The Dublin Lunar New Year festival makes its annual return in style this month, with celebrations heralding the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. Sadly, the last time the Rabbit was feted in this city back in 2011, Dublin’s contrary wintry skies rained all over the parade, so organisers will be hoping for more fortuitous climes this time around.
And it seems that they have good reasons for optimism. We’re told that in Chinese culture the Rabbit is regarded as a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity, and that 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope.
This year’s Lunar New Year programme celebrates a time dedicated to enjoying family and the local community, while shining a spotlight on Asian tastes, flavours and customs. There are plenty of family friendly activities to choose from, with artistic displays, ancient tea ceremonies, New Year banquets and delicious walking tours all providing many reasons to be cheerful as the lunar new year rises.
Many of Dublin’s buildings will be lit up in red, with a raft of opportunities to join in online too with a number of digital events in the offing. These include an online exhibition, and the Chinese New Year’s concert organised by The Chinese Embassy.
Oh, and did we mention the K-Pop workshop with Órna from Pink K-Pop Dance? We’ve selected some further highlights for you below…
Mad Hatter’s Chinese Tea Party
There’s a fun-filled day to look forward to at Asia Market on Sunday 29th January, when Alice, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter himself will be visiting Asia Market’s Drury Street outlet as it hosts a unique ‘Year of the Rabbit’ themed Mad Hatter’s Chinese Tea Party Experience.
The magical experience is aimed at children* aged between four and eight years of age, and organisers promise a world of enchantment, with Chinese tea and Asian treats served by the White Rabbit, with traditional Chinese folk tales told by Alice. Those attending also get to take home a fabulous Asia Market goodie bag.
The Mad Hatter’s Chinese Tea Party runs throughout Sunday January 29th between 12pm and 5 pm, and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets costing €20 per child are available on Eventbrite.
Asian Art and Craft Workshops
The Dublin Lunar New Year programme is packed with great creative workshops and opportunities to learn more about Asian culture, but a couple of events in particular caught our eye. For the year that’s in it, Rabbits in Motion is a fun stop-motion workshop at the Hugh Lane on Saturday Jan 28th, where participants aged between seven and ten get to create their own rabbit character and see it hop around the page. Entry is €5 and spaces can be booked here. Artist Hoi-Shan Mak leads a workshop exploring contemporary Chinese painting, where participants get to create ink paintings inspired by Chinese formalism. Tickets cost €35 and booking is essential.
We also love the intricate Lunar New Year challenge set by the Chester Beatty, where participants are encouraged to draw a picture on a grain of rice. Limited to 20 people, this tricky test involves abundant levels of patience and perseverance. The rice grain challenge takes place between 12:15pm and 2:15pm on Sunday January 29th at the Chester Beatty, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.
A Taste of Asia
As ever, food is a huge part of the Lunar New Year programme, with a special Spice Bags Podcast celebrating all things Korean as the trio talk to Soonie Delap and Gunmoo Kim about the various foods and traditions that mark the Korean Lunar New Year. Spicebag co-host Mei Chin also happens to be this year’s Dublin Lunar New Year Ambassador, and the podcast is available from Wednesday January 18th.
Food Writer and Consultant, Ali Dunworth hosts a ‘Flash In The Pan?’ panel discussion dissecting the hottest new South East Asian food trends. We look forward to hearing the views of Asia Market’s Eva Pau, Chef Richie Castillo of Filipino food truck Bahay, Food Blogger Irah Mari Pebredo, along with Robert Hayes and Alex Zhang of Big Fan Bao. The event takes place instore at Asia Market on Sunday Jan 22nd, with an opportunity to taste some of the panel’s favourite flavours.
Meanwhile, Thursday February 2nd sees Asia Market teaming up with Chimac, for a Lunar New Year takeover of the hip Terenure based Korean-influenced fried chicken mecca. This very special experience will see diners being greeted by traditional Chinese lion dancers and drummers, before tucking in to a series of fabulously innovative dishes and cocktails showcasing some hot new flavour combos from across South East Asia.
The Collab sees Bahay‘s Richie Castillo, Chimac’s Owner and Head Chef, Garret Fitzgerald, and Karen Smith of Curated By Karen joining forces behind the Pass, to produce a very special menu celebrating all that’s best in South Asian cuisines. And there’ll be a goodie bag to take home packed with some of South East Asia’s tastiest new trend-setting sweet and savoury snacks for everybody in the audience. Booking essential – tickets here.
Asia Market Restaurant Takeover at Chimac, 7.30pm – 10pm Thursday, February 2nd, Chimac Restaurant, 101 Terenure Rd E, Terenure, Dublin 6.
Hill Street Family Resource Centre Lunar New Year Community Celebration
The afternoon of Saturday January 28th sees Hill Street transformed into a Chinese Wonderland, as Dublin’s North East inner city plays host to a wide range of entertainment and activities. Coordinated by the local Family Resource Centre, activities include a variety of workshops and traditional Chinese music, performances and Lion Dancing. Art and Crafts activities put the spotlight on Paper cutting, Chinese Knot Making, face painting, balloon modelling, Shadow Puppetry and more. There’s also a Traditional Tea Ceremony to look forward to.
Keep an eye on the Hill Street FRC website and social media channels for details.
Saturday Jan 28th, 2pm – 7pm. Free.
Music @ the Museum: Lunar New Year Concert
Dubliners can look forward to a very special Lunar New Year Concert as violinist Chang Liu and harpist Chang Hu perform Music @ The Museum, featuring contemporary and traditional music in the relaxed environs of the Atrium at the Chester Beatty. Members of the Qipao Society Ireland will showcase traditional Chinese costumes, with some delicious traditional Chinese snacks and fare provided by the Asia Market.
6pm, Wednesday January 25th, at the Chester Beatty
Chinese New Year Celebration at UCD Confucius Institute
After all that, UCD’s Confucius Institute closes out this year’s proceedings with a family event celebrating the Chinese New Year, suitable for all ages. Expect traditional music instruments and dancing, a fabulous musical fire flame show, a traditional Chinese realist painting exhibition, vibrant lights and lanterns well as an authentic Asian food market.
Gong xi fa cai!
6pm – 8.30pm Sunday, February 5th, UCD Confucius Institute, Belfield, Dublin 4.
The Dublin Lunar New Year Festival takes place from Saturday Jan 21st to Sunday February 5th 2023.