How to Celebrate Chinese New Year 2024 with 25 Year of the Dragon Activities

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year 2024 with 25 Year of the Dragon Activities

How to celebrate Chinese New Year 2024… Are your kids interested in other cultures and traditions? Do you love learning about how other holidays are celebrated around the globe? Chinese New Year is one holiday you’ll have a blast learning about and partaking in the unique and exciting festivities, like the dragon dance, fireworks, Hong Pao red envelope gifts, and feasting! While the traditions and activities are fun and exciting for children, the holiday celebrates looking to the future and welcoming new beginnings – a positive outlook we could all adopt.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year can be called Lunar New Year, Spring Festival, or just New Year, depending on your location. While it is mainly observed by East Asian countries, many festivities occur in places around the globe. There is a huge celebration and parade in the San Francisco and Chicago Chinatown every year.

Marking the end of winter and the beginning of the spring season, Chinese New Year celebrates looking to the future for new beginnings with themes of happiness, health, and good fortune. The New Year is frequently regarded as an occasion to gather and feast together as a family at a reunion dinner to honor household and heavenly deities, as well as ancestors. It is also a tradition for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill fortune and to make way for incoming good luck.

According to legend, a mythical beast Nian would terrorize villagers during the Spring Festival. They quickly realized Nian was afraid of the color red and loud noises. The tradition grew that when New Year was approaching, the villagers would wear red, hang red lanterns and scrolls, and use firecrackers and drums to frighten Nian away. Themes of the color red and drums are incorporated into traditions that carry on today.

Year of the Dragon

Each year in the Lunar calendar is represented by one of 12 zodiac animals included in the cycle of 12 stations or “signs” along the apparent path of the sun through the cosmos. The 12 zodiac animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. In addition to the animals, five elements of earth, water, fire, wood, and metal are also mapped onto the traditional lunar calendar. Each year is associated with an animal that corresponds to an element.

Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice, so the date changes year by year. This year, the New Year officially begins on February 10th in 2024 and will culminate with the Lantern Festival on February 24th.

2024 is the Year of the Dragon – the Wood Dragon to be exact. The Wood Dragon is believed to be associated with authority, prosperity, and good fortune. Dragons hold a unique place in the Chinese Zodiac. Of all the animals present, only dragons are mythical. As is well known, dragons occupy a special seat in traditional Chinese folklore. The Dragon is full of strength and energy, a very lucky animal that brings wealth and good fortune.

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year

When you start to research How to Celebrate Chinese New Year, you’ll find all kinds of activities, recipes, tales, and events. Before you dive into traditional activities with the kids, show them a couple of YouTube videos of dragon dances at a Chinese New Year parade, talk to Chinese neighbors or classmates about their traditions, and learn about the mythical beast, Nian.

I love going to the library to check out picture books on topics we want to learn about. Our library even has themed craft packets to do there or take home. Once you’ve learned all about the Chinese New Year, pick out some of our 25 Year of the Dragon Activities to do with your kids.

25 Year of the Dragon Activities


Family Dinner

Chinese New Year starts with a Reunion Dinner among family members and is considered one of the most important meals of the year. You can have your own reunion dinner at home by gathering around the table with your loved ones to eat some traditional cuisine-fish for prosperity, longevity noodles for happiness, and fresh tangerines for good luck. If someone is missing from the celebration, it is customary to still set a place for them at the table.

Dress in Red

Red is a powerful color in Chinese culture, symbolizing good energy, wealth, happiness, and protection. Try to incorporate as much red as possible into everyone’s attire during your celebration time. You can even head to an Asian market or check online for an outfit that symbolizes Chinese New Year. Just be sure to avoid wearing black or white, since they symbolize sadness and loss.

Fireworks Shows

More fireworks are set off in the world during Chinese New Year than any other time of year. Watch some fireworks celebrations from previous years here. Make some firework salt paintings or confetti poppers for some indoor firework fun.

Experience Shen Yun

Be amazed by a live performance of Shen Yun, a breathtaking show of dance, music, acrobatics, and storytelling of China before Communism. Shen Yun has been dazzling audiences for years and attendees go back for more, year after year. Being immersed in Chinese history and culture will give you a better understanding and appreciation of China and its traditions.

Hong Paos

These red envelopes are important gifts of the Chinese New Year. They usually contain money and are passed down from elders to children (or from married to unmarried friends) as a show of sharing their luck and wealth. Learn how to make your own envelopes and what calligraphy symbols to use here.

Animal Zodiac

Watch this video about The Great Race, the legend behind the 12 animals associated with the Chinese zodiac. Then find the animal zodiac for your birth year, and color a picture of your animal or a placemat of all the animals. This cute thumbprint zodiac wheel is another great option. You can also visit a Chinese restaurant that uses the zodiac wheel as a placemat and take some home with you.


Chinese New Year parades typically feature brightly colored floats, marching bands, dancers, acrobats, dragons, and other performers. You can watch a previous year here. Even better, make your own mini-parade at home. Create costumes from items found in your closets and let every family member showcase their talents. Put a blanket over two or three people in a line to make a long dragon that dances!

Lion Dance

Lions are symbols of strength and stability. The giant puppet’s dance is meant for protection, to chase away evil spirits. Watch a traditional lion dance, then put on your own show! Make a smaller personal version out of a paper bag or a cardboard box.

Make Dumplings

The shape of Chinese Dumplings is similar to the gold ingot (gold bars) making them perfect to eat and make for a wealthy New Year. Work together to make your own or support a local business by ordering takeout. Have a family competition and put your chopstick skills to the test.

Chinese Good Luck Knot

Chinese knots are used to symbolize success and good fortune. We found a great tutorial to learn how to tie your own Chinese good luck knot for older kids or as an assisted craft. All you need is string, pins, and a place to work.

Chinese Fans

The original Chinese fans symbolized happiness. Bring some more joy to your celebration and make your own Chinese fan out of paper and popsicle sticks or a plate. It’s an easy craft and the kids love playing with them.

Read A Story

Family is a big theme in Chinese New Year and one of our favorite ways to connect as a family is by reading together. Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, Sam and the Lucky Money, Ruby’s Chinese New Year, and How to Catch a Dragon are all fun Chinese New Year reads.

Make Signs with Calligraphy

Red paper and banners inscribed with calligraphy messages of good health and fortune are hung in front of and inside homes in China. The character 福(fú) translates to “Good Luck”, and signs with the character are hung upside down in households to “pour” the good luck on you. Use this printable to make your own and hang around the house.

Watch The Spring Festival Gala

This annual broadcast is a Chinese New Year tradition and the most-watched television event in the world, with over a billion viewers watching in previous years. The show has comedy performances, singing, dancing, magic acts, acrobatics, and opera. You can watch the Gala rebroadcast on YouTube.

Paper Crafts

Many households in China offer paper icons to ancestors during Chinese New Year. I love an excuse to get artsy and Chinese New Year is no exception. We are loving all these dragon crafts, especially this easy paper plate dragon twirler.

Clean House

How to celebrate Chinese New Year at home? Clean!! I know it sounds like I have some major Mom-agenda, but clearing the house of negative energy is an important part of the celebration. Sweeping out bad luck is a key part to ensuring a prosperous New Year.


2024 is the year of the dragon, which is supposed to bring authority, prosperity, and good fortune to all of us in the upcoming year. Dragons are an important creature in New Year celebrations, since they are thought to bring good luck. Make some good luck of your own with some dragon-themed crafts. These cardboard tube dragon, paper puppet, and Chinese dragon pop-up card are among our favorite activities.

Kindness Only

To carry happiness into the new year, you are supposed to begin with positivity, meaning no crying OR arguing during this time. This may sound like wishful thinking, but we could probably all swing an afternoon or two! Explain the reasoning and make a game out of being as sweet as possible to each other.

Flying Lanterns

The Lantern Festival wraps up the Chinese New Year celebrations. It occurs on the first full moon and marks the return of Spring. Beautiful paper lanterns are strung up everywhere and people celebrate by sending flying lanterns into the sky along with wishes for the New Year. Create some lantern magic at home by making your own lantern crafts. Try out this flying tea bag experiment to recreate flying lanterns on a smaller scale.

Make Your Own Music

The Chinese New Year Drum, or Bolang Gu, has been around since ancient times. You can easily make your own version to play at home out of paper plates.

Paper Cutting

Chinese paper-cut art, also known as jianzhi, has been used since ancient times to welcome Spring and is often displayed in windows. Chinese calligraphy symbols and zodiac animals are most often used for paper cutting. Try out your own double happiness symbol or a 3D symbol for Spring.

Spring Couplets

Spring couplets are well wishes for the New Year, written in black ink on a red paper background. They are hung on either side of the front door and were thought to offer protection to the home. Make your own rhyme and write it out on red construction paper, or find some more traditional couplets here to make and hang up.

Plum Blossoms

Flowers represent growth and are another important part of Chinese New Year celebrations. Cut plum blossom branches are used as decoration to symbolize hope, purity, and prosperity in the coming year. Bring your own blossom indoors by drawing a bare tree branch and having the kids use pink finger paint to stamp on blossoms.

Listen To Chinese Music and Songs

Explore the culture even further with music. There are tons of traditional music options for Chinese New Year to listen to, as well as informative children’s songs, sing-a-longs, and even one you can play your Chinese New Year drum along to. Listen while you are crafting or play as background music during your parade.

Visit Chinatown

The best idea for How to Celebrate Chinese New Year is to immerse yourself in Chinese culture by visiting your local Chinatown. If you or your kids have never been, it is bound to be an experience they never forget.

Xin chun yu kuai (May your New Year be happy) with these 25 fun-filled Year of the Dragon activities. Find more greetings and sayings for the New Year here for a bonus Chinese New Year activity!

We love learning about how to celebrate Chinese New Year. It is so enriching to explore other cultures and traditions. Share your best photos and ideas on How to Celebrate Chinese New Year with us below or tag us on social media using #PLAYindy. Follow Indy with Kids on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest for all of the best ideas and things to do with kids!

If you’re looking for other winter activity ideas, pick one of our 100 winter break activity recommendations, or check out all of the ways to play in the snow. Need ideas of things to do when snowed in? Take your pick from these 100+ indoor fun ideas to do with kids.

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