Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, is almost here.
The Year of the Rabbit begins on Sunday, and the Lantern Festival follows on February 5. Family reunions are an important aspect of the holiday and there are several restaurants celebrating with one-off buffet selections, set menus and special a la carte dishes.
As festivities kick off, here are some events to usher in the occasion.
Meal deals in Abu Dhabi
The Chinese restaurant at Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri will host brunches, lunches and dinners for the occasion from Sunday until February 9. The menus will showcase dishes handpicked by chef Qiguo Su, with brunch and lunch from noon to 3pm and dinner at 6pm to 11pm.
Guests can also take part in a Gongfu Tea Ceremony with tea master Liu Ping while enjoying their meals. The hotel will also have a traditional lion dance on Sunday at 11am. It will be followed by a "Yee Sang toss", which involves throwing seafood salad into the air to signal prosperity for the new year.
January 22 to February 9; lunch from Dh168, brunches from Dh198, dinners from Dh198; noon-3pm and 6pm-11pm; 02 509 8555; www.shangri-la.com
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi
The Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant at Emirates Palace will have a menu for the holiday. Ideal for sharing, it includes a welcome drink as well as eight dishes to welcome in the new year. Expect an octopus salad drizzled with yuzu plum sauce, the Happiness dim sum trio, a cherrywood-smoked roasted duck and stir-fried Wagyu beef. Guests can also tie ribbons with their wishes for the New Year imprinted on them, as part of a traditional ceremony.
January 21 to February 5; Sunday to Friday, 6.30pm-11.30pm, Saturday noon-3.30pm and 6.30pm-11.30pm; Dh598; 02 690 7739; www.hakkasan.com/abu-dhabi
Teatro at the Park Rotana will have a special a la carte menu to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit, available from Saturday until January 27. Expect dishes such as noodle bowls, pan-seared king prawns and a herbed spring chicken, plussesame seed balls with a purple yam filling, ice cream and fruits for dessert.
January 21-27; 6pm-1am; 02 657 3317; www.rotana.com
Dai Pai Dong
The Cantonese restaurant at Rosewood Abu Dhabi will host a 16-day festival. On Saturday, there will be an eight-course set menu for Dh298, while on Sunday there will be a Year of Rabbit Prosperity Feast, a three-hour dinner experience priced from Dh388. There will also be a family-style set menu with eight courses from Monday until February 4, costing Dh298 and a three-hour lantern festival brunch on February 5 from Dh388.
January 21 to February 5; Sunday to Thursday, noon-11pm, Friday and Saturday, noon-midnight; various prices; 02 813 5588; www.rosewoodhotels.com
Meal deals in Dubai
The Art Deco-inspired Asian restaurant in the Dubai International Financial Centre will celebrate with a specially curated a la carte menu that includes lobster and enoki mushroom soup, steamed rabbit and prawn dumplings, and Chinese-style salmon sashimi with chilli vinegar dressing. Other dishes such as crispy chilli beef, whole lobster and fried roast duck are also on the menu. There will also be a live entertainment in the form of Chinese dancers who will showcase traditional dance.
January 19 to 31; noon-4pm and 6pm-midnight; 04 564 0505; shanghaime-restaurant.com
The pan-Asian restaurant in Jumeirah Lakes Towers is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a four-course set menu this weekend for Dh300 per person. Expect items such as the Signature Dim Sum Basket, honey-glazed chicken charsui, buttermilk prawns, golden chilli garlic lobster, steamed sea bass and Cantonese roast chicken.
January 21 and 22; 7pm; Dh300 per person; 04 574 1111; www.tajhotels.com
Contemporary Asian fusion restaurant Taiko will host a one-night only celebration on Sunday. Chefs Schilo van Coevorden and Guido Wesselman have teamed up for a multi-course set menu to mark the Lunar New Year. Dishes include lobster with black curry, gyoza paired with red curry sauce, fresh crab congee topped with black truffle and Waygu dim sum. The menu costs Dh425 per person and includes one drink.
January 22; 7pm-11:30p; Dh425 per person; 04 281 4010; www.sofitel-dubai-theobelisk.com
Tet, short for Tet Nguyen Dan or Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is one of the most important celebrations in Vietnamese culture. This year it celebrates the Year of the Cat (as it has different zodiac animals from the Chinese calendar). Hoi An at Shangri-La Dubai will have a special five-course set menu for Dh599 with dishes such as Vietnamese pho beef noodles soup, pan-fried seabass with lemongrass puree and wok-fried prawn.
January 21-25; Monday to Friday, 7pm-midnight; Saturday and Sunday, noon-4pm, 7pm-midnight; 04 405 2712; www.hoiandubai.com
The Cantonese restaurant at Atlantis, The Palm, will be serving a set menu of eight dishes. Priced at Dh598, the meal is said to bring luck, happiness and prosperity. Expect a lo hei “prosperity toss” octopus salad with yuzu plum sauce, dim sum trio, cherrywood-smoked roasted duck, stir-fried Wagyu beef and more. Children under 10 are welcome for family seating until 8.30pm.
January 21 to February 5; 6pm to 1am; Dh598 per person; free for children under 10; 04 426 0752; www.hakkasan.com/dubai
The authentic fine-dining restaurant on Bluewaters Island will have a set menu for lunch and dinner from Friday until January 27. It is priced at Dh550 and includes a welcome drink. The menu includes some of Shi’s most popular dishes as well as some created for the holiday. Expect a selection of dim sum, a sushi platter, a choice of main course and one dessert. Children under the age of eight can dine for free and will also receive a fortune cookie and surprise gift box.
January 20 to 27; 1pm-1am Sunday to Thursday, 1pm-2am Friday and Saturday; Dh550 per person, free for children under eight; 04 393 9990; www.shirestaurant.com
The waterside restaurant at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam is celebrating with a set menu until February 13. Starters include carrot broth, hot and sour wonton soup and scallop dumpings, while guests can choose their mains of clay-pot sea bass fillet, stir-fried chicken, pork belly or wok-fried beef, paired with black truffle fried brown and jasmine rice or fried noodles with chicken. Dessert is chilled lemongrass jelly with passion fruit sorbet. On Sunday, there will also be an authentic lion dance performance as well as a giveaway of Chinese red envelopes with a surprise for each table.
Until February 13; 12.30pm-10.30pm; Dh288 per person; 800 323 232; www.jumeirah.com
Other ways to celebrate
Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi
The theme park on Yas Island will celebrate this weekend with characters such as Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester and Tweety dressed in special Lunar New Year outfits. Families will be able to take photos with the characters as they roam around the park.
Until January 22; Friday, 11am-7pm, Saturday and Sunday, 11am-8pm; tickets start at Dh325; www.wbworldabudhabi.com
The adventure park in Dubai will celebrate the Lunar New Year on Sunday as the Ghaf tree forest will be lit up in red with traditional paper lanterns and themed decorations. Children can enjoy an arts and craft station and interact with bunnies for the auspicious occasion. The decorations will stay lit in the park for 15 days after the start of Chinese New Year.
January 22 until February 6; Monday to Wednesday, 10am-6pm, Thursday, 2pm-6pm, Friday to Sunday 10am-8pm; 052 178 7616; www.aventuraparks.com
Legoland will be celebrating the Year of the Rabbit from Friday until January 29 with a host of activities, including a Lego dragon hunt in Miniland, a Chinese Wishing Wall and a Chinese New Year Mosaic built at the Factory Street Fun Zone. There will also be a daily factory street parade, rabbit cookie-decorating and limited-time Chinese New Year snacks and treats at Market Restaurant and The Cafe.
There will also be a Chinese New Year Sleepover at Legoland Hotel with exclusive themed activities such as a Lego Rabbit Build creative workshop, arts and crafts and scavenger hunt.
Until January 29; Monday to Thursday, 10am-6pm; Friday to Sunday, 10am-7pm; entry is Dh295; www.legoland.com/dubai
Ibn Buttata Mall
Ibn Buttata Mall will host activities and entertainment until January 29 including a free children's Chinese zodiac origami workshop. Other entertainment includes dance performances by The Street Fighters from now until Sunday at 6.10pm, 7pm, 8pm and 9pm in the China Court. There will also be a parade with performers in colourful costumes roaming the mall this weekend. Those who spend Dh150 can also create their own jewellery at the wire art calligraphy workshop.
Until January 29; Sunday to Thursday, 10am-10pm; Friday and Saturday, 10am-midnight; www.ibnbattutamall.com
The shopping mall will have activities and festivities until January 29. Expect dragon and lion cultural dance performances every hour from 4.40 pm until 8.55 pm throughout the festive period. There will be stilt walkers dressed in traditional costumes and a face-changing show to set the mood for Chinese New Year.
There will also be art installations representing the Year of the Rabbit. Families can visit the knot booth in Dragon Mart 2 to pick up free lucky charm knots and have their names written in Chinese by a professional calligraphy artist. On the weekends, children can take part in workshops from 2pm to 10pm to create rabbit-shaped lanterns to take home.
January 20-29; Sunday to Thursday, 10am-10pm; Friday, 10am-11pm; Saturday, noon-midnight; entry is free; mall.dragonmart.ae