May 23, 2024

The Lunar New Year Festival in downtown Riverside will take place on Jan. 28-29 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and is hosted by Panana Events. This festival is accessible to the general public with free entry and parking, and free entry reservations are also available for booking online.

The festival will highlight the rabbit as the Chinese zodiac animal of this year. It is believed to be an animal of elegance, patience and skill. The 2023 element of the year is water, which is said to represent sensitivity and inner peace. The water rabbit mascot of the year is predicted to bring strength and tranquility. The event is set to bring in a wide audience and will have a large selection of food, performances and goodies from across the spectrum of Asian culture.

“2023 is the 11th annual [event],” said Eric Luan, president of Panana Events. “It brings people together through the experience of rich culture, dance and food.”

There will be an opening ceremony held on Mission Inn Avenue to kick off the festivities. The grand entrance will include musical performances, dancing and kung fu.

Performers from across the Inland Empire will attend as entertainment. The performances range from traditional Chinese dance to modern K-pop. There will also be other musical elements of the show, such as Japanese drums. These are only a few examples of more than 25 types of performances that will take place throughout the weekend.

“I’ve never been to an event like this before,” said Abigail Montesinos, sophomore business administration major. “I’m mostly looking forward to getting to experience a glimpse of the culture that I’ve never experienced before. Also, I did hear that there will be music performances, and since I am a musically inclined person, I want to hear a different type of music that’s special to them, as well as the dances. I’m overall excited to learn more about this culture.”

There will be a wide variety of food to choose from, such as dumplings and grilled squid.

“[People] love it,” Luan said. “We have more vendors each year, and it’s a growing event.”
In addition to the creative presentations and food, there will also be unique souvenirs for attendees to browse and purchase. Some of these pieces include jewelry, crafts, clothes and dolls from artists across Asia. There will be many opportunities to interact with Asian culture at this event.

“I hope there’s more publicity and advertisement for this event because being able to learn more about a different culture is exciting,” said Emme Buhl, senior English major. “It helps with empathy because you’re able to understand people better when you learn more about their culture and create open-mindedness within the community. Overall, it can help you widen your horizon as a person.”

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