The Year of the Water Dragon is upon us!
// Claire Vulliamy

Dragons are awesome! If you agree, you might be excited to learn that it is now the Chinese year of the dragon, and that this week there are multiple ways to celebrate. Here are just a few of the amazing celebrations that are happening in Vancouver this week.


Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens, 578 Carrall St.
Sunday, January 29th
By Donation ($5 suggested)

This fair is described as a “hot & noisy,” or “re-nao” event, and if that doesn’t sound like a good time, I don’t know what does. Kathy Gibbler, Executive Director at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens explains that the garden has been having a public day around Chinese New Year for a long time, but that only in the last two years have they introduced a more traditional element.

“[We] started a temple fair, which is a really traditional thing to do in China,” Gibbler says. “People come together, and there [are] calligraphers, you can come and get a red envelope from some Chinese grannies and grandpas … there’s throwing coins in the wishing well, you can get your fortune told.”
According to Gibbler, new elements this year include artisans coming from China and music as part of the celebration. There will also be an opportunity to raise your fortunes with a traditional coin toss: “You have a great big, old Chinese coin, and you throw money at it, and if you can get it through the middle it’s considered good luck,” Gibbler says. Behind the oversized coin will be a large brass gong: “If you get your quarter, or whatever, through the middle, it’ll ding the gong.”

The year of the dragon is significant not just to those born under the sign of the dragon. “Obviously the people born in the year are the most affected, but all of the zodiac signs have a kind of influence on how the year goes,” Gibbler says.

There is a relationship: “You talk about dragon people and you kind of extend it to the year … it’s a powerful year, and also, dragons are considered good luck … Imagine someone that’s intense and powerful and takes charge,” Gibbler says.

However, the water-aligned dragon has a different effect. “Of all the dragon years, this is the most peaceful, and Lordy, don’t we need that.”

Overall, Gibbler says, “What I’m really hoping for is that we all manage to take charge of our lives and the things that we want, and we have peace.”


Sunday, January 29th
12 PM

Taking place since 1974, the Chinese New Year Parade is a Vancouver institution. It starts at 12pm and moves from the Millennium Gate on Pender St. through the Chinatown area before coming around almost full circle. The parade features the biggest assortment of lion dance teams of any gathering in Canada, displays of martial arts, as well as many other sights.

Various community groups participate; typically about 60 are not affiliated with commercial entities. Last year included various city councilors, school board trustees, MLAs, and Michael Ignatieff all handing out red envelopes.


January 22nd- February 4th
Wild Rice Restaurant

If you’re more of the introverted type, popular Chinese fusion restaurant Wild Rice, with locations in Vancouver and New Westminster, has created a menu for two to celebrate the New Year. Bad news to vegetarians: as the dishes have been created to represent the water dragon, they predominately feature seafood. Good news, however, Wild Rice’s seafood is ocean-wise certified.

The three dinner courses consist of Dungeness crab with sui choy and oranges, steamed ling cod on noodles with mushrooms and peas, and albacore tuna tartare with longan emulsion. As for dessert, the Plate of Good Wishes features “multiple dessert treats that symbolize good luck prosperity, fertility, and a sweet year.”


January 23rd
752 Granville St.

The Royal Canadian Mint Retail Store is having a little New Year celebration, which is free, and has also created an assortment of Year of the Dragon coins, which are not. The most expensive is the pure gold coin for $688, which in fact only has a value of $150. Some people definitely didn’t notice this, because the coin is in fact sold out on their website.

If you only want to pretend you’re rich, you can go to the retail store on the 23rd and hold a bar of real gold! First 88 visitors get a prize, which is hopefully a gold bar of their own. Or at least a chocolate bar.
Remember as you go forth into the year that your days are no longer guided by the calm, quiet rabbit, but the intense and magical dragon. As Tyra says, be fierce! For those of you born in 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, or 2000, this is your year. If you are a large, scaly beast then this is even more so your year. Gung hay fat choy, everyone!

//Claire Vulliamy, writer
//Graphics by Sarah Taylor

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