Celebrate Family-friendly Lunar New Year in the Bay Area - 510 Families
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Celebrate Family-friendly Lunar New Year in the Bay Area

The Year of the Ox has arrived! Here are some ideas to help your children celebrate the Lunar New Year and the cultures of many local families. Given the current Covid-19 health order restrictions, gathering to celebrate may not be possible, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate, with virtual options, crafts, books and movies, and yummy food to eat. Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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Bay Area Lunar New Year Virtual Offerings

Asian Art Museum Lunar New Year Storytelling Program

Thursday, January 28, 6:00 PM
Ring in the Year of the Ox with festive stories of animals and beasts. Hear from the museum’s talented storytellers and docents about how the rat became the first symbol of the zodiac and learn about the ox in Asian art. Recommended for ages 10 and up, but all are welcome so gather the whole family for this fun and festive virtual program to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  Tickets $0-$25 here>>

Santa Clara Library Mae Lin and the Magic Brush virtual puppet show

Saturday, January 30, 10 am – 11 am
Recommended for all ages, this virtual puppet show is based loosely on an old Chinese tale of a young girl who is given a magic brush that can make anything she paints come to life! Eventbrite registration is required. Registration will end on Saturday, January 30 at 8 am. Participants who have registered will be given access credentials on January 30 by 9 am. Register for free here >>

Dragon Dance Activity Bags, Alameda

Wednesday, February 3, 10 am – 2 pm
Swing by the College of Alameda Childcare Center to pick up a fun-filled Chinese New Year activity bag for children under age 5.  More details here >

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Lunar New Year Lantern Workshop with Margaret Jarrett-Eshia

Wednesday, February 10, 5 pm – 6:30 pm
Create fabulous Lunar New Year Lanterns with supplies from around your house! A great way to encourage your kids to re-purpose junk mail, gift wrapping from the holidays, magazines, envelopes, clean food wrappers, cereal boxes and napkins. Remember during your foraging that traditional lunar new year colors are red, yellow, gold, black and white with other colors sprinkled in. The project is open to your imagination! This workshop is open to all ages and is presented by Youth Art Exchange with support from the California Arts Council. Register for free here >>

Lunar Chinese New Year Puppet Show with Kids Go Mandarin

Thursday, February 11, 9 am, 11:30 am, or 4:30 pm
Celebrate the music and culture of Chinese New Year with a live, online puppet show with Mandarin music, stories, and puppet show. There will also be paper crafts. Although no Mandarin experience is needed, most of the event will be conducted in Mandarin with key words translated into English. Register for free here >>

Lunar New Year Author Visit With Oliver Chin

Thursday, February 11, 5 pm – 6 pm
Celebrate Lunar New Year with author Oliver Chin! Oliver will read his book, The Year of the Ox, one of the books in his Tales From the Chinese Zodiac series. Register for free here >>

Lunar New Year at Filoli

Saturday, February 13, time TBD
From the comfort of your home, join in on virtual talks, demonstrations and more to celebrate the Lunar New Year with the folks at Filoli gardens. More information here >>

Oakland Asian Cultural Center Lunar New Year Celebration

Friday February 12 – Friday February 19
A week-long festival of virtual programs that highlight various Asian countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year such as China, Vietnam, Korea, and more. OACC will present engaging, diverse pre-recorded content with performances, demonstrations, and classes to be launched on their YouTube Channel. More information here >>

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SF Symphony Virtual Celebration: Year of the Ox

Saturday, February 20, 3 pm to 5:30 is Virtual VIP broadcast and 4 pm is NBC Bay Area broadcast
The San Francisco Symphony is performing a digital concert event hosted by Joan Chen, and featuring SF Symphony musicians, and other special guests. This event highlights themes of prosperity, unity, and growth in a program celebrating China’s vibrant musical traditions, past and present. Learn more >

Chinese New Year Parade Special

Saturday, February 20, 6 pm on KTVU Channel 2
Watch the annual parade in all its colorful glory from home this year. Order some take-out and watch the parade with your family. At least it’ll be warmer than if you were there! More information here >>

ox sculpture lunar new year
“Celebrate Diversity” by The Parade Guys in SF Chinatown | Photo: Ron Grospe @7by7sf

Chinese New Year Ox Sculpture Hunt in San Francisco

February 3 – March 14
In conjunction with the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco commissioned 11 life-sized Oxen sculptures to be publicly displayed across San Francisco. You can hunt from all 11 around San Francisco from Feb. 3 – March 14. They’re all different. Great for taking selfies with! (No climbing, kids, sorry) Check out the map and more information here >>

Lunar New Year Craft Ideas

Chinese Red Envelopes Craft

Traditionally money is the gift of choice during the Lunar New Year celebration, typically handed out in vibrant red envelopes. Add a bit of fun to the tradition by making your own blinged-out envelopes for the occasion. This version from Sue over at First Palette is great because it comes with a handy printable template! Head over to First Palette to get started >>

Hanging Citrus Fruit Paper Craft

Tangerines and oranges are good luck and symbolize wealth for the new year. Brighten up your house with this adorable craft by Chelsey at Buggy and Buddy. Don’t worry, for those of us who aren’t the craftiest, it’s pretty easy to make with colored paper, brown yarn, scissors, and glue. Find the tutorial here >>

Mini Lunar New Year Sensory Kit

Not a craft per se, this cute little sensory kit from Petit Advocate is great for kids 3+ (pictured above). A happy bonus – 20% of the proceeds go to the East Bay Asian Youth Center. Buy one here >>

Paper Lantern Craft for the Lunar New Year

There are a ton of paper lantern craft ideas on the internet, but these little mini versions are just that perfect version of cute that your little ones are sure love. The addition of the hearts make them perfect for Valentine’s Day too, so two birds with one stone! Check out the craft at The Craft Train here >>

Brooklyn Robot Foundry Lunar Lantern

If you don’t want to craft your own lantern, try this cool version from Brooklyn’s Robot Foundry. Buy yours here >>

glowfari cheetah scene chinese lanterns
All over the Oakland Zoo are glowing fields of giant nature scenes at Glowfari | Photo: Annie Reid

Lunar New Year Books and Movies to Enjoy with Kids

My First Chinese New Year, by Karen Katz

A fun lift-the-flap book to add to your collection that’ll introduce your littlest ones to the traditional festivities of the Chinese New Year. Buy on Amazon or check your local bookseller.

How to Catch a Dragon, by Adam Wallace

A bright appealing picture book that’ll enliven reading time and bring out many Chinese New Year themes. Buy on Amazon or check your local bookseller.

Look! What Do You See?: An Art Puzzle Book of American and Chinese Songs, by Bing Xu

For your older kids (ages 7+), you’ll find this puzzle book both visually stunning and mentally challenging for the codebreakers in your family. Buy on Amazon or check your local bookseller.

Over the Moon (Netflix)

A fun cartoon movie with Chinese culture and genres, probably best for kids 6+. Check it out on Common Sense Media to read reviews. Watch it on Netflix >>

Born in China (Disney+)

For the animal lovers in your family, this delightful documentary follows the adventures of three animal families — the majestic panda, the savvy golden monkey and the elusive snow leopard.  Watch it on Disney+

Magical Outing: Glowfari

Celebrate Lunar New Year, animals, conservation, and the glorious Bay Area skyline in one gigantic outing. Glowfari is open to the public from February 5 through March 13.

10 East Bay Restaurants Kids Love to Celebrate the Year of the Ox

Child slurping ramen noodles
Slurp up some noodles at Shiba Ramen | Photo provided by Public Market Emeryville
  1. Anchalee (Berkeley) | Thai take out. The food is very good, staff is friendly and my daughter inhales their fried rice. We pack sticker books and markers to keep her happy during boring grown-up conversations. – Janet O. Website.
  2. Bowl’d (Albany + Alameda + Oakland) | Korean pick up or delivery. I love that they give little smoothies and kid chopsticks and bowls. – Anne C. Website.
  3. Mint Leaf (W. Berkeley + Alameda) | Vietnamese restaurant take out at either location. Try the Cha Gio rolls. Website.
  4. Ohgane Korean (Oakland, Alameda, Concord) | Korean BBQ for take out. Website.
  5. Oori Rice Triangles (Albany, Oakland) | My family and so many friends LOVE the takeout from Oori Rice triangles – Carol B. Website.
  6. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (Emeryville) | Asian Fusion Chain with carry out. Order online or with their app and take advantage of Bay Street’s 15 minute free parking for food carryout. Website.
  7. Renee’s Place (Albany) | Wonderful neighborhood restaurant where Renee herself enjoys greeting the regulars of all ages, and knows how to accommodate multi-generational parties very well. – Holly L. Website.
  8. Shen Hua (Elmwood) | Chinese take out or delivery. Tasty and noisy Chinese where your child’s voice blends into the background. – Heather. Website.
  9. Shiba Ramen (Emeryville) | Slurp up noodles as plain or adorned as your kid wants. Website.
  10. Toss Noodle Bar (Berkeley) | Order carry out of mixed Asian flavors. Dress your noodles however you like. {See Whitney’s review of TossWebsite.

Sweet treats for a sweet new year

Cupcakes by Eileen, Alameda

chinese new year cupcakes
Chinese New Year cupcakes in fortune cake flavor | Photo and creation by Bakes by Eileen

These beautiful cupcakes are flavored by fa gao (aka fortune cake) with a dark brown sugar cake with adzuki red bean paste filling and vanilla meringue buttercream. Buy a dozen minis >

What will you do to celebrate??

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