byobs,  Exploring Chicago Neighborhoods,  random adventures

where to celebrate chinese new year 2020 chicago style

This is the Year of the Rat 4718. According to the Chinese zodiac if you were born in one of the following years 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 you are a Rat. Rats generally get a bad rap but here they are in the first position of the 12-year cycle and a symbol of wealth. They are believed to be very industrious, thrifty, diligent & positive. I have a newfound respect for Rats!

Here’s where to celebrate Chinese New Year 2020 Chicago style. Chinese New Year falls on Saturday, January 25 with two Lunar New Year parades being held in the city. The first is on Saturday, February 1 on Argyle Street in Uptown and the second is on Sunday, February 2nd in Chinatown. You should mark this on your calendar so you can start planning.

dumplings & dancing & dim sum, oh my

While there are many festivities taking place throughout the city a popular spot to celebrate is in historic Chinatown. It is located just south of downtown at Cermak & Wentworth. Take the cta redline to the Chinatown stop or if driving there are parking lots & street parking available.

Enjoy the lively, colorful parade on Sunday, February 2 at 1 p.m. that begins at 24th Street & Wentworth Avenue then heads north under the famous Chinatown Gateway archway. There are also many other activities (most kid-friendly) from dumpling-making, learning about traditional Chinese music & dance to discovering the best restaurants & shops. Click here for more details. These events take place from January 24 through February 9.

Going to Chinatown during Chinese New Year is fun, festive and gets you out of hibernation but it gets pretty crowded. If crowds are not your thing, keep in mind Chinatown is great to visit year-round. If you do wait for warmer weather, consider taking a water taxi there. It is my favorite way to get to Chinatown.

While you are in Chinatown, you should grab a bite since there are so many wonderful options ranging from bubble tea to dim sum. Here’s my post on where to get IMHO, the most delicious dumplings. Seriously, they are addicting. Here are more restaurant options.

history of Chinatown

Did you know Chinatown was originally located in the Loop? From 1870 until the first decade of the 20th century, Chinese immigrants flocked to Van Buren & Clark Streets. The Chinese that first came to Illinois were mostly urban Chinese meaning that they weren’t miners, railway builders or farmers but restaurateurs, grocers & launderers.

Between 1910 and 1915, residents and businesses started to move to the current South Side Chinatown because they were priced out of the Loop. While they generated income and were taxed like any other citizens, they didn’t have a lot of political clout because they didn’t integrate. So when their prime Loop location was desired by others, they didn’t have the ability to push back. Racial tensions played a factor as well. The last trace of the original Chinatown is a sign in front of a Mexican restaurant on Clark Street that is shaped like a pagoda. TimeOut Chicago

Today Chinatown is a bustling & thriving neighborhood home to many Chinese-Americans. Here are some interesting articles from wttw & npr about Chinatown.

you say tomato …

Don’t want to battle the crowds in Chinatown? Then head up north to Argyle Street (& Broadway) in Uptown. Street parking may be tricky and there is a parking lot nearby. You can also take the cta redline to the Argyle stop.

The parade starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 1 (note – this is one day earlier that the Chinatown parade) at Argyle & Winthrop. Besides the parade, you can enjoy music, colorful lion dances, live entertainment & family-friendly pop-ups.


While you are there, you should get some pho. You say foe, I say fuh. While the pronunciation is debatable this desirable winter staple is not. It’s a delicious cure-the-winter blues (& everything else) in a bowl. Please promise me if you go to Argyle Street you will get some.

If any of my suburbanite readers have a favorite place in the ‘burbs for pho please leave a comment to share.

Here are some additional events that observe the new year happening throughout the city.

In honor of Chinese New Year here is my post of the dragon lights festival from last year. It was a beautifully Illuminated & festive celebration of Chinese culture. Not sure if it will be an annual event but you should keep it on your radar just in case.

I hope these suggestions help you figure out where to celebrate Chinese New Year 2020 Chicago style. Happy New Year!


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