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2016 Chinese New Year - Celebrating the Year of the Monkey

The 2016 Lunar New Year, China’s biggest and most ceremonious holiday, occurred on February 8th and marked the beginning of the Year of the Monkey, the ninth animal sign in the zodiac. Though China officially operates on the international Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunisolar calendar maintains ceremonial significance. So every year, around the new moon closest to the beginning of spring, Chinese people ring in the beginning of a new annual cycle — a chance to honor one’s ancestors and prepare for the good fortune to come. With Los Angeles boasting one of the most diverse Asian populations in the world, festivals and events across the city allowed for residents to celebrate the new year in style. Listed below are some of Los Angeles’ most famous New Years events.

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Chinese New Year Festival and Entry Gate to Historic Chinatown ; Photos by Grace Lennon

Midnight Temple Ceremony

Los Angeles’ Chinatown kicked off the Year of the Monkey at Thien Hau Temple (750 Yale Street) in a rich cultural and historical celebration on Chinese New Year Eve. Crowds gathered at the temple to make offerings to the deities and awaken the spirits with firecrackers, incense and lion dancers. Here is a Los Angeles Times video of the amazing event!

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Thien Hau Temple ; Photo by Grace Lennon

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Thien Hau Temple -Interior ; Photo by Grace Lennon

117th Golden Dragon Parade

The celebration continued through Saturday, Feb. 13th, with the 117th Annual Golden Dragon Parade, the oldest parade of its kind in America and drawing more than 150,000 attendees. Multicolored dragons danced their way down Hill and Broadway as paradegoers set off party poppers — filling the streets with yellow, red and green streamers in celebration. Diverse floats, marching bands and a variety of decorated cars carrying celebrities and politicians also populated the parade, along with many others from the Southern California Chinese community.

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117th Golden Dragon Parade ; Photos by Grace Lennon

The Chinese New Years Festival

After the parade, the celebration continued with performers, food trucks and more at The Chinese New Year Festival, located throughout historic Chinatown. The festival included stages hosting bands and dancing, arts, children’s activities and hands-on cultural workshops. Confetti poppers were available for purchase throughout the festival, and LA’s hottest gourmet food trucks lined the alleys and streets.

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Chinese New Years Festival ; Photos by Grace Lennon

Chinese New Years around the World

In China, the New Year is bigger than Christmas and Thanksgiving combined! Beijing, Guangzhou, Xian and Pingyao all have authentic folk activities, while offices and schools close nationwide and tens of millions of migrant workers head to their hometowns for two weeks to celebrate. Click here to catch a glimpse at the traditional bell-ringing ceremony in Beijing, accompanied by fireworks.

Cities around the world that have received a large number of Chinese immigrants over the years also hold their own celebrations for the New Year. In New York City, for instance, all public schools are closed on Monday to commemorate the holiday. The Lunar New Year festivities are also observed by Vietnamese and Koreans, as well as Tibetans, whose first day of celebration falls on Tuesday. Click here for photos of festivities from London to the Philippines.

To find out more about Chinese New Year and LA’s Historic Chinatown, visit http://www.chinatownla.com/.