Ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Philadelphia

Lunar New Year in Philadelphia, things to do in Philly
The annual CultureFest! Lunar New Year celebration culminates with a traditional Lion Dance.
Eddy Marenco for the Penn Museum

This month holds a variety of special occasions celebrating the Year of the Dragon, and it all leads up to the 2024 Lunar New Year in Philadelphia on Feb. 10. 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 in 2024. 

43rd annual CultureFest! Lunar New Year

Penn Museum always goes all out for the Lunar New Year in Philadelphia, and that rings true in 2024. In partnership with the American Center for Asian Students and the National Association for Korean Schools, Penn is officially hosting its 43rd annual CultureFest! Lunar New Year this weekend. On Saturday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the family-friendly festival will feature live music and dance performances, storytelling, Martial Arts demonstrations and even a Lion Dance. 

Highlights include a performance by the Little Mulan Dance Troupe, an Asian zodiac scavenger hunt throughout the Museum, a vendor filled marketplace, a Korean Fan Dance and more. As the release notes, all CultureFest! Lunar New Year activities are included with Museum admission. Children ages five and under, teachers, U.S. military veterans with identification, Penn Museum members, PennCard holders, Penn Medicine patients/families, and staff visit for free. And as a welcome gift for  attendees, each visiting group or family will receive a lucky red envelope containing a special offer from the museum shop upon arrival. 

3260 South St., penn.museum

Ember & Ash

Ember & Ash will host five nights of Chinese-driven dinners beginning Feb. 5, featuring dumplings, noodles, turnip cakes, and a special dessert to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. On top of the food being offered, the restaurant will also feature a specialty cocktail boasting Revivalist Dragon Dance Jalapeno Gin from Brandywine’s Botanery Barn Distilling. As the release notes, Ember & Ash will donate a portion of proceeds from cocktail sales to a local charity and there will also be a special non-alcoholic cocktail available.

However, Feb. 6’s dinner is particularly special—Ember & Ash’s Chef Calhoun will be welcoming in Chef Kurt Evans of Black Dragon Takeout for a “Friends Around the Fire” collaboration dinner. The meal will feature Black American food options served through the “aesthetics of classic Chinese-American takeout.” The five-course dinner is $105 per person and will take place at 6:30 p.m. Reservations for the other Lunar New Year dinner nights (Feb. 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10) are available. 

Lunar New Year in Philadelphia
Lulu Calhoun, the daughter of Chef Scott Calhoun and his wife Lulu, who own Ember & Ash. Mike Prince

1520 E Passyunk Ave., emberandashphilly.com

Franklin Square

Franklin Square will be hosting a Lunar New Year celebration on Feb. 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. The event will feature the Philly Suns Lion Dancers, crafts for children with the Asian Arts Initiative, red envelope surprise giveaways, and a free dumpling workshop with Michael Chow from Sang Kee.

200 N. 6th St., historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square

Bahn Mi & Bottles 

The South Street restaurant is introducing a new monthly series on certain Monday nights (the venue is typically closed this night) to partner with other chefs from Philly. The first event of this series will take place on Feb. 5, and Chef/Owner Tuan Phung and friends will celebrate the Lunar New Year in Philadelphia. 

Fellow Vietnamese chefs Jacob Trinh of Little Fish, Andrew of Café Nhan, Tay Cao of Le Viet, and Victor Nguyen of Ba Le Bakery will serve up a traditional five-course Tết menu. The meal was thoughtfully chosen by each chef, and each dish is meant to be particularly meaningful or nostalgic to them, the release notes. Tickets come out to $88 per person (buying them beforehand to reserve your spot is recommended.) A few Vietnamese cocktails and an optional wine pairing will also be available. 

Lunar New Year in Philadelphia
PJ Agbay

712-14 South St., banhmiandbottles.com