How does the song go? “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot.” Well, in Portland we did the opposite — in the year 2000 a beautiful walled Chinese classical garden opened to the public on a site that was once a parking lot. Right in the middle of the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood, occupying an entire city block, the beautiful Lan Su Chinese Garden is the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China. Built by artisans from Suzhou, Portland’s sister city which is renowned for its Ming Dynasty gardens, the Lan Su Chinese Garden is an oasis of calm and inspiration created by the harmonious blending of nature, art, and architecture. Trust us, as soon as you enter the gates you definitely feel like you have left the cares of the modern world behind. We highly recommend a visit.
We have been missing the garden for several months while it was closed and undergoing some renovations, but we are so happy to announce that it is opening its gates once again on February 8 . . . just in time for a very special New Year’s Celebration of the Year of the Monkey. Over the course of 15 days, many fun events are happening, starting with a jam-packed day on February 8 when each visitor will receive a hong bao, a traditional lucky red envelope. Also on this day, the first 100 visitors will get the opportunity to roll oranges and coins over the threshold of the front door to bring forth prosperity in a tradition called “Roll in the Wealth.”
There are so many wonderful activities planned for bringing in the Year of the Monkey that we can’t possibly list them all here, but if any of these sound intriguing, be sure to get yourself to the garden: folk art demonstrations, calligraphy workshops, lion dances, puppet shows, martial arts demonstrations, feng shui talks, and wishing tree activities. Capping it all off are four nights of lantern viewings on February 19-22 where you can see the magnificent splendor of 150 red lanterns hanging from pavilions and 250 floating lanterns on newly renovated Lake Zither as well as a dragon procession and a lion dance. Lions and dragons and lanterns, oh my!
Chinese New Year is the most popular time of year to visit the garden, so purchasing tickets in advance is highly encouraged. What’s great is that all New Year’s events are included with admission except for the Lantern Viewing Evenings. And, the garden is just a few blocks from the starting location of our Underground Portland Tour, so a stop at the garden either before or after your tour would be a wonderful addition to your itinerary.
We wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous Chinese New Year!
Article by Natasha Kelly