Las Vegas goes Asian

Lunar New Year festivities continue in Las Vegas this weekend with major events planned at the Fremont Street Experience and Chinatown Plaza.

The Year of the Horse began Friday, with the official observance traditionally lasting about two weeks.

Activities at the Fremont Street Experience downtown will run from Friday through Sunday with cultural performances, vendors and the Las Vegas Spring Festival Parade. Chinatown Plaza, 4255 Spring Mountain Road, will feature an Asian food festival and cultural activities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The third annual Chinese New Year in the Desert Festival gets underway downtown at 6:30 p.m. Friday on the Third Street Stage with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, music from the Desert Winds ensemble and an authentic dragon dance by the Las Vegas Lohan School of Shaolin. Virtual firecrackers will appear overhead on the Viva Vision screen.

The DragonFest Concert Series continues on the Third Street Stage, beginning at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, featuring performers from China, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Among the entertainers scheduled to participate in the concert series are Henry Chuc, Victoria Zhong Wei and the Society of Seven.

The International Vendor Village, featuring food and additional cultural performances, will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday on Third Street between Fremont Street and Stewart Avenue.

Amid the festivities on Saturday will be an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest Zumba class. Registration is available online at www.cnyinthedesert.com or on the day of the event starting at 11 a.m. The Zumbathon will run from 1 to 3 p.m. by the Third Street Stage.

The McDonald’s Las Vegas Spring Festival Parade, featuring colorful floats, bands, dancers and others, will start at 11 a.m. at Gass Avenue and Fourth Street and proceed up Fourth Street through the Fremont Street Experience to Ogden Avenue.

To observe the Lunar Lantern Festival that concludes New Year activities, paper lanterns containing wishes for 2014 made by Clark County School District students will be displayed throughout the event. In addition, visitors can make their own lanterns to add to the display.

“Las Vegas is very pleased to usher in the Year of the Horse with an assortment of cultural amenities, attractions and celebrations,” Michael Goldsmith, vice president of international sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said in statement. “China is an important market for the destination as it is our No. 1 source of international travel from Asia.”

The Chinese New Year in the Desert Festival is presented by the Visitors Authority, Fremont Street Experience and Golden Catalyst, with the Lunar Lantern Festival sponsored by the St. Jude’s Women’s Auxiliary. Most of the activities are free. For further details, visit www.cnyinthedesert.com.

About 5,000 people are expected to attend the Chinatown Plaza festivities, sponsored by the Chinese American Chamber of Commerce. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for youngsters 5 and younger.

The event will feature lion and dragon dances, along with other ethnic dances, Japanese taiko drums, and Chinese martial arts and acrobats.

Food vendors will serve dishes from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan and Hawaii, as well as Cantonese and Mandarin offerings. Arts and crafts also will be featured.

Further information is available at www.lvchinatown.com.

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