Lunar New Year with the Bellevue Collection

When: Feb. 1–12 for decorations/AR; Feb. 12, 5 p.m. online parade
Where: Bellevue square and online
Cost: Free
The Bellevue Collection is known for its impressive annual Lunar New Year celebration. This year, tune in Friday, Feb. 12 for the virtual dragon and lion parade. Prior to that main celebration, stop by Bellevue Square for festive displays decorating Bellevue Square and to try out an augmented reality AR experience.

6. Tết in Seattle: Vietnamese Lunar New Year

When: Feb. 5–12
Where: Online
Cost: Free
Part of the Seattle Center Festál series – online this year – Tết in Seattle is a community celebration of Vietnamese New Year. Join online to see how traditions from Vietnam mark this most important festival of the year. 

7. Tacoma's mysterious Monkeyshines hunt

When: Around Friday, Feb. 12 (typically a week or so before and up to a week after)
Where: Around Tacoma
Cost: Free
Tacoma knows how to have fun with guerilla art and we've already heard: Monkeyshines will be hidden this year. If you don't live in Tacoma or haven't heard about Monkeyshines, read up and you might just be tempted to wake up early and get in on the hunt.

8. Asia Pacific Cultural Center's Virtual New Year Celebration

When: Monday–Saturday, Feb. 8–13, 11 a.m. daily
Where: Online
Cost: Free
This annual Lunar New Year celebration organized by the Asia Pacific Cultural Center includes six days of virtual performances, each day highlighting a different Asian country and its culture. The finale will highlight the Marshall Islands, this year's featured nation.

9. Lunar New Year story time and craft with King County Library

When: Friday or Saturday, 10 a.m.
Where: online
Cost: Free; preregister
Gather the listed supplies, then tune in for Lunar New Year stories in English and Mandarin and make a Chinese New Year lantern craft.

10. Lunar New Year Celebration with the Wing

When: Saturday, Feb. 13, 1–3 p.m.
Where: Online
Cost: Free
Join the Wing Luke Museum online to celebrate the Year of the Ox! Register in advance to receive a craft kit and tune in for the Shi Shi Mai blessing, traditional lion dance and more. While there's no coloring contest this year, anyone can print and color the Year of the Ox coloring sheet.

11. City of Sammamish Virtual Lunar New Year Celebration

When: Friday–Tuesday, Feb. 12–16 daily
Where: Online
Cost: Free
Celebrate the Year of the Ox and our diverse region with a five-day virtual Lunar New Year event. At your convenience, hop online to enjoy workshops, performances and more. Videos and content will be released daily, Feb. 12–16, with chances to win prizes and giveaways.

Seattle's International District

The I.D. is the center of Seattle's large Chinese community, among the many communities who celebrate Lunar New Year. Many fantastic restaurants in the I.D. are open now and would appreciate your takeout business. Read about some favorite dining spots and other attractions in our article Secrets to the International District From a Chinese Mom.

Lunar New Year books for kids

Learn more about Lunar New Year traditions with these stories.

1. "Bringing in the New Year" by Grace Lin: Bright colors and simple text highlight the most important traditions around New Year.

2. "This Next New Year" by Janet Wong: A young boy celebrates the Lunar New Year with all his neighbors and friends. The book is cross-culturally inclusive and its message is universal: Everyone has dreams and hopes for a fresh start.

3. "A New Year’s Reunion" by Li-Qiong Yu: The book is set in China, where some parents have to leave their children to work in cities. This story has more words than the other two, and a twinge of sadness that you might have to explain to your child.

Editor's note: JiaYing Grygiel and Devon Hammer contributed to this article.

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