Friday, February 4, 2011

The Year of the Rabbit: Ideas for Celebrating Chinese New Year Around LA

Celebrate China

With the White House putting on a full-blown State Dinner for the Chinese president a few weeks back, it's an exciting time to celebrate all things Chinese - something that is particularly easy to do in Southern California. The main attraction of the weekend is the Golden Dragon parade in Chinatown, part of a two-day festival that we attended a few years ago (see below for details). The Huntington's Flowering Fragrance Garden is worth a trip to Pasadena, and we know little kids will adore the extensive activities put on at the Huntington this weekend. Finally, we've always loved throwing our own version of the holiday by decorating with Chinese lanterns, serving some great Chinese food and learning about another culture's tradition.

Chinese New Year in Chinatown: The celebrations began Wednesday night at Chuan Thien Hau (Cam Au) Temple, as the Chinese community welcomed the Year of the Rabbit. The 12th Annual Golden Dragon Parade takes place this Saturday (2/5 at 1:00 PM) with floats and marching bands, thousands of spectators and a street festival ongoing throughout the weekend. Click here for our Popcorn Adventure about the event, which we paired with a wonderful movie about a boy learning to play the violin called Together. Click here for event details from the Chinatown website.

Chinese New Year at the Huntington: Celebrate with lion dancers, musical and art demonstrations and a scavenger hunt for kids at a two day celebration of the Year of the Rabbit this Saturday and Sunday (2/5-2/6) at the Huntington Gardens. Click here for details. And, here is our Popcorn Adventure about the wonderful Flowering Fragrance Garden, a Chinese garden which opened three years ago at the Huntington. We paired it with Kung Fu Panda, a beautiful animated film that explores Chinese culture in the course of an exciting action story.

Photography from China: Currently on view at the Getty is an interesting exhibit of contemporary photography from artists working in China. Photography from the New China contains some images that may be inappropriate for small children (including some nudity) but the exhibit offers a rare glimpse into what the cultural elite are producing in China. For a more traditional view, check out an exhibit that explores the origins of photography in China, Brush and Shutter: Early Photography in China. This show opens at the Getty on February 8.

Throw a Chinese New Year's Party: Invite a group of kids over and serve Chinese food. It's interesting for kids to learn how another culture celebrates a new year, and most party stores will help you set the mood with red lanterns and coin envelopes. For a meal, the ambitious foodies can attempt a complex recipe while others might prefer to bring in some yummy take-out. Click here to learn a bit more about the traditions of this holiday. For food ideas, click over to Cookstr, where you'll find 10 Recipes for the Chinese New Year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kids Off The Couch: February Radar Screen - From Groundhog Day to President's Day Weekend

KOTC Subscriber Discount and Ticket Giveaway to TRACES

Punxsutawney Phil predicted, earlier today, that we're in for an early spring! (Click here for a silly video of the official Groundhog Day proceedings). As the worst storm in decades hits the US, that's good news for snow-weary Midwestern and Northeastern states. Meanwhile, back in sunny CA, the Superbowl, Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day are stacking up like airplanes at LAX. We'll give you the rundown on how to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit later this week and are dreaming up some Valentine's Day ideas, but we have to ask you this: do you have your President's Day weekend plans yet?!

TICKET GIVEAWAY: TRACES is a gravity-defying theatrical experience that combines the acrobatics of a great circus with a street-wise hipness that will please everyone in the family. Kids Off the Couch subscribers can purchase seats for the show at a reduced rate (enter 4PACK when ordering online and receive four seats for $99) and may enter a contest to win four tickets to the 1:00PM show on Sunday, February 13. Click here if you want to be entered in the sweeps and here for the event website.TRACES is playing at the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Hollywood until February 13.

PRE-SCHOOL AND EARLY ELEMENTARY: If you haven't already fallen in love with the magical arbors of The Descanso Gardens, this weekend is the best possible time to be introduced. The annual Camellia Festival is Saturday, February 5 with plenty of fun activities, including Faery Tours of the Magical Lawns that run all morning starting at 9:30. Or foray indoors at The Geffen Playhouse on Saturday, February 5 for the ever popular Story Pirates at 11:00 AM.Click here to buy tickets.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Come to a free World City at the Music Center event on Saturday, February 12. New Orleans' own Hot 8 Brass Band has epitomized New Orleans street music for over a decade. Known for playing the traditional Second Line parades, the band infuses its performances with the funk and energy that make New Orleans music loved around the world. All tickets are free and are distributed on Grand Avenue at 2nd Street. Tickets for the 11:00 AM performance distributed beginning at 10:00 AM. Tickets for the 12:30 PM performance distributed beginning at 11:00 AM. All performances subject to change. Click here for details or call (213) 972-4396.

MIDDLE SCHOOL: Are your kids fascinated by mummies? The art of mixing pigment and wax on a warm surface, known as encaustic painting, will be taught in a one-day workshop at the Getty Villa. Encaustic: How to Paint in Molten Wax is offered Friday, February 11 and repeats Saturday, February 12, and Sunday, February 13. All classes are 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM; course fee is $95, and includes materials. If fashion is more their thing, swing by LACMA on any Sunday this month for Andell Family Sundays, a family-oriented art celebration that will help families deepen their appreciation of the show Fashioning Fashion - a show that our kids thought was really cool. February 6, 13, 20, 27 from 12:30 PM - 3:30 PM. If your kids like being spooked, check out the California Science Center's Goosebumps: Science of Fear exhibit, open through April. It's the same show that was in town a few years ago, so click here for our review of it from 2007. Finally, bring a portrait of your dog or paint one of the live puppies provided as a muse at the Skirball's Sit. Stay. Paint. Good Dog. project on Sunday, February 13 at 1:00 PM. Tickets required at this special event on the last day of theMaira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World).

HIGH SCHOOL: Parents and kids should block out a few hours this Sunday, February 6 (before the big game, that is) to explore the Summer Opportunities Fair (11:00 AM - 2:00 PM) at Marymount High School where representatives from many camps and teen programs will be on hand to talk about summer sleep away experiences for kids ages 8-18. Here is a recommendation from a subscriber: "We have found some truly outstanding summer trips/language camps/community service/sports camps at this event. It's an awesome one-stop-shop. For personalized, free assistance, contact: Jill Levin 310-202-8448 or write to her at -- tell her what you are looking for, where, what age group, what price level, and she'll find it." Also, if you worry whether texting could be taking over your kids' lives, check out That's Not Cool, a site about textual harassment designed to help kids take back their personal space.

PARENTS: Groundhog Day, the delightfully romantic Bill Murray classic, is playing at the Egyptian Theater tonight, Wednesday February 2, at 7:30. Need another date idea for this weekend? Check out Maira Kal All of This And Nothing, the Hammer's biennial invitational of LA-based artists. On view through late April.

Bard Worthy: This month offers two excellent chances to introduce kids, young and old, to Shakespeare. The Geffen Playhouse has a Romeo and Juliet performance on February 12, with a fun pre-show exploration of the Bard's language, and there's a great new version of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the South Coast Repertory, playing through February 20th. The show is getting rave reviews, so book fast.

A Mammoth Year for Snow: Need a President's Day weekend solution? With record amounts of snowfall this year, there's no better time to teach your kids to ski or snowboard. Click here for good day trips to the snow, or call 1-800-Mammoth to book a vacation at our favorite mountain. Our tip? Book ski school classes now, because they'll fill up quickly for the big get-away weekends.

Just for Fun: British chef Jamie Oliver has opened a kitchen in Westwood that's open to the public, and he staged a stunt to call attention to our children's unhealthy diets: he filled a school bus with sand to represent the amount of sugar in our kids' diets.

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