Consider this your lucky red envelope of fantastic and free family friendly ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Chicagoland. And if your family is like mine and constantly sick during the winter, there are also some fun ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year from the comforts of home. I’m just hoping that my little monkeys don’t celebrate the year of the monkey by constantly jumping on the bed.
FREE CHICAGOLAND EVENTS
Enjoy giveaways from retailers (all involving lucky $8 denominations) as well as music, lion dance performances, calligraphy demonstrations, and food tastings.
Bundle up and head outside to enjoy beautiful displays of music, martial arts, puppets, traditional lion dances and more from the Chinese Fine Arts Society from noon until 1 p.m.
Head over to the Brookfield Zoo to enjoy family friendly indoor and outdoor year of the monkey fun. Activities include crafts, photo booths, a special scavenger hunt in the Tropic World house, face painting, cooking demonstrations, zoo chats, lucky red envelopes, costumed dancers, and much more.
Head to Uptown to celebrate the year of the monkey and enjoy fireworks, lion dancers, floats, dragons, and more, starting at 1 pm. Insider Tip: Use public transportation.
Looking for the most upbeat and authentic Chinese new year celebration? Then celebrate in Chicago’s beautiful Chinatown. The parade runs from 1-2 pm, starting at 24th Street and Wentworth.
Want to celebrate the year of the monkey indoors? I don’t blame you. Be sure to visit the gorgeous Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier between noon and 4 pm to enjoy music, dance, martial arts, and get the kids involved in calligraphy, paper cutting, and lantern making crafts.
Purple Monkey Playroom in Bucktown is one of our favorite places to play everyday, but even more so on Monday, February 8th. Bring a friend to play and BOTH families gets ½ off regular admission price or receive $4 off a pass purchase.
FILL YOUR BELLY
Chicagoland is filled with delicious eats and treats, but I have to say that these are the absolute BEST for celebrating the Lunar New Year. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended, and remember that you can also enjoy these fabulous foods all year long.
Joy Yee Noodle—Chinatown, Evanston, Naperville, and Tinley Park
Ming Hin—Chinatown, Downtown, Naperville, and Rolling Meadows (opening soon)
Lao Restaurants—Multiple Chicago locations, including Evanston
Don’t feel like take out? Then be sure to try my family’s favorite recipe and my favorite shortcut ever: Trader Joe’s frozen Chinese food.
Sweet and Sour Chicken (or Pork if you prefer)
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 pound chicken or pork (cut into bite sized chunks)
-1 green pepper (cut into chunks)
-1 can drained pineapple chunks
-1 cup celery (cut into chunks)
-2 tablespoons ketchup
-2 bouillon cubes
-1/2 cup vinegar
-1/3 cup sugar
-2 tablespoon corn starch or flour
-Salt and pepper to taste
Brown chicken in vegetable oil, season with salt and pepper, Add celery, peppers, and pineapple for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ketchup, vinegar, sugar, and bouillon cubes to create a broth. Add corn starch or flour to thicken the sauce. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Serve with rice.
Be sure to check out all of the different frozen Chinese food options Trader Ming has for you. We love their fried rice (both veggie and pork fried rice) as well as their orange chicken, teriyaki chicken, and spicy beef with broccoli. All you have to do is open the bags, warm the food per packaged directions, and enjoy!
And to finish off your Chinese New Year Celebration, check out my Pinterest page to find some fun and unique arts and crafts for the entire family.
Happy New Year!
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