(credit: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
If you love the Chinese New Year, 2014 gives an extra reason to love celebrating it, since this year the lunar new year coincides with Valentine’s Day weekend. Beginning with the new moon on January 31, two weeks of festivities lead up to the full moon on Saturday, February 15, 2014 to welcome in the Year of the Horse. With San Jose recognized as home to the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam, the South Bay hosts Tet festivals as well as Chinese celebrations.
Bing Concert Hall
327 Lasuen St.
Stanford, CA 94025
Date: Feb. 1, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Music director Jindong Cai conducts the Stanford Symphony Orchcestra in a Chinese New Year’s Concert featuring the Yellow River Piano Concerto, Chinese Folksongs for the violin and orchestra plus Pipa Concerto “Taichi.” Co-sponsored by the Confucius Institute at Stanford University and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, it’s a great opportunity to experience the new Bing Concert Hall and its outstanding acoustics. A daytime family concert and an evening concert are scheduled. Soloists include pianist Rueibin Chen, violinist Suli Xue and Cong Zhao on the pipa, a four-stringed Chinese instrument. Tickets are priced from $10 to $30.
Santa Clara Fairground
344 Tully Road
San Jose, CA 95111
Date: Feb. 1, 2014 at 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Feb. 2, 2014 at 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Lunar New Year is called Tet in Vietnamese and falls under the same moon as the Chinese celebration. Organizers are planning fireworks, lion dances, beauty pageants, concerts, comedy acts, fashion shows and a singing talent contest. The fairgrounds can accommodate 30,000 people, so this should be Northern California’s biggest party for the nation’s largest Vietnamese-American community. Join the crowd to welcome in the new year with traditional Vietnamese rice cakes, roasted watermelon seeds, kumquats and sweet dried fruits.
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
255 Almaden Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95113
Date: Jan. 26, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
This sixth annual East-meets-West extravaganza celebrates the Asian New Year in all of its diverse cultural heritages. The full-scale production offers a variety show of dance, music, kung fu, magic, acrobatics, as well as the 60-foot dragon performing with 200 artists in The Legend of the Dragon King. The program also includes two new works, colorful dances and a tribute to the 12 animal zodiac signs. Tickets start at $25.
535 E. Santa Clara St.
San Jose, CA 95112
Consider celebrating the lunar new year by experiencing the flavors of a traditional good luck meal at one of the top-rated authentic Vietnamese restaurants for miles around. Get beyond food trucks, the banh mi sandwich and pho noodle soup to discover what Vietnamese families enjoy for their new year meals. San Jose’s “Little Saigon” is the largest Vietnamese community outside the home country, so you won’t go wrong at this widely acclaimed family-run gem.
San Jose Museum of Art
110 S. Market St.
San Jose, CA 95113
Date: Feb. 1, 2014 at 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The highlight is an outdoor Lion Dance on the plaza performed by the Rising Phoenix Lion Dancers at 1 p.m. Additional music performances and hands-on art making activities geared at both young people and adults take place throughout the day. Admission to the museum in the heart of downtown San Jose is free all day.
Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she’s a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on Examiner.com.