One of the year’s most exciting holidays is Chinese New Year. Celebrated around the globe by more than 5 million people each winter, the Eastern equivalent of the entire holiday season rolled into a single event is the highlight of the lunar calendar.
This year’s festivities have special significance, as the Year of the Rat marks the start of another 12-year zodiac cycle and represents new beginnings.
Experience illuminating Lunar New Year festivities during the River Honbao lantern parade. From January 23 to February 1, head for NS Square in Marina Bay to see dozens of larger-than-life glowing figures, ranging from the jovial God of Fortune to the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, gliding across the water in a stellar display of color and light.
After that excitement, visit Five-Star Sentosa hideaway Capella Singapore for savory six-course menus of festive fare. We suggest splurging on the Deluxe Fortune Set to sup on classic cuisine like stewed abalone, wok-fried wagyu beef with black pepper sauce, and baked lobster udon soup.
In homage to its Asian roots, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Boston is commemorating the holiday with auspicious offerings like a Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea (through February 9) and festive gift baskets stuffed with egg rolls, rice cakes and other lucky treats.
Those born in the Year of the Rat (1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 or 2008) also will receive a gratis appetizer or dessert at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Bar Boulud Boston — a token of good fortune for the months ahead.
A destination for foodies any time of year, Chengdu is especially enticing during Lunar New Year celebrations, when classic epicurean destinations like Jinli Street are adorned in gorgeous red and gold lanterns. Between photos ops, savor spicy street foods along the pedestrian boulevard, or venture a few blocks over to take in the festively decorated Chengdu Wuhou Temple.
If you still aren’t satisfied, head over to Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Chengdu for Cantonese and Sichuan specialties in the stylish surroundings of Li Xuan.
From January 24 to 28, Four-Star W Hong Kong welcomes the new year with creative dishes from executive chef Johnny Chan. Dine on plates like steamed fresh abalone with tangerine peel — the citrus fruit is a symbol of luck and prosperity — and Lo Hei salad, a decomposed noodle entrée tossed by the diner to cook up good fortune, wealth and long life.
Make your own luck by booking the trendy hotel’s Dine Whatever/Whenever package and receive up to HK$1,000 (US$128) to spend on those celebratory plates.
Your four-legged friends can get in on the action, too, with New Year Paws for Tea at The Murray, Hong Kong. Book a seat at this festive service on January 18 to enjoy steaming brews for you and complimentary treats for your pooch. If you need to rest your head after the fun, check into the pet-friendly hotel — the sleek retreat is offering special rates for stays from January 17 to 19.
From larger-than-life floral installations to multi-course meals, Sin City goes all out for Chinese New Year.
Stroll through Strip-side casino resorts like Four-Star Wynn Las Vegas and MGM Grand to see over-the-top displays honoring the Year of the Rat. But the highlight might just be The Waterfall Atrium between Four-Stars The Venetian Resort Las Vegas and The Palazzo, where an 18-foot, 2,000-pound golden rodent takes center stage on January 15 surrounded by lucky tangerine trees, yellow chrysanthemums, red orchids and other fabulous flora.
Few Shanghai sights evoke as festive a feeling as the hundreds of handmade decorations on display during Yuyuan Lantern Festival. Meander through Yuyuan Gardens from January 24 to February 10 to see gorgeous paper lanterns depicting everything from animals to cartoons to hand-painted wishes for good fortune. The free event is the backdrop for some spectacular photos, especially if you happen to catch a traditional lion dance.
Following your picture-perfect day, go to nearby Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai for equally Instagram-worthy Cantonese cuisine at Si Ji Xuan. While dinner here is divine, we highly recommend the all-you-can-eat weekend dim sum lunch.