2022’s Best Cities to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Young Chinese girl in traditional dress being handed a gift

Time to put some fresh sheets on your bed, get yourself some new shoes, and carve out some extra time to spend with your loved ones – Chinese New Year has arrived.

But which U.S. city is best for ringing in the Year of the Water Tiger?

To mark the Lunar New Year that kicks off Feb. 1, Lawn Love ranked 2022’s Best Cities to Celebrate Chinese New Year. 

We searched for cities with big Chinese and Asian American communities and plenty of new year events. We also looked at the weather forecast and safety in each city, as well as the fireworks legality in each state. 

Use our rankings and in-depth analysis to get a lucky start.

In this article

  1. City rankings
  2. Results in depth
  3. Expert take
  4. Methodology
  5. Final words: Wealth of community

City rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Infographic showing the best cities to celebrate Chinese New Year, a ranking based on the size of the Chinese community, access to Chinese restaurants, the number of Chinese New Year festivals, and more
Note: We ranked 200 cities in each of the above metrics. However, the lowest-ranking position may not be 200 for some metrics due to a significant number of ties.

Results in depth

New Year in New York

New Yorkers get a fortunate start in the year as the top city in our ranking. The Big Apple has the largest population of Asian Americans, Chinese Americans, and Chinese immigrants, which ultimately leads to plenty of events and restaurants at which to celebrate. 

While the weather isn’t looking as favorable for New Yorkers, being cooped up inside can be a great opportunity to bond with your family over a game of Mahjong or Dou Dizhu — just be sure to take precautions and avoid large, unmasked gatherings. 

Local tip: After strolling through New York’s historic Chinatown, stop by the Museum of Chinese in America. MOCA encourages visitors to view history with a critical perspective. This year, MOCA will host a week of free virtual events to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Feeling lucky out West

It may not come as a surprise that many of our top cities lie in the West, especially California, where many Chinese immigrants first settled during the Gold Rush. 

Head over to San Francisco (No. 2), Los Angeles (No. 3), Las Vegas (No. 4), or Oakland (No. 5). These cities scored well for their large Chinese communities, festive Chinatowns, and ample events to ring in the new year.

Start the new year with delicious dumplings in San Fran, a city with an average of seven Chinese restaurants per square mile. For better weather, travel south to LA. If you’re feeling extra lucky, hit up the Vegas casinos and celebrate at one of the city’s events or festivals. 

Local tip: San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Festival & Parade on Feb. 19 is an internationally acclaimed event, attracting more than 3 million spectators each year. 

In LA, there are plenty of events to attend and follow with a bite to eat in the historic Chinatown neighborhood. 

Celebr(Asian) time

There are many ways to celebrate the beginning of a new year, but some cities will feel more festive than others. In addition to our top cities, those teeming with events include Philadelphia (No. 6), Chicago (No. 7), and Washington, D.C. (No. 18). 

Fireworks are traditionally said to repel evil spirits and bad luck during the new year, so California residents in Orange (No. 36), Pasadena (No. 59), and Garden Grove (No. 27) are going to feel lucky with good weather for shooting off fireworks throughout the Spring Festival. (Just be sure to note local laws and restrictions on fireworks usage before setting them off.) 

Local tip: In Philly, visit Parkway Central Library to watch martial arts, Chinese opera, and other folk dance and music performances, or learn how to cook Chinese dumplings at the Dumpling Academy

Have a harmonious start

Looking to relax during the Lunar New Year? Celebrants in Naperville, Illinois (No. 62), as well as Texas cities El Paso (No. 23) and Laredo (No. 32) can get some peace of mind this holiday knowing they’re in some of the safest cities for gathering with loved ones. These three cities dominated the top of our Safety category.

Fortune frowns on the South

Some smaller cities in the South fell to the bottom of our rankings, failing to impress in any of the categories. Good luck to revelers in Shreveport, Louisiana (No. 200), Macon, Georgia (No. 198), and Montgomery, Alabama (No. 197), where lack of events and a lower safety rank bode a rough start to your year.

Expert take

What distinguishes Chinese New Year celebrations from other New Year festivities? We turned to some experts to gift us with their wisdom about this holiday and what our luck might look like for the coming year. 

  1. It’s the Year of the Water Tiger. What does that mean for babies born this year?
  2. What is one iconic dish everyone should try at a traditional Chinese New Year festival?
  3. What is the best way to ring in the Lunar New Year?
  4. What are your three best tips for maximizing good luck in the new year?
  5. What are your top three tips for staying safe during Chinese New Year celebrations?
  6. What will Chinese New Year celebrations look like this year amid Omicron?
Norman Kutcher
Professor, History
Dongwang Liu, Ph.D.
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Norman Kutcher
Professor, History
Syracuse University

It’s the Year of the Water Tiger. What does that mean for babies born this year?

I’m no astrologer, but I do have good Chinese language skills, so I read extensively online pertaining to this question. My favorite Chinese website advised that since having a child is such a great thing overall, there’s no bad year to have one.

A child born as a water tiger, they did go on to say, would be tough on his or her parents when young, but then a great comfort in old age. Isn’t that parenthood generally?

What is one iconic dish everyone should try at a traditional Chinese New Year festival?

Without a doubt, the answer is dumplings (sometimes called potstickers or jiaozi, in Chinese). They’re usually filled with meat and vegetables, but there are also fish and vegetarian varieties as well. It’s easy to make so-so ones, but to get them right requires years of training.

I once spent an entire year of Saturdays visiting a Chinese family in Beijing, the home of great dumplings. They resolved to teach me to make them, but by the end of the year I’d never gotten past the first step—mixing the dough. It really is challenging to get it all right.

What is the best way to ring in the Lunar New Year?

Sharing a meal with people you love.

What are your three best tips for maximizing good luck in the new year?

  1. Be kind to others, it’s contagious.
  2. Try to see things the way other people see them.
  3. Remember to take care of yourself.

What are your top three tips for staying safe during Chinese New Year celebrations?

  1. Don’t overindulge in alcohol.
  2. Don’t set off fireworks (a traditional way of observing the new year) unless you have adequate training.
  3. Don’t engage in arguments with family members, especially over politics.

What will Chinese New Year celebrations look like this year amid Omicron?

In China, where people traditionally return home for the new year, celebrations will be scaled back. The government is still urging people not to travel or gather in groups.

Dongwang Liu, Ph.D.
Adjunct Assistant Professor
University of Iowa

It’s the Year of the Water Tiger. What does that mean for babies born this year?

The Year Water Tiger happens every 60 years according to the Chinese zodiac. Some fortune tellers say that the babies born this year will be smart and brave as a tiger.

What is one iconic dish everyone should try at a traditional Chinese New Year festival?

For someone raised in northern China as I was, folks normally eat the Chinese dumpling called Jiaozi. The fillings are normally a mixture of vegetables and pork or beef wrapped with wrappers made of dough.

What is the best way to ring in the Lunar New Year?

The best way to ring in the Lunar New Year is to stay safe and healthy. Clean the house, make things tidy, and be environment friendly.

What are your three best tips for maximizing good luck in the new year?

To maximize good luck, a person should have a low profile, make life simpler, and know what really matters in life.

What are your top three tips for staying safe during Chinese New Year celebrations?

I will make sure I have adequate physical exercises each week, wear a mask when I have to meet people or do my shopping. I would rather stay home than travel.

What will Chinese New Year celebrations look like this year amid Omicron?

Amid Omicron, everyone should be alert and avoid large gatherings. People can socialize virtually.

Methodology

We ranked the 200 biggest U.S. cities from best to worst (1-200) based on their overall scores (out of 100 points), averaged across the weighted metrics listed below.

Weather data and COVID-19 infections and vaccinations data were collected on Jan. 27.

Please note that local and county legality of fireworks may differ from state rules.

Community

  • Chinese Population
    • Weight: 3
    • Biggest Value = Best
  • Asian Population
    • Weight: 2
    • Biggest Value = Best
  • Chinese Cultural Meetup Groups
    • Weight: 1
    • Biggest Value = Best

Celebration

  • Has a Chinatown (1 = Yes, 0 = No)
    • Weight: 3
    • Biggest Value = Best
  • Chinese Restaurants per Square Mile
    • Weight: 2
    • Biggest Value = Best
  • Chinese New Year Events and Festivals
    • Weight: 2
    • Biggest Value = Best
  • Fireworks Allowed in State (2 = Yes, 1 = Yes, with limitations, 0 = Total ban)
    • Weight: 1
    • Biggest Value = Best

Safety

  • Crime Index
    • Weight: 3
    • Biggest Value = Best
  • Hate Crimes Based on Race, Ethnicity, or Ancestry
    • Weight: 2
    • Smallest Value = Best
  • Share of Fully Vaccinated Residents
    • Weight: 3
    • Biggest Value = Best
  • COVID-19 Infections per 100,000 Residents (Past 3 Months)
    • Weight: 2
    • Smallest Value = Best

Weather

  • Average Forecasted High Temperature on Chinese New Year (Feb. 1-15)
    • Weight: 1
    • Biggest Value = Best
  • Average Probability of Rain on Chinese New Year (Feb. 1-15)
    • Weight: 1
    • Smallest Value = Best

Sources

AccuWeather, All Events in City, American Pyrotechnics Association, Everfest, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Meetup, NeighborhoodScout, The New York Times, TripAdvisor, U.S. Census Bureau, Wikipedia, and Yelp

Final words: Wealth of community

You don’t have to be Chinese to celebrate Chinese New Year – anyone can partake in its various traditions. But the festivities and customs will be more meaningful if you understand the Chinese population’s culture, history, and contributions to American society.

In honor of Chinese New Year, why not support a local Chinese business? Chinese- and Asian-owned businesses have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic because of misconceptions about the origins of COVID-19 and a surge in anti-Asian rhetoric.

Interested in learning about Chinese American history? Here are a few exceptional spots to check out:

  • Locke Historic District near Sacramento, California: Built by Chinese immigrants around 1915, this town is a designated historic landmark and, until recently, has been inhabited almost exclusively by Chinese Americans and immigrants. If you visit, make sure to stop by the Dai Loy Museum, a former gambling hall that now displays some of the town’s artifacts. 
  • Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon: Learn through landscaping. Built by artists from Portland’s sister city, Suzhou, this garden is like a portal into the gardens of the Ming Dynasty. Lan Su has a reputation for being one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China and will host a plethora of events to ring in the lunar new year. 
  • Golden Spike National Historic Park in Promontory, Utah: This vast landscape works to commemorate the legacy of more than 11,000 Chinese railroad workers who helped build America’s first transcontinental railroad.
  • Wing Luke Museum in Seattle, Washington: Located in Seattle’s Chinatown, this museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is a great community-curated center with past exhibits ranging in topics from science fiction by APA authors to Bruce Lee. 
  • Asia on Argyle in Chicago, Illinois: A district in Chicago filled with Chinese and Southeast Asian businesses and residents, this area of the city has been transformed in the past few decades by Asian immigrants and refugees. It’s the go-to place for scoring some of the most authentic Chinese food in the city. 

Mowing your lawn during Chinese New Year can bring bad luck. If you need help cleaning up your yard for good fortune the rest of the year, contact a Lawn Love pro to schedule an appointment after Feb. 15.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a recent graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.