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Ring in the Year of the Dragon

Lunar New Year

February 9, 2024

Header image provided by Iowa Asian Alliance.

The Lunar New Year will soon be here. It officially arrives on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024 and will be celebrated by numerous Asian cultures around the world. 2024 is the Year of the Dragon, the fifth animal of the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac signs. Those born in the Year of the Dragon are said to be powerful, noble, honorable, lucky and successful.

Nu Huynh, Executive Director of Iowa Asian Alliance, shares how this time of year is special to her and her family:

My favorite part of the Lunar New Year is upholding the traditions that are meaningful to my parents and passing on those memories and experiences to my kids. While the kids' favorite aspect might revolve around receiving red envelopes and seeing who "earned" the most money, the celebration also involves honoring and respecting elders and offering blessings for loved ones who have passed away. As generations age, the significance of these memories and experiences becomes more profound, transcending mere enjoyment and taking on deeper meanings.

Photo Credit: Nu Huynh

Where to Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Greater Des Moines

There are many ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year around Greater Des Moines (DSM). Here are a few upcoming events:

Stop into Crème, an Asian-owned bakery, at 543 28th Street in Des Moines on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 – 8 p.m. for a pop-up Lunar New Year. Crème is celebrating the Year of the Dragon with special treats such as Chinese-style sponge cakes and dragon shortbread cookies, along with their signature milk bread and buns. Dumpling House and Anousone Coffee will be on hand serving made-from-scratch chicken, pork and veggie dumplings and freshly brewed coffee and milk teas. A lucky red envelope will be given with every $25 spent at the bakery during the pop-up event.

Photo Credit:  Crème

Also on Saturday, Feb. 10, the Chinese Association of Iowa will present the Iowa Chinese Association Achievement Awards Ceremony at Grand View University. The celebration and awards ceremony will take place at the Kent Henning Student Center at 2811 E. 14th St. in Des Moines. The US-Asian Business, Culture and Education Forum, along with a panel discussion and awards ceremony will run from 10 a.m. – Noon. The entertainment will begin at Noon. There will be martial arts demonstrations, authentic Chinese food, music and singing and dancing until 2 p.m. Cultural demonstrations, games and business showcases will run throughout the event from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

On Saturday, Feb. 17, the Vietnamese American Community in Iowa (VACI) is hosting a Vietnamese Lunar New Year’s Celebration at Events Center West located at 1701 25th St. in West Des Moines. The day program will run from Noon to 4 p.m. It will begin with a traditional Vietnamese ceremony, followed by the beloved and lively lion dance. The afternoon will include entertainment, a raffle, BINGO, lunch and children’s activities. During the evening program from 7 to 11 p.m., there will be a live band with a special guest singer, Helena Hong Pham, all the way from Orange, California. Food and drinks will be served and there will be plenty of dancing that night. VACI President and Refugee Education & Workforce Program Manager, Vinh Nguyen says, “Let’s come to celebrate Tết, the biggest holiday in Vietnamese culture.”

Photo Credit: Nu Huynh

Tai Village will have a Tai Dam New Year Celebration on Saturday, Feb. 24, beginning at 3 p.m. at the Walnut Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The celebration will include cultural activities, dances and live music. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m. and the event will conclude at 11 p.m.

Beware — the Year of the Snake will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2025.

From Pride to Juneteenth to the Latino Heritage Festival, big, inclusive events are par for the course in Greater Des Moines (DSM). But there are smaller events celebrating diversity here, too. Attend one of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Multicultural Receptions, an event celebrating veterans or a sensory-friendly event in the region. Learn more here.

Jane Nguyen

Jane Nguyen was adopted from Vietnam in 1975 and raised in Iowa. She is a Des Moines Public Schools educator of refugees and immigrants and a mother of two sons. Jane is also an avid festival goer, a Broadway musical fan, and a food and cooking enthusiast.