This month holds a variety of special occasions celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, and it all kicks off this weekend by celebrating the Lunar New Year in Philadelphia. The event is also called (by some) the Chinese New Year, although to others the two hold different meanings: According to history.com, the Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, and the lunar calendar is a calendar based on complete cycles of phases of the Moon.
In the easiest of terms, the Chinese New Year marks the start of a new lunar year, so although there is some debate, it’s not completely out of left field to correlate the two. To celebrate the festive holiday, Philly spots are hosting special events and delicious treats, and here is where to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Philadelphia this month.
Philadelphia Orchestra’s Lunar New Year Concert
The first event for the holiday to kick off in Philly comes from the Philadelphia Orchestra. This Friday, Jan 6, at 7:30 p.m., the Orchestra will perform the North American premiere of “Echoes of Ancient Tang Poems.”
Conducted by Lio Kuokman—a former assistant conductor of the Orchestra—this celebration will honor the Year of the Rabbit with a performance of works inspired by ancient Chinese lyrical texts with singers from around the world, a release states. The concert will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Orchestra’s historic 1973 tour of China.
42nd annual CultureFest! Lunar New Year
Penn Museum always goes all out for the Lunar New Year in Philadelphia, and that rings true in 2023. In partnership with the American Chinese Museum, Penn is officially hosting its 42nd annual CultureFest! Lunar New Year. On Saturday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the family-friendly festival will features live music and dance performances, storytelling, art-making for all ages, and a marketplace filled with vendors.
Highlights include a dance performance from the Little Mulan Dance Troupe from the Great Wall Chinese School, storytelling about the Lunar New Year, musical performances with traditional Chinese instruments, live performances from the Philadelphia Chinese Opera Society and more. And for the grand finale, a traditional Lion Dance, will be performed by the University of Pennsylvania’s premier lion dance troupe, Penn Lions.
All CultureFest! Lunar New Year activities are included with Museum admission. Children ages five and under, teachers, U.S. military veterans with identification, as well as Penn Museum members visit for free.
3260 South Street, penn.museum
For a tasty way to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Philadelphia, bubble tea brand Gong cha has decided to offer a special activation that kicks off the Year of the Rabbit. On Saturday, Jan. 21, Gong cha will distribute traditional Chinese red envelopes (known as hóngbāo) to guests with any purchase.
According to a release, the envelopes symbolize prosperity and good luck in Chinese and other East Asian cultures, and are a customary gift during Lunar New Year. Select envelopes will contain surprise offers such as a free topping, drink discounts, and even a chance to win Free Gong cha for a Year.
Gong Cha has two Philly locations: Arch Street and in the Wing Phat Plaza on Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia.