Chinese New Year
Beginning today, the dog days last a full year: We're saying goodbye to the year of the rooster and welcoming the year of the canine. Of course, Chinatown will host its traditional New Year's parade on H Street on Feb. 5. But if you're looking for something more interactive, head to Gaithersburg, where the Lakeforest Mall and the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center are presenting a week-long Year of the Dog celebration of their own.
Though yesterday's ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the event's official opening, the all-free festivities start today and continue through Feb. 5. The primary attractions are definitely on weekend days, when you can see live dragon and lion dances, martial arts showcases, folk dances and traditional music. Between shows, demonstrations will be offered on everything from Chinese painting and calligraphy to table tennis and wushu. The weekday offerings -- mostly art exhibits and cultural displays -- are comparatively sedate (case in point: an exhibit titled "Rice: More Than Just Food -- It's Our Culture.") Still, a 210-foot mural of the Great Wall of China by Bertrand Mao, a Chinese landscape painter who has lectured at the National Gallery of Art and the Sackler, is a can't-miss piece no matter what day you go.
All events take place at Lakeforest Mall (701 Russell Ave., Gaithersburg, 301-840-5840); performances and demonstrations are today, Saturday and Feb. 5, noon-6 p.m. For more information, contact the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center (16309 Comprint Cir., Gaithersburg, 240-631-1200,http:/