Hakone Gardens: A New Year's Celebration

Welcome the Year of the Monkey at the nature-based festivity.

FEBRUARY, OF ALL THE MONTHS, can take on blur-like qualities (and, yes, occasionally brrr-like qualities, too, if winter is acting in the usual wintry way). We spend so much of January shoring up the new year, and closing out the previous year, that the second month can feel like the first, only we're a tad tired from all of our January doings. One glorious side note, though, is that a centerpiece to February, the Lunar New Year, has a way of occupying not just its official kick-off day but a few surrounding weekends. So if we should miss one party, or one parade, or one ceremony, we can still find a place in which to honor the coming year, and all of our hopes for it. We're now in the Year of the Monkey, and the festivities celebrating this auspicious time are lasting right through to the near-end of February, giving all of those people who want to join in the joy a chance to do so before the month wraps. Hakone Estate and Gardens in Saratoga is throwing a lively Lunar New Year to-do on Sunday, Feb. 28, complete with an array of cultural offerings, musical treats, and the added loveliness of the garden setting, a wonderful spot to start anew for another year.

SEVERAL DOINGS... are on the daylong docket, from Kung Fu demonstrations to a performance by a children's chorus to "a colorful and elaborate double-lion dance" by The Far East Dragon Lion Dance Association. The fun of the event will also pay tribute to Hakone Estate's centennial, so look for nods to the venerable property's history and views to the future. Calligraphy, a costume parade, face painting, and more merry moments in honor of the Year of the Monkey fill out the roster.

ADMISSION? You'll only need to pay the fee to enter the gardens; the Lunar New Year celebration is free to all Hakone guests. (Do note that parking is $20 at the gardens, but a free shuttle from downtown Saratoga is available.) Did your January move too quickly? Do you wish February could slow down a bit, the better to savor this celebratory span of New Year's traditions? There's still time, even at the close of the month, in Saratoga.

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