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Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Philadelphia

January 11, 2021

Home to the second largest Chinatown on the East Coast and a vibrant Asian population, it’s no surprise that Philadelphia has many Lunar New Year celebrations each year. New for 2021, many of the city’s events have moved online, allowing participants to celebrate and welcome in the Chinese Year of the Ox safely at home and around the globe.

Stream the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Lunar New Year Celebration Concert

Philadelphia Orchestra performs in Beijing, May 17, 2019. Photo by C. Lee.

The Philadelphia Orchestra – which, in 1973, became the first U.S. Orchestra to visit the China – is moving its annual Lunar New Year Celebration Concert to the Digital Stage in 2021. Available to stream online from February 4-14, the 75-minute concert features the premiere recording of Tan Dun’s Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, as well as a performance of He Zhanhao and Chen Gang’s The Butterfly Lovers, Violin Concerto led by David Robertson. Tickets for the digital performance — the only Lunar New Year celebration planned by a major American orchestra during COVID-19 — are just $15. To learn more, click here.

Savor authentic Chinese cuisine and support restaurants in Chinatown

Photo courtesy Sang Kee Peking Duck House.

Philadelphia’s Chinatown is a bustling neighborhood with a wide variety of restaurants serving authentic Sichuan, Cantonese, Shaanxi, and other Chinese cultural cuisines, as well as other Asian specialties. Ocean Harbor, Sang Kee Peking Duck House, EMei, and Nom Wah Tea Parlor are just a few of the popular options available throughout the district currently offering take-out, delivery, and, in some instances, outdoor dining. For more information on take-out and delivery in Philadelphia, click here.

Search for oxen on display around Philadelphia

Miss Gratz sculpture by J. Clayton Bright courtesy of Brandywine River Museum of Art.

This year marks the Year of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac, and if you look carefully you may just find the prosperous animal represented artistically throughout Philadelphia. Perched atop a pole inscribed with the names of historic doctors on the campus of Thomas Jefferson University is The Winged Ox, Symbol of St. Luke the Physician by artist Henry Mitchell. Continue your ox scavenger hunt by heading to Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where you’ll find an ox sculpture at the base of the Washington Monument. Inside Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, you’ll find several oxen as part of the magnificent Spirit of Transportation relief sculpture near the northeast corner of the building.

More oxen await within the walls of some of Philadelphia’s most celebrated museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art which features several items within their expansive collection that depict the animal, including tin-glazed earthenware jar made in the Netherlands in the early 1700s. A close relative to oxen, cows are also on view within several local museums, including the National Museum of American Jewish History (temporarily closed, with programs available online), which features a life-like cow figure as part of an exhibit on Jewish farmers in the U.S., and the Barnes Foundation, which has an small Egyptian cow statuette on view within its main collection. Keen observers can also spot a cow lounging outside of the Brandywine River Museum of Art in nearby Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

Pictured: Cow figure at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Photo by R. Bloom for PHLCVB.

Shop and celebrate at the Fashion District Philadelphia

The one million square foot Center City shopping and entertainment destination, Fashion District Philadelphia, is welcoming the Year of the Ox through February 28 with festive decorations on view throughout the building, including a 60-foot floating dragon inside its entrance at 9th and Market streets. While inside, shop their collection of local and national brands and take advantage of various red envelope deals (in addition to already tax-free shopping on clothes and shoes). You can also submit Lunar New Year greetings and well wishes via email for a chance to have them displayed on Fashion District Philadelphia’s digital board. To learn more, click here.

Join a virtual Chinatown celebration

Chinatown Friendship Gate. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Traditionally home to midnight lion dances, Lunar New Year parades, and other events, this year Philadelphia’s Chinatown is moving its festivities online, inviting the public to join them for a virtual celebration on February 26 in support of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation and the businesses and restaurants throughout Chinatown that have been impacted by the pandemic. Click here to register.

Ice skate in Center City

Head to the Rothman Orthapedics Ice Rink in Dilworth Park on February 12 from 5-7:00 p.m. to ice skate beside City Hall and enjoy a series of festive performances by Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers and other Lunar New Year activities. The rink will be adorned with festive décor and each skater will receive a lucky red envelope upon check-in for a chance at secret prizes. In response to COVID-19, ice rink capacity is limited and tickets are available to purchase in advance online. Face masks are required and social distancing guidelines will be in place.

Cover image: 2020 Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown. Photo by A. Lee.

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