On Saturday, February 11, experience the sights and sounds of Chinatown during the community’s most exciting time of the year, the Chinese New Year Parade. Steeped in legends and stories, the parade has been an annual tradition for San Francisco since the days of the Gold Rush. The celebration and parade are always very crowded. To avoid being overwhelmed, here are my personal, well-tested, top 5 recommendations.
1. Ways To Celebrate The Year Of The Rooster
While most of the people attend just the parade, there are four other cool events scheduled to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Chinatown, San Francisco.
The Chinese Historical Society of America Museum, 10am-4pm, full day of family activities including live music & performances, exhibits, and more! San Francisco.
Chinatown Community Street Fair, 10am-4:30pm, San Francisco.
Chinese Culture Center Spring Festival is a free event held during the New Years Parade from 11am-2pm. Programming will coincide with the opening of Martial Spirit, the CCC's newest exhibition and will highlight martial arts as well as musical and dance performances by local artists. Performances will include a lion dance, various martial arts performances, dancing, and music.
Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt 4-8pm, San Francisco.
2. Explore Chinatown
There are a lot of cool places to explore in Chinatown. Some on my must-do list include a visit to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory on Ross Alley just off Grant. Don't miss some of the intriguing herb shops. My favorite is The Great China Herb Company at 857 Washington. Along Grant Avenue is Chinatown Kite Shop which sells a huge variety of kites. At 125 Waverly Place/Washington, look for a little yellow sign reading "Tin How Temple." Climb three flights of stairs to find the oldest Taoist/Buddhist temple in the United States, founded in 1852. Bonus; a sweeping view of Chinatown from the balcony.
The Chinese New Year Parade starts at 5:15pm at the corner of 2nd and Market Streets. It then weaves its way through Chinatown and ends at Jackson and Kearny Streets. The parade usually ends around 8pm. Here is a map of the full route.
4. Plan A Chinese Lunch
5. Other Chinese New Year Celebrations Around The Bay Area
1/25 San Francisco Public Library, Visitacion Valley Branch, Red Envelope Craft.
1/26 San Francisco Public Library, Sunset Branch, Chinese Papercutting.
1/26 San Francisco Public Library, Merced Branch, Red Envelope.
1/28 Chinese Lion Dancers, 11-11:30am, Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo.
1/28 San Francisco Public Library, 3-4:30pm, Celebrate Chinese New Year with The Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company, Presidio Branch.
1/28-29 Creative Family Fun: Lunar New Year Pellet Drums, 11am-4pm, Presidio Officers’ Club, San Francisco.
1/28-29 & 2/4-5 Lunar New Year Celebrations, 11am-3pm, celebrate the Year of the Rooster with traditional Chinese lion and folk dancing, and much more, San Francisco Zoo.
1/29 Chinese Brush Painting, 11am-12:15pm, ages 8-12, Celebrating the Year of the Rooster, Point Reyes Library.
1/29 Lunar New Year Celebration: Year of the Rooster, 10:30am-4pm, Roll in the Year of the Rooster with talented dancers and musicians at the Asian Art Museum’s annual Lunar New Year Celebration. Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.
1/29 Lunar New Year Celebration, food, music and dance. Children can practice black ink calligraphy and also create their own paper lanterns for the Year of the Rooster in the Art Studio, Habitot, Berkeley.
2/4 Lunar New Year Celebration, 12-4pm, traditional candy, lion dancers, martial arts and more, 4th Street, Berkeley.
2/4 Chinese New Year Concert and Imperial Dinner, San Francisco Symphony, Davies Hall.
2/4-5 Lunar New Year Celebration, 12-4pm, try your hand at traditional crafts, and enjoy displays and performances, Children's Discovery Museum, San Jose.
2/11 Chinese New Year Celebration and Banquet, 5pm, performances include the Chinese Dance School of San Francisco, a martial arts demonstration, traditional guzheng, and, of course, our amazing Lion Dancers, #MCCACNY San Rafael Community Center.
2/12 Lunar New Year Celebration and Other Asian Traditions: Year of the Rooster, 12-4:30pm, live performances and an array of Asian traditions in arts, crafts, food, demonstrations, and so much more, Oakland Museum.
2/16 Oliver Chin, author of the new children's book "Year of the Rooster", 4-4:30pm, meet local author as he shares his new picture book, The Year of the Rooster, the latest from his Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series, Larkspur Library.
2/19 Chinatown YMCA Run, 5K RUN / WALK or 10K RUN
2/20 Chinese New Year, 9am-4pm, lion dancers, observe professional calligraphers, sample delicious Chinese food and more all made possible through our partnership with Marin Chinese Cultural Association. Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito.
Know Before You Go:
- Chinatown is extremely crowded and driving can be very frustrating. If public transportation is not an option, I recommend parking at the public lot for the Hilton. Safe, convenient and prices are reasonable relative to other options in close proximity and leads you away from the crowd.
- Dress in layers and bring water.
- For sensitive ears, The Chinese New Year Celebration is really crowded and noisy. Expect a lot of loud drumming and fireworks.
Don’t miss one of San Francisco’s most treasured celebration, the Chinese New Year Parade. Enjoy the vibrant history that Chinatown offers and usher in the Year of the Rooster.