Chinese New Year Festivities in Austin

There will be two major festivals this year, and in the traditional spirit of good will to all, they won't be competing in the same time slot. Instead, the festivities are staggered, allowing the celebration of the New Year to be extended, as it is in China, where festivities can continue for up to 15 days.

Hong Kong Super Market (8557 Research) will host a traditional Chinese New Year festival on Sunday, Feb. 14. The dragon dance, featuring several dragons manned by the Texas Dragon/Lion Dance Team, as well as dragons manned by the Linh Son Temple Dancers, will begin at 11am, weather permitting. The air will resound with the fury of thousands of firecrackers, and auspicious foods such as candy and bun tet (sticky rice with pork) will be available for purchase. The dragons will dance around the shopping center, demanding payment and dispensing good luck to businesses and individuals alike.

Chinatown Center (10901 N. Lamar) will hold New Year festivities on Saturday and Sun­day, Feb. 20-21. This festival combines traditional Chinese elements with other Asian and American festivities. In addition to the dragon dance (featuring the Texas Dragon/Lion Dance Team and the Summit Dragon), there will also be Indian, Hawaiian, Japanese, and Chinese dance demonstrations; a fashion show; a rock-climbing wall; face-painting; tai chi demonstrations; Kiwi the Clown; live music; and appearances by Ronald McDonald and former Miss Asian American Texas Allyn Hoang. See a full rundown at www.chinatownaustin.com/events.

All performances at both festivals are free to the public, but bringing some cash is encouraged, as some activities and all food vendors will be charging. Besides, Nian might notice you. Do you really want a year of bad luck just because you didn't have a couple of bucks to feed him?

The Texas Asian Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Lunar New Year Soirée Friday, Feb. 19, 6:30-9:30pm at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum (1800 Congress) with cocktails, Asian hors d'oeuvres, a traditional Chinese dragon dance, music, entertainment, and presentations of awards and scholarships. Buy tickets ($45 to $80) at 485-1090 or www.txasianchamber.org.

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