Honolulu Festival Night in Chinatown is a Go for Lunar New Year Celebrations

After a sudden cancellation in 2018, this year's event, set for Feb. 2, is expected to feature about 100 vendors and 80 performing groups.

Update as of January 2020: There will be no Night in Chinatown and Lunar New Year Parade in 2020.


Lion Dance
PhotoS: Brent Wong


If you missed walking through Chinatown during Chinese New Year last year armed with jian dui and char siu bao while watching lion dances and fireworks, get ready because the popular Night in Chinatown festival is back.


Last year, the longstanding event was canceled just a few days before because of a lack of funding and poor vendor turnout. But Leonard Kam, who looks forward to celebrating Chinese New Year in Chinatown, a tradition started by his grandparents, says this year is a different story.


SEE ALSO: Your Ultimate Guide to the 2019 Honolulu Festival


Lion Dance


With the help of a few grants and a partnership with the city, Night in Chinatown is scheduled to return on Feb. 2. Kam, one of the event’s organizers, says they tweaked the fees charged to vendors to ensure that it would be affordable, an issue they struggled with last year. The city is providing help with parade logistics and the permitting process, he says.


“There’s excitement, but we’re also really proud that we can do it,” says Kam, a contact lens salesman who volunteers to coordinate the festival along with about 10 of his “ragtag group of friends,” as he describes them. “Last year a lot of people were disappointed with it being canceled. We’re just happy that we can put an event back on that’s so well received and enjoyed by the community.”


Lion Dance


The popular festival, which draws about 10,000 people, will begin with a block party that typically fills Smith, Maunakea and Pauahi streets from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Kam says they have so far confirmed about half of the 100 vendors and are working on the other half. They opened online signups for the first time this year, which seems to have helped streamline the process. A parade through Chinatown will follow at 4:30 p.m. with about 80 groups. The event will also feature live entertainment, fireworks, food, games and cultural demonstrations.


For more information, visit chinesenewyearinhawaii.com.


Honolulu Magazine featured Night in Chinatown in a story (“A Journey of Ethnic Proportions”) in our January issue. If you’d like to read more about what it takes to plan and run the event, along with four other popular ethnic festivals in Honolulu, pick up a copy on newsstands now.