How to Celebrate the Year of the Ox in New York City

Westfield World Trade Center Year of the Ox

Lunar New Year begins on February 12 this year, continuing for two weeks through February 26. This year is the Year of the Ox signifying strength and honesty, characteristic attributed to this highly valued animal. The Lunar New Year is a festival of unity, a way for friends and family to come together whether virtually or in-person to enjoy traditions that will bring good fortune for the coming year. Traditional red lanterns, dragons, wishing trees, lion dances, and, of course, food mark this important holiday. It’s a time when families celebrate the transition between zodiac signs.

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company (c) Anthony Alvarez

On the Waterfront

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey celebrate Lunar New Year all week, in partnership with Westfield World Trade Center and the China Institute, with a weeklong series of activities at the World Trade Center. Instruction in virtual dumping making, watercolor calligraphy and paper cutting are highlights. Register online where you can also view the schedule of events. And, don’t forget to look up — the Oculus, Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge and JFK Tower will shine in red and gold to commemorate the Year of the Ox.

Lunar Ice at Brookfield Place courtesy Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place is holding its annual Chinese New Year celebration in person, adapted this year to meet all safety procedures. On the shopping center’s Waterfront Plaza, Lunar Ice showcases ice sculptures by New York City-based art collective, Okamoto Studio on February 12 and 13. Turn your smartphone’s camera to selfie mode to use the new Transform Yourself! Instagram Filter, made especially to commemorate Chinese New Year. Warm up indoors where you can participate in another  Lunar Year tradition, receiving a red envelope. Red is regarded as the symbol of energy, happiness and good luck. If you spend $200 or more in the shops, you’ll be rewarded with a Lucky Red Envelope with a gift card inside with an amount including a lucky Chinese 8.

Met Lunar New Year courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

Virtual Celebrations

A family favorite, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Lunar New Year Festival goes virtual this year beginning with pre-recorded videos on February 12 and virtual programming on February 13. The celebration of the Year of the Ox is filled with performances, interactive activities and artist-led workshops for all ages.  Highlights include a sketching session for teens with inspiration from The Met Collection, and a dance and musical performance by the New York Korean Performing Arts Center in The Met’s Astor Court. Teaching artists will provide instruction in making a nature-inspired confetti popper, a zodiac animal charm and a puppet of a dragon, an important symbol in Chinese culture that possesses great power, dignity and wisdom. 

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company (c) Andy Chiang

Music, dance and acrobatics are featured in Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company’s  special production for the Chinese New Year.  The company, a favorite among New York and New Jersey audiences, presents a series of events online for a colorful and vibrant celebration on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 11, 12 and 13. Programming highlights the Company’s repertory along with special guests including the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York, the Renaissance Chinese Opera Society, toe tip acrobat Lina Liu, and Master Balancing Acrobat Yang XiaoDi. You won’t want to miss the spectacular Dragon Dance, Lion Dance and performances by two Chinese rappers.

Watson Adventures Lunar New Year courtesy Watson Adventures

NYC-based Watson Adventures is hosting a virtual scavenger hunt for people to virtually celebrate New Year in Asia with Around the World Scavenger Hunt:  The Asia Pacific Game. After watching giant panda Xia Qi Ji frolicking in the snow this week at Washington, DC’s National Zoo, everyone will enjoy a look at these adorable animals in China’s Wolong Grove and more. The one-hour hunt is scheduled for Saturday, February 13 at 4pm for teams of 2-6 people. 

Mansa tea kit courtesy Mansa Tea

What to Eat and Drink

NYC’s Mansa Tea invites you to a traditional tea ceremony led by Ashley Lim, certified tea sommelier and company founder. According to Lim, enjoying tea re-affirms ties of kinship and friendship. Observed differently this year, you can enjoy this tasting event with your friends and families in a socially distanced setting. Tasting kits with a variety of aged teas are sent to your home in advance. If there’s a range of ages in your group, it’s traditional for tea to be served to the oldest person first who then passes it to the youngest.

Mimi Cheng Dumpling Kit courtesy Baldor Specialty Foods

Making dumplings is a family tradition during Lunar New Year. Dumplings, like other foods chosen for the holiday, embody good fortune and family unity.  Baldor Specialty Foods has teamed up with NYC’s popular dumpling shop, Mimi Cheng’s to  deliver a DIY dumpling kit with pork and chive filling, fresh pre-rolled thin dumpling skins, hand-rolled scallion packages, and a bottle of Mimi’s famous “secret” sauce.  

Milu Lunar New Year courtesy Milu

For a full Lunar Year culinary experience, Milu, the new casual Chinese concept from Eleven Madison Park, has arranged a Chinese feast for pick-up. Chef Connie Chung’s eight-dish dinner includes whole salt-baked black bass, shrimp spring rolls, wontons, sesame noodles, Chinese chicken soup, blood orange buns and more.  

Soogil Tteokguk (c) Soogil


Lunar Year is important to Korean families as well. Eaten for good luck, Tteokguk is a beef broth based soup (guk) served with a thinly sliced rice cakes (tteok) as well as seasoned beef, julienned boiled eggs and seaweed. The rice cakes’ round shape resembles coins which symbolize wealth and prosperity in the coming year.  For the holiday, Soogil  will include the soup with all tasting menu orders on February 11 and 12. If you’re in midtown, Yoon Haeundae Galbi invites you to enjoy it in their outdoor structure.

IP-CHUM in the Astor Court courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

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