Two local institutes ring in Chinese New Year

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Illustration by Estefania B. Alonso

The festivities will include food, performances and a parade.

By Richard Montemayor

The Institute of Texan Cultures hosts the 28th annual Asian Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

“This is an opportunity to experience a San Antonio tradition that has been around for 28 years of several Asian cultures in one place,” said James Benavides, communications specialist for the institute.

“It’s authentic; it’s actual Chinese, Japanese and Korean families and organizations that will be preparing the food for the festival as well as performing dances to their native music.”

The festival was originally organized to take place at the San Antonio Museum of Art, Benavides said.

“They came to us; they outgrew their first venue, originally organized for the opening of the Chinese Eastern Arts wing at the museum,” he said.

In that first year, they had a few thousand people, Benavides said. Over the years it has grown, and Benavides estimates it will attract 10,000 people this year.

“The festival will start off with a lion dance parade through the grounds at the institute that will conclude with a dedication ceremony,” he said.

Several organizations will be participating in this year’s festival, including the Japan-America Society of San Antonio, San Antonio Lion Dance Association, Chinese Women’s Club, India Association of San Antonio, Korean American Cultural Center of San Antonio, Karilagan Philippine Cultural Group Inc., Bangladeshi Association of San Antonio, Taiwanese Association of America and San Antonio China Alliance. Benavides said one of the exhibits is the “Sikhs: Legacy of the Punjab.”

The exhibit features a collection of traditional Sikh art, information on the culture’s history and beliefs, and artifacts such as ceremonial weapons and armor.

“It originated from the Smithsonian; we updated it for a Texas showing with specific content,” he said.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the gate for adults 13 and older, $5 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and under.

Advance tickets are available at the ITC store, 801 E Chavez Blvd, and online at

The Institute of World Cultures at the University of the Incarnate Word will host a free Asian New Year Festival 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday in Marian Hall Ballroom. Guests can sample Asian cuisine while listening to authentic Asian music and watching traditional Asian dances and drum performances.

“Guests can also participate in a variety of cultural activities and games that are scheduled during the festival,” said Mingzhi Chen, marketing junior at UIW.

For more information, call 210-829-6001.


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