Yellow mai flower petals fall onto the parking lot in front of Westminster’s Asian Garden Mall during the last half of January. Instead of cars, floral vendors parked their plants underneath white tents where Little Saigon residents flock to gather their supplies and decorations for the New Year.

The Asian Garden Mall’s annual flower festival is only one of Orange County’s many fun-filled event destinations this holiday. In addition to being a hot spot for traditional Vietnamese food and clothing, the Asian Garden Mall is also a hub for Vietnamese folks to gather in celebration of their favorite time of the year: Tet. 

Vendors at the Asian Garden Mall Flower Festival sell a plethora of floral arrangements containing orchids, marigolds, mai flowers and more. Credit: KIM PHAM, Voice of OC

Tet is the Vietnamese term for Lunar New Year, which is a holiday that is also observed by those of Korean, Chinese, Tibetan, Singaporean, Mongolian and others of East Asian descent. In conjunction with the Chinese Zodiac’s 12-year cycle, 2021’s Year of the Ox will conclude at the arrival of 2022’s Year of the Tiger on Tuesday, Feb. 1, with celebrations lasting through the weekend. 

COVID Safety

In response to the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Orange County Health Care Agency recommends taking preventative measures when attending public events, such as wearing facial coverings and physical distancing.

Further safety restrictions may be imposed by event organizers to help curb the spread of COVID-19, so be sure to visit their respective websites for the most up-to-date information. 

Orange County’s very own coalition of Asian American and Pacific Islander agencies have also created a culturally responsive resource to find COVID-19 information and services here.

The Little Saigon district bordering the cities of Garden Grove and Westminster sees the most traffic as its annual Tet Parade has been drawing crowds since 2013. 

For this reason, the parade organizers, the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, have released an operational plan detailing their safety efforts to comply with the state Health and Human Services Agency amid the Omicron surge.

In addition to using social media channels to promote facial masking, social distancing and getting fully vaccinated, the Little Saigon Tet Association also plans to coordinate its efforts with the UVSA Tet Festival in Costa Mesa and the OC Tet Festival in Fountain Valley to bring further attention to the state recommendations for indoor events.

Whether you want to spend Lunar New Year on Bolsa Avenue watching the annual firecracker celebration or swallowing boba pearls in a milk-tea drinking contest at the OC Fairgrounds, Orange County has a variety of offerings for your entertainment.

Below is a list of local Lunar New Year celebrations, including long-running and traditional Tet events, that desperately miss the presence of people. 

Little Saigon Tet Parade

When: 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 5
Where: Bolsa Avenue, Westminster
Price: Free

Viet Rainbow OC Continues to Represent During Tet

As a parade participant since 2014, Viet Rainbow OC (VROC), a community building grassroots organization, wants to remind those who celebrate Tet that the holiday is culturally significant for reasons that go beyond the material satisfaction of receiving red envelopes of cash and wearing spring-colored garments. 

VROC’s executive director, Uyen Hoang, echoes her organization’s beliefs that Tet is a time for advocacy as much as it is a time for celebration.

“There’s been some years where we’ve advocated for immigrant rights during the parade, holding signs and doing our best to understand that our identities intersect with other issues too,” Hoang said.

Members of Viet Rainbow OC wore ao dai’s and carried rainbow flags as they marched down Bolsa Avenue in 2015, marking the second year since the correction of their exclusion from the Tet parade. Credit: Photo courtesy of VROC/Mark Kirshner

Their activism dates back to pre-2014, when the Vietnamese Federation of Southern California excluded LGBTQ Vietnamese Americans from walking in the parade. 

According to Hoang, VROC’s successful fight for inclusion meant that they could march proudly during the Vietnamese community’s most important celebration of the year, while also continuing to advocate for progress. 

My Nguyen, VROC’s program manager, said Tet celebrations often involve many traditions, such as their group’s tradition of eating bao (steamed bun) together after finishing the parade walk every year.

But in recognition of the current public health crisis, Nguyen and the VROC team decided that such traditions should be altered for the safety of their members, an effort they hope to see mirrored by other organizations participating in Tet-related mega-events. 

“In our continuous invitation posts and reminders, we are requiring folks who want to join us to be fully vaccinated, as well as follow procedures like wearing face masks,” Nguyen said. “We want to make sure that no one feels pressure in attending and to participate in a way that makes them feel safe.”

The ninth annual Little Saigon Tet Parade will be taking place on Bolsa Avenue, starting at Magnolia Street and ending on Bushard Street. Hundreds of Little Saigon community leaders, business owners, elected officials and cultural associations will be marching in the parade, alongside hundreds of colorful floats and talented performers. 

In the past, the Tet parade has typically drawn tens of thousands of people to In the past, the Tet parade has typically drawn tens of thousands of people to spectate on the sidelines of Bolsa Avenue. Those who prefer watching the parade without the inconvenience of standing in a crowd can tune into one of the 20 TV stations that the parade will be broadcast live on.

UVSA Tet Festival

When: Feb. 5-6
Where: 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
Price: $8 general admission
Information: (714) 576-6411,

As one of the most popular event locations in Orange County, the OC Fairgrounds make the perfect destination for the food, flowers and fun that come with every Lunar New Year festivity. The Union of Vietnamese Student Associations has been hosting the nation’s largest Vietnamese Lunar New Year Festival for 35 years, with each year attracting more sponsors, businesses and, most importantly, visitors. 

Festival goers can sightsee in the cultural village section, Lang Viet Nam – a replica of a traditional Vietnamese village, or congratulate the couple getting married at Sunday’s spring wedding procession. If the festival’s usual selection of Instagrammable snacks and extra sweet drinks are not worth the price, participate in their pho eating contest for a chance to win a flatscreen TV. 

Annual OC Tet Festival

When: 5-10 p.m. Feb 4, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 5, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb 6
Where: 16801 Euclid St., Fountain Valley
Price: Free
Information: (714) 834-3110,

Join Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do at Miles Square Park on Lunar New Year weekend as he hosts the annual OC Tet Festival. Visitors can expect to see a variety of traditional Vietnamese cuisine, lion dances, carnival rides, cultural performances and more without having to pay an admission fee. 

The Vietnamese Cultural Center will also be open to visitors who are eager to learn about the different regions of Vietnam and its notable landscapes. With an abundance of Vietnamese culture at every turn, the festival serves as an opportunity for celebration and education.

Asian Garden Mall Flower Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., through Jan. 30
Where: 9200 Bolsa Ave., Westminster
Price: Free
Information: (714) 842-8018,

Little Saigon locals know that when the flower festival tents cover the Asian Garden Mall’s front parking lot, it is time to start getting ready for Tet. The mall’s annual flower festival is not just the perfect opportunity to pose for pictures in front of a backdrop of yellow and red petals, but it is also the prime destination for Vietnamese families in Orange County to get their Tet decor.

The vendors are open for business everyday leading up to Feb. 1, which marks the official day of Lunar New Year. At noon that day, visitors can watch the firecracker celebration from the sidewalks of Bolsa as the Asian Garden Mall rings in the Year of the Tiger.

The Asian Garden Mall’s Flower Festival vendors help Little Saigon residents prepare for the new year by selling Tet-themed merchandise such as lanterns, red envelopes and, their specialty, traditional holiday flowers. Credit: KIM PHAM, Voice of OC

Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure Park

When: Through Feb. 13
Where: 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim
Price: Theme park ticket and reservation required
Information: (714) 781-4636,

Experience Lunar New Year with a Disney twist at the Paradise Gardens Park in Disney California Adventure Park. With your regular theme park admission ticket, you’ll also get access to Mulan’s Lunar New Year procession, special appearances from popular Disney characters like Tigger, live entertainment and more.

Follow Mulan and her crew of traditional performers from Pixar Pier Gate to the Paradise Gardens Obelisk. Don’t miss the chance to see Mushu on a float with traditional drummers or wave at the Chinese dragon following their route. A first-time appearance by Raya from “Raya and the Last Dragon” will make this Lunar New Year celebration one for the books.

Online: Chinese Lunar New Year Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 6
Where: View on YouTube or Facebook
Price: Free
Information: (714) 567-3600,

The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana will be opting for a virtual Lunar New Year by hosting an online event that the whole family can participate in. The museum’s online Chinese Lunar New Year Festival will feature traditional holiday performances such as lion dancing and tutorials for festive art projects.

Lunar New Year at the Pacific Symphony

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 5
Where: 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Price: Varies by seating
Information: (714) 755-5788,

The Lunar New Year concert will take place in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, with doors opening at 7 p.m. The performances will include a mixture of Western and Eastern music and dance, featuring an impressive lineup of prominent guest artists.

While the Pacific Chorale and American Feel Young Chorus will no longer be singing live at the concert due to masking restrictions, they will be seen on a pre-recorded video, and the rest of the concert will proceed live as planned.

Lantern Festival with Pacific Symphony

When: 11 a.m. Feb. 26
Where: 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Price: Free
Information: (714) 755-5788,

The Pacific Symphony is excited to announce the return of its in-person lantern festival event, a celebration that marks the end of Lunar New Year festivities, the arrival of spring, and the reunion of family. The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall will feature performances from local music and dance groups such as the UCI Dragon Dance Team or the New Orange County Children’s Choir.

The concert hall lobby and Julianne and George Argyros Plaza will be filled with colorful floating lanterns and the sound of traditional Chinese drumming and dancing. Because this event is made for all ages and people, activities like lantern installation and lantern decorating are great for keeping children occupied.

The lion dance group that will be featured at Casa Romantica’s Lunar New Year event is Gió Nam Múa Lân (Southern Wind Lion Dance). Credit: Photo courtesy of Casa Romantica

D. Yoder Family Sundays: Lunar New Year Celebration

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 6
Where: Casa Romantica, 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente
Price: Free
Information: (949) 498-2139,

Casa Romantica’s first-ever Lunar New Year event will feature scavenger hunts, art crafts and traditional activities with many opportunities to win prizes and have fun. The first 100 people to arrive will be given red envelopes, but only some contain a special gift.

A special performance will take place in the outdoor courtyard at 11 a.m. featuring the lion dance group, Gió Nam Múa Lân (Southern Wind Lion Dance).

Kim Pham is a contributing writer for Voice of OC Arts & Culture. She can be reached at

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