*Editor's Note: This year's celebration at the Museum of International Folk Art has been cancelled due to Covid-19. For other lion dance performances by the Quang Minh Buddhist Temple Youth Group, check out its schedule on Facebook.
ON FEBRUARY 6, bang a gong and get your Lunar New Year on at Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art. Between the pounding of Taiko drums, a dancing Buddha, and multiple lions on parade, the free annual celebration of Asian New Year traditions marks new beginnings—2022 is the Year of the Tiger—while casting out negative energy. Leslie Fagre, the museum’s director of education, says its most attended annual event is “a festival really celebrating family.”
Along with hands-on arts and crafts and a participatory drum session, the fun centers on a lion dance performance by the Quang Minh Buddhist Temple Youth Group of Albuquerque, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping Buddhist and Vietnamese language and culture alive in New Mexico. The Quang Minh lion dance team practices year-round, training in martial arts, tricks, and the kind of showmanship that revs up a crowd. Bao Giang, lion dance team leader and drummer, provides some insights into the Vietnamese Tet tradition.
It’s all good vibes. “The main reason for the performance is to push away bad luck and bring in prosperity, promote success, and all around bless the business, event, and people who are able to attend,” Giang says.
Those lion heads are heavy. Giang, 32, became part of the dance troupe as a teenager. Martial arts training helps the two people in each lion costume keep their stance without toppling over.
Move toward the lettuce. “The performances are high-energy and really fun,” Giang says. “The best part is when the lions eat lettuce, which represents money, and then spit it back out into the crowd. Our superstition is that if the lettuce hits you, you’ll be blessed that year with lots of money.”
Mardi Gras in the Mountains, Red River
February 24–March 1
The snowcapped mountains of Red River are blasted by Cajun heat from a unique combo of Mardi Gras and local traditions. Festivities include the burning of the Tchoupitoulas, who symbolizes troubles going up in smoke, and a Grand Ball.
Play in the Snow
Break the ice on the new year with three winter fests.
Chama Chile Ski Classic and Winter Fiesta
Taos Winter Wine Festival
Cloudcroft Winter Festival