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UC Irvine rings in the Year of the Rat to start local Lunar New Year events

The celebration of the Lunar New Year began early at UC Irvine.

The university rang in the Year of the Rat on Tuesday with events at the Multipurpose Academic and Administrative Building and in the plaza outside the Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway building.

The celebration included a street festival and lion dancers parading down Pereira Drive, an academic discussion on the foods and cultures associated with the holiday, a Disney-sponsored raffle that included Disneyland Resort tickets, artistic demonstrations, interactive workshops and a laser light show.

The festivities were presented by the university’s Long U.S.-China Institute in partnership with several other campus departments.

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Lunar New Year marks the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar and occurs on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The rat is the first animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, which restarts Saturday.

Here are other area celebrations this week:

South Coast Plaza

South Coast Plaza’s Lunar New Year celebration begins Thursday and continues through Feb. 9.

The Costa Mesa mall will host a centerpiece exhibit in Jewel Court, along with various entertainment offerings, sales promotions and other activities. Among them:

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  • 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Feb. 1–2, Carousel Court, Level 1: Children’s lantern crafts and Asian cultural performances, including lion dancers, UniStar Children’s Variety Show, Konnect Dance Group, Goreu Traditional Art Group, Irvine Chinese School/South Coast Chinese Cultural Center and Kingsman Dance Group
  • Thursday through Feb. 9 during mall hours, adjacent to Jewel Court, Level 2: China World Heritage photo exhibit from the China National Tourist Office in Los Angeles and the Mount Huangshan collection from Xinhuanet North America
  • Thursday through Feb. 9 during mall hours, Saks Fifth Avenue wing, Level 2, and Jewel Court: Chinese calligraphy exhibition featuring works from calligrapher and master of sinology Fo Tao

South Coast Plaza is at 3333 Bristol St. For a complete festival entertainment schedule, visit southcoastplaza.com/lunar-new-year.

UVSA Tet Festival

The OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa will host this weekend’s UVSA Tet Festival of Southern California, which bills itself as the nation’s largest Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival. It is run by volunteer high school and college students, young professionals and parents. UVSA stands for the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations.

Attractions will include a Super Smash Brothers Ultimate tournament, eating and children’s drawing contests, live entertainment, a replica of a traditional village in Vietnam, vendors and a pageant.

Hours are 4-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

General admission tickets are $6. Parking is $9.

The OC Fair & Event Center is at 88 Fair Drive. For more information, visit tetfestival.org.

OC Tet Festival

Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do is sponsoring the annual OC Tet Festival at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley from Friday to Sunday.

“Little Saigon in Orange County has become a destination for thousands of visitors from around the world who come each year to celebrate the Lunar New Year,” Do said in a statement. “The OC Tet Festival is a wonderful cultural and entertainment event for families to celebrate new beginnings together.”

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The free event will feature live entertainment, lion dances, carnival rides, games, a firecracker lighting ceremony, Vietnamese food and cultural performances and more.

Hours are 2-10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, with a ceremony at 1 p.m.; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Mile Square Regional Park is at 16801 Euclid St. For more information, call (714) 834-3110 or email Joyce.Rivero@ocgov.com.

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