Your Ultimate Guide to the 2019 Night in Chinatown and Lunar New Year Parade
Celebrate Chinese New Year in Honolulu and ring in the Year of the Pig at Night in Chinatown on Feb. 2.
Update as of January 2020: There will be no Night in Chinatown and Lunar New Year Parade in 2020.
Photo: Brent Wong
A new year means new beginnings for the popular Night in Chinatown festival. The event was abruptly canceled last year due to a lack of funding and poor vendor turnout. But with help from grant money and a partnership with the city, the long-standing Chinese New Year event is back this year. So, if you missed watching lion dances while indulging in traditional Chinese food, see you on Feb. 2.
What It Is
Held since the 1970s, Night in Chinatown features a block party filled with food, games, live entertainment, prizes and cultural demonstrations. The nonprofit Chinatown Merchants Association, which organizes the festival, hopes to have about 100 vendors selling food and drinks and about 30,000 people attending this year. A highlight of the day is the Lunar New Year parade through Chinatown with about 80 performing groups.
Photos: NIGHT IN CHINATOWN
When and Where
The free block party will be from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Smith, Maunakea and Pauahi streets. The parade will go from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., from the state Capitol to Merchant Street and through Chinatown.
Where to Park
You can park in the municipal lots throughout downtown Honolulu and Chinatown. Or try to snag a spot on Vineyard Boulevard. But drivers be warned: There will be multiple street closures in the area throughout the day. For more information, click here. If you can, take the bus, walk or get dropped off. You could also bike to the festival—find the nearest Biki stations here.
What to Eat
Although there will be a spread of traditional Chinese food sold at the block party—jin dui and gau are the most popular—there will also be dishes from other cultures, including Thai, Vietnamese and Hawaiian.
Catch live entertainment and traditional Chinese dances, as well as local artists and cultural demonstrations. Take your children to the kids zone for games and prizes. Don’t forget to bring a dollar for the Chinese lion dances (and be ready for popping firecrackers).
The parade will feature a colorful assortment of community groups from all walks of life, including those ever-present lion dancers, the Royal Hawaiian Band and Girl Scouts.
Check the festival’s website closer to the date of the event for an entertainment lineup.
If you can’t make it to the Lunar New Year parade, watch it on livestream here.
Be prepared for crowds—the event is packed throughout most of the day. If you’re an early bird, head to the block party right when it opens—the crowds are likely to be smaller then. You’re also more likely to get fresh jin dui (the fried balls of dough aren’t as good when they’ve been sitting around).
Give yourself enough time to see all of the sights—at least two hours (not to mention extra time to find parking).
Portable toilets will be located throughout the block party.
Bring cash (we’re told only some vendors will accept cards).
While you’re in Chinatown, head to the Chinatown Cultural Plaza for more entertainment, food and crafts, along with an appearance by the 2019 Narcissus Queen and her court.
For more information, visit chinesenewyearinhawaii.com.