HomeAsian AmericansKennedy Center's Lunar New Year Celebration Returns to D.C.

Kennedy Center’s Lunar New Year Celebration Returns to D.C.

After a year of hiatus due to COVID, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. will once again hold a Lunar New Year Celebration to celebrate the Year of the Tiger, Broadway World reported. From January 27th to February 6th, the Center will spotlight Chinese and Korean cultures through musical performances, arts and crafts, and an extensive lantern display handcrafted by Chinese artisans.

Described as the “nation’s busiest performing arts center,” the Kennedy Center holds over 2,000 arts events per year, including major theater shows, National Symphony Orchestra performances, and visual exhibits. The Lunar New Year celebration will be held at the REACH Center, which the Kennedy Center website describes as a “living theater” where visitors interact directly with art.

The Kenendy Center’s Lunar New Year celebration began in 2016. Past performances, which are publicly available on the Kennedy Center’s website, include acrobats from the Guangdong Arts Troupe, musicians from the Korean National Gugak Center, and Korean folk music and glam-rock fusion group SsingSsing. The festival, however, was cancelled in 2021 as COVID made in-person programming impossible.

This year, however, organizers are taking full advantage of outdoor spaces to bring the festival back, including the iconic Winter Lantern display.

“The outdoor spaces of the REACH provide our audiences with a wonderful opportunity to experience the Chinese and Korean cultures,” Alicia Adams, the curator of the Lunar New Year celebrations, stated in Broadway World. “And after a year hiatus, we are thrilled to return to our annual celebration and hope visitors of all ages will enjoy the unique and luminous lanterns around the campus.”

The Winter Lanterns, which Adams describes as an “exciting and important part of our annual Lunar New Year celebration,” consists of six themed installments: Flamingo Lagoon, Butterfly Garden, Coral Reef, Panda Grove, Mushroom Forest, and Flower Path. Per the Kennedy Center’s website, the exhibition contains around 100 lanterns adorned with 10,000 colored LED lights. Past lanterns include a glowing turtle swimming through neon green seaweed, butterflies with glowing wings, and a blossoming flower with delicate petals.

The Center also offers additional activities during “Plus” days. The first week focuses on Chinese culture, including letter writing to former National Zoo pandas Bao Bao, Tai Shan, and Bei Bei, free arts and crafts, and a musical performance from the Asian American Music Society. The second week spotlights Korean culture, including a traditional Korean clothing display, mascot photo opportunities, and a performance by G-Hwaja featuring a variety of Korean music and dance from traditional styles to modern Kpop.

Other activities include video wall projections, new year’s wishes, food trucks, and traditional Korean games such as Dock-Chee and spinning tops.

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