Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year

Tet Logo designed by UVSA student graphic designer

Story and photos by: Savannah Ho

February is known as the month of love, thanks to Valentine’s Day. But for the Asian population, it’s the month of the Lunar New Year. Lion dancing, fireworks and red envelopes are some of the most popular sights for those who celebrate it. This year, it’s the year of the pig. 

There are plenty of ways to go and see how Asians honor their largest holiday of the year, but the best place to do so locally is at Tet Festival, located at the OC Fairgrounds.

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Tet is what Vietnamese people call the Lunar New Year and the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (UVSA) hosts the biggest celebration of it every year in Costa Mesa. There, you can find all sorts of food vendors serving up their best Vietnamese dishes from traditional bowls of pho to the more modern take on it, the pho burgers. If you’re feeling competitive, you can compete in the pho eating contest and if you’re feeling bold, there’s the balut, a developing duck egg, eating contest.

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Speaking of contests, Tet Festival is also home to the Miss Vietnam of Southern California beauty pageant. There will be 20 beautiful young women competing for the title of Miss VSC on Friday, Feb. 8. If you’re interested in seeing a traditional dance performed by talented ladies dressed in Vietnam’s traditional wear, ao dai, the MVSC pageant is for you.

Tet Festival also hosts dance competitions between various groups of wonderfully talented dancers. If you want to be wowed but the synchronization between people and music, be sure to check that out on Saturday, Feb. 9.

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The iconic opening ceremony of Tet Festival also occurs on Saturday. The performers are accompanied by lion dancers who welcome in the new year by parading around the fairgrounds. This is traditionally followed by a spring wedding of a lucky couple to kick off Tet with positive emotions.

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Also found at the festival are Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) booths from different universities of Southern California. Our very own CSULB VSA will also be there, hosting their famous fishing game, where players have the chance to catch their own pet fish to bring home.

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If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the Vietnamese culture, there’s Little Vietnam (LVN) located at the center of the fairgrounds. There, hardworking volunteers set up props and scenes that mimic iconic locations of Vietnam where festival goers can take photos of themselves.

Tet Festival runs from Friday, Feb. 8 to Sunday, Feb. 9 and costs a mere $6 to attend. So if you’re not doing anything this weekend, come out to Tet Festival and experience the Lunar New Year. It’ll be a truly memorable experience.

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