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CELEBRATE YOUR INNER YANG AT LUNAR NEW YEAR EVENTS IN VANCOUVER

February 20, 2015

Among the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, the one representing this coming year presents a particular difficulty.

That’s because the word in Chinese for the symbolic animal for 2015 — “yang” in Mandarin, and “young” in Cantonese — actually covers a whole gaggle of animals.

Is it the Year of the Goat? Some people associate the term with old age, defeat, blame or overall ineptitude.

What about the Year of the Sheep? Some view the sheep as little more than a mindless drone.

The Year of the Ram is sometimes used to convey masculinity, or Year of the Lamb for more general, inoffensive neutrality.

The Chinese character “yang” is used for all these animals, and even can be used to describe a gazelle.

Regardless of which animal you choose to call it, if you are born of this zodiac, rejoice, for this is your year. And Vancouver, with its heavy dose of Asian influence, will be ripe with opportunities for you to celebrate your inner, uh, yang.

In Chinatown, the annual Chinese New Year parade will take place on Sunday, Feb. 22. Performers will include more than the traditional Chinese staples such as dragon and lion dancers; Mexican, Thai and Korean performers will also be among the multicultural lineup.

“We have an old saying in China: ‘At the end of the year, no matter where you are, you have to come home to your family,’” said James Chu, chairman of the Chinese Benevolent Association and one of the key organizers of the parade. “This joy of spending the holidays with your loved ones belongs to everyone, rich or poor, young or old … and this is the joy we want to extend to all communities within our Vancouver family every year.”

This year’s parade will start as usual at the Millennium Gate in Chinatown, then progress down Pender Street, Gore Avenue and Keefer Street. More than 4,000 performers and volunteers are expected to take part in this year’s event, which will likely again draw heavy traffic to Chinatown and surrounding neighbourhoods.

For those looking to Richmond, “celebration central” will undoubtedly be at Aberdeen Centre, the area’s first Asia-centric mall with decades of history. As expected, the New Year’s period — lasting for more than a week before the actual New Year’s Day — is usually the busiest time at Aberdeen, said spokeswoman Joey Kwan.

“The demand is definitely getting bigger,” Kwan said. “It may be aggressive to say so, but our fair is becoming one of the go-to events in the local Chinese New Year’s celebration.

“I would say we not only attract Chinese-Canadian shoppers, but people of all communities. It’s very important for us, therefore, to keep the traditional spirit of the celebrations while also giving it a unique flair. Which makes sense, because that’s what Canada is.”

The focus at Aberdeen will be the annual Flower and Gift Festival. This year’s fair, held Feb. 13-19 during usual mall hours, will include a live countdown of New Year’s Eve on the night of Feb. 18, where festivities will start at 9 p.m. with live television coverage.

More information on the Aberdeen Flower Festival can be found at aberdeencentre.com, and the Chinatown Parade at cbavancouver.ca.

Events around Metro Vancouver:

Chinatown New Year’s Parade

Sunday, 11 a.m. | Chinatown

Tickets and info: Free, cbavancouver.ca

The annual mainstay in Lunar New Year celebrations, this year’s parade will feature 4,000 performers and volunteers from several cultural communities. Starts at the Millennium Gate on Pender Street.

Chinatown New Year’s Cultural Festival

Saturday and Sunday | Chinese Cultural Centre courtyard, Pender Street.

Tickets and info: Free, cbavancouver.ca

This year’s main attraction is the inclusion of vehicles and weapons from the Canadian Armed Forces, which will be available for attendees to interact with.

New Year’s Celebration

Thursday, Feb. 19 to Sunday | International Village, Vancouver

Tickets and info: Free. internationalvillagemall.ca

One of the largest free Lunar New Year events in Vancouver, featuring Chinese calligraphy demonstrations, stage performances, and exhibits galore.

LunarFest

Until Sunday | Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza, Vancouver

Tickets and info: Free, lunarfest.org

Traditionally known for its lantern display, this year will focus on performances like the Dragon Dance, as well as Asian delicacies featured in the Dumpling Fest.

Yaohan Centre Flower Market

New Year celebration Thursday Feb. 19 from 12 p.m., weekend extravaganza Feb 28, 1:30-3:30 p.m. | Yaohan Centre, Richmond

Tickets and info: Free. yaohancentre.com

A highly-attended Richmond mall celebration featuring food stalls, fireworks, acrobat performances, etc.

FlyOver Canada

Until March 5 | Canada Place, Vancouver

Tickets and info: $14.19 to $19.95, flyovercanada.com

Flight of the Dragon, featuring spectacular vistas of Chinese landscapes from an aerial point of view, is a flight-simulation ride that represents something different for getting a taste of China during New Year.

Lunar New Year Gala

Sunday, 5 p.m. | Bell Performing Arts Centre, Surrey.

Tickets and info: $15 to $25., bellperformingartscentre.sd36.bc.ca

Held by the White Rock and South Surrey Chinese Society, this is one of the largest community celebrations outside of Vancouver and Richmond.

VSO Pacific Rim Celebration

Feb. 28, 7:30. p.m. | Orpheum Theatre

Tickets and info: $25 to $70, vancouversymphony.ca

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s annual gala featuring Western and Asian instruments brings a unique, classical touch to Lunar New Year.

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