How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Atlanta

Red lanterns are a must-have for celebrating Chinese New Year. (Photo by Tran Huy/Unsplash)

Chinese New Year is one of the most important festivals in China. It marks the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. The Year of the Dragon begins Feb. 10. People born in the Years of the Dragon — 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012 and 2024 — are said to be intelligent, confident, lively and gracious, according to various sources. 

Atlanta’s diverse culture, international shopping and dining scene create a great opportunity to feel and experience the vibe and culture of Asia during Chinese New Year. Here are some fun activities and things to do during Chinese New Year.

Stone Mountain Park Plans Lunar New Year Festival

Stone Mountain Park invites you to a Lunar New Year Festival Feb. 10 and 11; 17-19; and 24 and 25. The festival features a Lunar New Year drone and light show, a new lighted parade, cultural craft activities, live entertainment and other cultural elements. You will have the chance to enjoy traditional dance, cultural music, educational crafts, dragon and lion dance teams, and signature foods.

You may learn calligraphy, watch yo-yo demonstrations and knot tying from certified instructors from the Chinese Cultural School of Atlanta. More things to do are to snap a photo of yourself with ambassadors dressed in cultural dress and visit the lighted reflection walkway to offer well wishes and prayers for a prosperous new year.  The evening closes with the Lunar New Year light show projecting images on the mountain along with immersive lights and special effects. Then, bang, there’s a fireworks finale.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta Presents a Dance Performance

The Children’s Museum of Atlanta celebrates the Lunar New Year with a performance by the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company on Feb. 3.

Shop Asian Supermarkets

Shoppers can find exotic fruits and vegetables in Buford Highway Farmers Market. (Photo by S. Bell)

From Buford Highway Farmers Market to Great Wall Supermarket in Duluth, you can always find the perfect place to shop for exotic ingredients and international flavors.

Serve Foods that Bring Good Luck

A typical hot pot setup includes a pot with soup at the center of the table and raw foods ready to be cooked. (Photo by Silei Li)

With special symbolism and meanings of wealth, happiness, longevity and reunion, foods like fish, dumplings, spring rolls, rice cakes and noodles are common for a Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner. In addition to these lucky foods, you can also find fresh East Asian ingredients and soup base for hot pot, which is a popular Chinese cooking method perfect for a family or friends’ reunion.

Decorations and Traditions

Red decorations and tiger-relevant elements are necessary to make your home festive. Some classic decorations are red lanterns, New Year couplets, paper cuttings of a tiger, red paper with a Chinese character of Fu “福” (fortune) and tiger crafts. Red packets (envelopes) make perfect gifts for your close family and friends. Get a full stack of red packets from the supermarkets at a low price (Insider tip: Some Asian markets even give them away for free with purchase). Before handing out the red packets to your kids, parents or friends on New Year’s Eve, put some money, known as lucky money, into the red packets as it represents wrapping a year of good fortune and blessings in the packets to your loved ones.

Try out some popular Chinese treats and snacks for the New Year including sweet rice cakes, ginger candies, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Sweep and Decorate your Home

Decorate with red paper showing the character “Fu” and firecrackers. (Photo by Lily Leiva)

Get prepared for the New Year by cleaning your home and decorating it with red decorations one week ahead. Remember to sweep the floors, furniture, walls and every corner of your home as it means sweeping out the bad luck from the past year and welcoming the upcoming good luck. Similarly, display the red decorations on your doors and walls as they frighten the bad luck away and deliver best wishes.

Order Authentic Chinese Takeout

Try Chinese barbecue takeout from Crazy Skewers. (Photo by Silei Li)

Want to enjoy an authentic, festive and flavorful Chinese meal on New Year’s Eve? You can’t go wrong on Buford Highway. Here are some Chinese restaurants organized by cuisine and cooking style along the famous Buford Highway.

Listen to Chinese New Year Songs

During the Chinese New Year, you can always hear joyful and catchy songs everywhere in China. Check your favorite music source for classic and festive Chinese New Year songs to play while celebrating the New Year at home.

Stroll through Spring Colors

Immerse yourself in blossoms at Fuqua Orchid Center at Atlanta Botanical Garden. (Photo by Joleen Pete)

In southern China, flower markets usually open three days ahead of the Chinese New Year. They kick off the holiday season and bring the festive spirit with colorful displays of flowers, food stalls, zodiac animal-related crafts and souvenirs. Families or friends visit the flower markets together, purchase auspicious flowers and plants for good wishes for the upcoming New Year. 

As a flower market alternative in Atlanta, visit Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Orchid Daze, which runs from Feb. 14 through April 14. The 2024 Orchid Daze exhibit features an exhibition of Atlanta artist Lillian Blades’ mixed media works set among a lush, colorful flowering landscape.

Don’t forget to check this list to find out other locations to see spring colors in Atlanta at the beginning of the Chinese New Year.

Enjoy Fireworks Safely

Nothing beats the excitement and enjoyment of watching colorful fireworks lighting up the sky. With family and friends around on New Year’s Eve, it’s a great time to enjoy beautiful fireworks together. Order some fireworks and firecrackers online or purchase at stores. Launch them safely from your backyard and make a good wish for the New Year.

For further adventure, Explore Excellent Asian Experiences at These Atlanta Restaurants.

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