The lunar Year of the Rabbit begins on February 3 but celebrations are already underway in the Hawaii Islands. On Oahu, the focus is Chinatown, where family-family events join more adult celebrations to mark the new year.

Honolulu government, civic groups and private merchants have put together a series of family-friendly observances such as lion dances, fireworks, exhibits, Chinese singing and dancing, martial arts demonstrations, feng shui displays, and fortune-telling. The first was yesterday, when the Narcissus Queen Pageant selected the Queen and her court to preside over the Narcissus Festival activities throughout the year. But the next two weekends are when the party really gets underway. Friday and Saturday (January 14 & 15 and 21 & 22) is the Chinese New Year Festival at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza from 10 am to 10 pm. This street festival includes food vendors, exhibits and entertainment.

Friday, January 28 is the Narcissus Festival, beginning at 6 pm with the lion dance blessing, after which the Narcissus Queen and her court visit Chinatown businesses. Again, food vendors, arts and crafts booths and entertainment are at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza.

The final blow-out is Saturday, January 29. A street fair begins at 9 am, the Night in Chinatown parade gets underway at 3:30 (beginning on Hotel Street at the State Capitol), and the Night in Chinatown Festival continues until 10:30 pm.

The full schedule is available online (chinatownhi.com) or in a 32-page information booklet that also includes information about the Year of the Rabbit. Other restaurants and bars will have their own celebrations. The important thing to note is that, at least in Hawaii, nearly all of the events take place in the month before the new year, rather than beginning on February 3.

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