The Year of the Dog may not officially begin until February 16, but a lot of Lunar New Year celebrations are underway already. In California, the fabulous malls often act as town centers, so it’s no surprise that these shopping magnets offer up more than just some red-and-gold merchandise. Here are some festivities at 10 destination-worthy malls—from dragon parades and cooking demonstrations to live music and even a serious photography exhibit…and a generous serving of holiday gifts tucked in red envelopes.
Beverly Center, Los Angeles
Shopping will earn you hong bao (red envelopes) at this mall near West Hollywood. Show at least $500 in receipts in one day—perhaps not too hard, in the home of Burberry, Fendi, Gucci, and more—and you get American Express gift cards.
Citadel Outlets, Los Angeles
This palatial haven for deals near downtown L.A. offers extra good fortune: All you have to do to get a red envelope with a gift card is to go to the mall’s Customer Service Center and say “xin nian kuai le” ("Happy New Year") or “gong xi fa cai” (“wishing for a prosperous coming year”). On the biggest weekend of festivities (Feb. 16–17), come to the Center Court during the afternoon to see dragon and Chinese folk dances, drum ceremonies, and tai-chi demonstrations.
Westfield Santa Anita, Arcadia
East of Pasadena, the shopping center will celebrate with live performances of Chinese zither and flute as well as offering Lunar New Year goodies from two of the center’s acclaimed Asian eateries, Hai Di Lao and Dongpo.
The Shops at Riverside
The Inland Empire mall will celebrate Lunar New Year a little early with a Korean-themed party: the costumed dance troupe Choomnoori will perform traditional Korean fan and drum dances.
Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto
Feb. 10 and 17
Browse the branch of Frette at this upscale Silicon Valley mall on Feb. 10 and you could win a $888 shopping spree. The rest of the mall will hold its main celebration on Saturday, Feb. 17, with live music, face painting, and arts-and-crafts for kids.
Americana at Brand, Glendale
On the afternoon of Feb. 11, this luxe mall near Burbank is hosting dragon and lion dancers as well as a traditional dough artist. Be sure to check out the 14-foot Chinese lantern near Nordstrom and the 12-foot-tall God of Prosperity, a hand-painted sculpture perched on a pile of gilded ingots and I Ching coins (speaking of coin, be on the lookout for red envelopes around the mall).
San Francisco Premium Outlets
Feb. 11–Mar. 2
The outlet mall in Livermore will offer live performances plus a free hot tea bar on two weekends: On Saturday, Feb. 17, hear classical Chinese music and watch the Kung Fu Lion Dancers and a Chinese martial arts demonstration; on Sunday, Feb. 25, there will be Chinese folk dancers plus a free photo booth. For the weeks around the festivities, there will be any number of Lunar New Year-themed deals (like up to 65 percent off watches).
South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa
Feb. 13–March 4
This upscale Orange County mall is offering up ideas for red-and-gold spirit gifts and special Year Of The Dog gifts—like a crystal dog from Liuli. On the weekends of Feb. 17-19 and Feb. 24-25, shoppers can check out the live music, a children’s variety show, a Chinese zodiac expert, and singers from the Chinese-American ETTV Top Idol. From Feb. 13–March 4, you can also enter a contest to win extra-lucky red envelopes, including a $1,000 shopping spree. Just off the Carousel Court, don’t miss the photography exhibit about President Nixon’s historic 1972 trip to China (the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum is in nearby Yorba Linda).
Santa Monica Place
A short walk from the beach in Santa Monica, this outdoor shopping center will feature a giant gong and wishing trees over the long weekend. On the afternoon of Feb. 17, watch a show emceed by former The Voice contestant Katherine Ho, featuring stilt walkers, traditional Korean fan dancers, a Chinese dough artist, and a Chinese dragon dance.
Fashion Valley, San Diego
The San Diego home of branches of Neiman Marcus, Hermes, and Prada will host a variety of dance troupes, such as the Southern Sea Dragon & Lion Dance Association and Blue Ming, along with performances by San Diego Sunrise Tai Chi.