Next to the historic North Train Station in Valencia (Estació del Nord in Valenciano), there is a thriving Asian community. While not quite matching the grandeur of San Francisco’s Chinatown, Valencia’s smaller version is still a rich resource worthy of experiencing. Whether it’s fantastic Asian markets and restaurants, or the more esoteric Chinese Cultural Center (Centro Cultural de China en Valencia), there are many ways to celebrate a rich Asian culture and influence in the city.
As I have noted before, the Valencian community loves to celebrate (see here, here, and here), and it’s no different with the Asian New Year celebration here in Valencia. Families lined the streets to watch displays of dragon dancers, traditional floats throwing out candy and festooned with lights, and other performers to help bring in the new year with energy, excitement, and fireworks.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the celebration, but it did not include street decorations, the large crowds of people, or the long or varied parade. We were standing close to the city center, which is where the parade ended. It was a chilly evening, but quite comfortable in the crowd. As the sun set, we could hear drums as the parade approached, and the first segment of the parade was introduced by a dragon spouting fire and weaving across the street to amaze (and probably frighten) children and adults alike. The crowd made it difficult to take many good pictures, but hopefully you can sense the excitement during the event.
Prior to the parade, there was a festival in front of the city hall with a number of booths and exhibits that shared cultural components and Asian new year’s traditions. While I didn’t have a chance to see the exhibits, there was a lot of energy in the crowd. Afterwards it was a perfect evening to roam the city with friends. (Check out these news articles from a local paper about the event.)
Local tidbit: As a more local follow-up, the day after the Asian New Year celebration was another, very different celebration of St. Vincent Martír.