Gung Hay Fat Choy! It’s time for Chinese New Year. This year it is the Year of the Rooster. In accordance with the Chinese lunar calendar, the Year of the Rooster begins on January 28, 2017 and ends February 15, 2018. You are a Rooster if you were born in 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, or 2017.
Chinese New Year is celebrated in style at Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden from January 28 – February 12, 2017.
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is in the midst of high rise business buildings in the up and coming Old Town/Chinatown area of Portland. The garden provides an oasis of beauty and calm in an otherwise hectic setting. Chinese New Year is an ideal time to visit and see the excitement and beauty of the lanterns and special decorations.
Lan Su celebrates with two weeks of festivities and six evenings of Lantern Viewing. Lantern Viewings range from family night to VIP events. Traditional lantern viewings close out Chinese New Year festivities, when the garden glows with hanging red lanterns illuminating sweeping Chinese roof-lines. The central pond with rocky waterfalls is illuminated by large lantern sculptures including a 20–foot dragon. A dragon procession and performances by local community partners, such as the Lion Dancers are all a part of these special evenings.
The day I went to the garden during Chinese New Year, we were greeted with volunteers who handed out oranges and traditional coins wrapped in red envelopes (Hong Bao.) As we rolled our oranges through the entrance gate, we were told that we were participating in a traditional good fortune and prosperity activity. When I grew up in San Francisco we often had a bowl filled with tangerines surrounded by red envelopes with small coins. Tangerines and oranges are Chinese New Years symbols.
Periodically through the day Lion Dancers and Dragons entertained us accompanied by Chinese drumming. Visitors enjoyed sitting around the pond and in the tea house and watching the festivities. There is a long list of events each year for children through adults… flower arranging classes, puppet shows and Chinese folk art demonstrations, to list a few.
Lan Su Chinese Garden, with its artistic paved paths, rare plants and bridges is an important place to see while visiting Portland. The garden is a result of a collaboration between the cities of Portland and Suzhou, their sister city in China’s Jiangsu province, famous for its beautiful Ming Dynasty gardens. Lan Su was built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou and is one the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China.
Lan Su has a special shop during the celebrations with traditional imports from China. Fine beautiful silk scarves, carvings and pottery. The year ‘round gift shop is a treasure trove of gift and décor ideas.
Portland’s Chinatown includes some authentic Chinese restaurants as well as the fun Mi Mero Mole, Mexico City street food style Mexican restaurant.
When You Go
Consider purchasing a ticket online ahead of time. The garden can get crowded. There is limited street parking. The Chinatown MAX light rail stop is near-by.
Address: 239 Northwest Everett Street, Portland, Oregon 97209