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Thursday, February 7, 2013 - Page updated at 06:30 p.m.

Weekend Highlight
A celebration of the Year of the Snake in the Chinatown ID

By Madeline McKenzie
Seattle Times staff

Colorful lion and dragon dances are among festivities welcoming the Year of the Snake at the Lunar New Year Festival on Saturday at Hing Hay Park in Seattle’s Chinatown International District.

The snake is the sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, said to indicate intuitive, introspective, refined people born this year and in 2001, 1989, ’77, ’65 and ’53. The dragon is the sign of the year just passed; the ancient tale is that snake is dragon’s little brother, a dragon that fell from the sky and lost its wings. Real snakes will be on hand at a live reptile show at the festival (though no dragons, alas), along with calligraphy, origami and other activities, games and entertainment.

Restaurants around the neighborhood will fuel your festival day with a variety of $2 tastes from cuisines of China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand at 25 locations around the International District. A map with a list of food choices is available online, along with a card that can be turned in for a prize drawing for anyone with four stamps or more.

Lion and dragon dances by local martial-arts clubs open and close the festival at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The dragon dance — one of the most popular Chinese new year traditions — features a long, brightly colored dragon costume carried on poles by many people on a winding run. The lion dance — thought to bring good luck in the new year — is performed by two people in an ornate costume with a large, fanciful lion head.

Taiko drumming, a Filipino Drill Team, Korean traditional arts and the award-winning Massive Monkees break dance crew are among other performances throughout the day. Kids are invited to participate in the Children’s Costume Parade Contest to show off their best cultural New Year’s outfit; parents are welcome to accompany little ones onstage.

Traditionally the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar, lunar new year is celebrated by many Asian cultures. Other upcoming festivities include the Vietnamese Lunar New Year Tet Festival Feb. 16-17 at Seattle Center.

Madeline McKenzie:

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