Numerous cities around the world mark Chinese New Year with parades, fireworks, boat races and special culinary treats. On January 23, the Year of the Rabbit gave way to the Year of the Dragon, but the festivities will last for weeks.
February 3-5: During the Chiang Mai Flower Festival, this northern Thai city explodes with countless gorgeous blossoms, including hundreds of species of orchids. The event culminates with a procession of floats bearing elaborate sculptures made from local flowers. But to experience “the grandest street and floats parade in Asia,” on February 3-4 head to Singapore for the wildly colorful Chingay Parade. On February 4-5, Sydney, Australia, hosts dragon boat races against the spectacular backdrop of Darling Harbour.
February 10-14: Even the most addicted chocoholics will get their fill at Cioccolentino, a five-day chocolate extravaganza in Terni, the southern Umbrian town where St. Valentine himself is buried. Festival attendees can enjoy watching chocolate-making competitions and demonstrations, concerts, and, of course, a tasting or two.
February 11: San Francisco’s illuminated night parade, is reputedly the largest New Year’s celebration outside Asia. Relive the splendor of pre-war Vienna at the Johann Strauss Ball, held annually in the opulent Kursalon. For €115, guests sit down to a formal three-course meal in the Schubert or Lehar Hall before dancing the night away in one of the four ballrooms. Instructors are on hand to help you perfect your waltz, or escape the ubiquitous 3/4 time in a neighboring ballroom, where people shimmy to hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
February 11-14: The little town of Saint-Valentin near the Loire Valley in France does not miss the opportunity to capitalize on its name. Special markets, dinners and presentations of “Certificats aux Amoureaux” take place on the weekend before Valentine’s Day, February 11-12, as well as the day itself. Villagers decorate their homes with flowers, and free concerts serenade couples.
February 21: The days (and even weeks) leading up to Mardi Gras are always rich with festivities, most famously in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro and Venice. But countless cities around the world celebrate the day with colorful parades, concerts and parties.
A selection of some alternative events:
February 10-21: Carnaveles in Puntarenas, Costa Rica
February 16-21: Karveval in Cologne, Germany
February 17-21: Carnival in Nadur, Gozo, Malta
February 17-22: Carnaval in Paraty, Brazil
February 26-March 1: Basler Fasnacht in Basel, Switzerland
February 28-June 3: In an exhibition titled “The Steins Collect,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibits some 200 works collected by Gertrude Stein and her family, demonstrating the influence they had on the artists of their day. The show focuses on works by Matisse and Picasso, but other major artists such as Juan Gris and Pierre Bonnard will also be represented.