Chicago in U.S. Midwest will celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year citywide from Jan. 24 to Feb. 9 with cultural performances, colorful parades and special events to usher in the Year of the Rat, the organizers of the activities said Tuesday.
The celebrations will start with an opening event at the Chicago Cultural Center on Jan. 24.
Following the Chinese New Year Concert that will debut at Chicago Symphony Center on Jan. 26, jointly presented by the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra and the Zhejiang Shaoju Opera Theatre, the Aon Grand Ballroom in Navy Pier will be turned into a festive Chinese marketplace featuring festive decor, bold costumes, customary music and dance performances, traditional food, and crafts.
Two Chinese Lunar New Year parades will be held in the Chinatown neighborhood and the Uptown neighborhood, respectively, when marching bands, colorful floats, traditional lion dancing will convey the festive mood of Chinese New Year to local residents.
The Art Institute of Chicago will host a multi-generational event to celebrate the Year of the Rat featuring art making, music, games, an artist demonstration, a performance about the traditional animals of the zodiac, and gallery talks in English and Mandarin.
The Chinese Fine Arts Society will host a Lantern Procession through Millennium Park to Maggie Daley Park, followed by more New Year's activities including a lion dance performance, art making, and ice skating.
The Chicago Blackhawks will join the Chicago Bulls to celebrate the Chinese New Year during its game with Winnipeg Jets this year. Traditional Chinese lion and dragon dances will be staged during the game.
Throughout the citywide Chinese New Year celebrations, visitors to Fashion Outlets of Chicago and The Shops at North Bridge in downtown Chicago are expected to receive red envelopes containing exclusive Lunar New Year offers from participating stores.
"Chinese New Year is the most important traditional festival for the Chinese people, embodying our cultural traditions and anesthetic values," said Chinese Consul General in Chicago Zhao Jian at a news conference with regard to celebrations of Chinese New Year.
Zhao numerated the Chinese art groups that have visited and performed in Chicago for the Chinese New Year celebrations in the past years, saying their performances not only brought to local people the opportunity to enjoy the glamour of Chinese culture, but also "enhanced the mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples."
"Chinese New Year is always a cultural highlight for the city of Chicago," said Choose Chicago President and CEO David Whitaker. "The festivities and celebrations that mark the Chinese New Year holiday are a great way to showcase the artistic excellence of the participating cultural institutions and celebrate our special relationship with both Chinese visitors and our local Chinese community that call Chicago home."
"Chicago Chinatown is one of the largest in North America," said Mark Kelly, commissioner of Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events under the Chicago City Government. "Chicago is a proud home of such vibrant Chinese community that celebrates its rich culture traditions with gusto."
The year of 2020 will be the seventh year in a row for the U.S. third largest city to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 25 this year.