Chinese New Year

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January 5, 2017
Chinese New Year. Photo by Knights Light Photography.

Things to Do in San Francisco This January

Time for resolutions and checking  some things off your bucket list. There will be plenty to do in January, including an anniversary celebration at PIER 39, the return of SF Restaurant Week and the arrival of the Chinese New Year of the Rooster on Jan. 28, 2017. Two new years in one month!  

Thrills for the New Year

 “Escape Alcatraz,” a thrilling new drop ride and show at The San Francisco Dungeon, is just the ticket to kick off the New Year with a boost of adrenaline. The finale to the 60-minute Dungeon experience, “Escape Alcatraz” is a heart-pounding ride simulating a jump from the infamous island prison into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay. As guests depart the popular “Ghosts of Alcatraz” scene, they are marched through a dim corridor into a stark processing room. Realistic prison props surround them as they’re fingerprinted and processed and eventually shuffled out to a desolate prison yard where they will join an escape attempt … and the eventual drop into San Francisco Bay — the latter captured on camera, if you’re inclined to purchase a souvenir photo.

Exhibitions Closing

Several exhibitions are closing this month, so mark your calendars. The Walt Disney Family Museum bids farewell to “Wish Upon a Star: The Art of Pinocchio” on Jan. 9, 2017. “The Rama Epic” closes Jan. 15, 2017 at the Asian Art Museum. “Space Program: Europa,” which has been drawing would-be astronauts to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts powers down on Jan. 15, 2017. At SFMOMA, “Bruce Conner: It’s All True” ends on Jan. 22, 2017. There’s still some time to check out the “Curious Contraptions” at the Exploratorium through Jan. 29,2017. “The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of 17th-Century France” at the Legion of Honor also closes on Jan. 29, 2017.

And Exhibitions Opening

“Jim Marshall: Summer of Love,” features 80 works by the iconic photographer taken during his time in San Francisco in the 1960s. Opening on Jan. 26, 2017 at City Hall, Marshall’s work captures the Haight-Ashbury scene and the cultural impact of the Summer of Love. SFMOMA will present the West Coast debut of the “diane arbus: in the beginning,” Jan. 21-April 30, 2017, which captures the first seven years of her photographic career. Making its West Coast debut, the exhibition includes 100 photographs, many on view for the first time. If you’d happily wear a Fran Drescher Fan Club knit cap, “Cary Leibowitz: Museum Show” is your go-to exhibition this season. Contemporary artist Cary Leibowitz creates comic, text -based works with an emphatically gay and often Jewish perspective. Nearly 350 original artworks will be on display at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Jan. 26-June 25, 2017.

Masters of the New

The eighth annual Festival of Experimental Dance + Performance will celebrate with a wide variety of artistic performances in the Bay Area for three weeks, Jan. 2-22, 2017. “Fresh 2017” gathers more than 50 local, national and international dance, music and performance makers from masters to upstarts who will perform at Joe Goode Annex and other locations. Jan. 27-28, 2017 brings Isadora Duncan Dance Award-winning choreographer Gregory Dawson and his contemporary ballet company dawsondancesf to the stage of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The world premiere of “les verities” aspires to evoke a deep truth about legacy, artistry and style.

FOG Design+Art

Fort Mason Center is the home for one of the region’s premier art fairs, Jan. 12-15, 2017. The fair will kick off with a preview gala on Jan. 11, 2017 benefitting SFMOMA. Forty-five exhibitors from the worlds of design and 20th century art will have stands at the show. Among the galleries making their FOG Design+Art debut are Gagosian and Dominique Levy.

Comic Relief: SF Sketchfest

SF Sketchfest returns to grinning faces all over the city. Billed as “the San Francisco Comedy Festival,” Sketchfest is in its 16th year. Offering more than two weeks of comedy, improv, skits and films, Sketchfest runs Jan. 12-29, 2017. This year's festival features everything from a double bill starring Bill Irwin and Bill Frisell, with guests Geoff Hoyle and Kenny Wollesen; four shows at the newly opened Curran, including "Startalk Live" with Bill Nye the Science Guy; to an SF Sketchfest Comedy Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences. Many shows sell out quickly, so buy tickets now.

50th Anniversary Human Be-In

The tribes are gathering for the 50th anniversary of the Human Be-In which occurred in Golden Gate Park on Jan. 14, 1967. Featuring visionary speakers, live music and DJs, poetry readings, virtual reality demonstrations and a mixed reality showcase, video messages of peace, exhibits, performances, and historic films the 50th anniversary celebration of the Human Be-In is slated for Jan. 14, 2017 at the Grand Theater, 2665 Mission St. Featuring Wavy Gravy as MC and Be-In clown, speakers include Dennis McNally, Ann Cohen, Martine Bowen Algier, Jerry Cimino, Avon Mattison, Mikey Seigel, Adil Kassam, Michael Gosney, and Bill McCarthy. Live music will be provided by the 1960s All-Star Band in a once in a lifetime Jam for Peace, featuring members of Big Brother & The Holding Company, Country Joe & The Fish, The Youngbloods, Sons of Champlin and more. There will also be a performance from House of Hamsa, a fusion band of world beat and electronica. Andreilien and DJ Feral will provide next generation dance music. The Human Be-In 50th Anniversary will also showcase the lastest technological developments that can help foster community and improve our lives. New tools, such as consciousness hacking and mixed reality, will be explored.

San Francisco Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Join thousands of celebrants in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on, Jan. 16, 2017 for a full day of events, festivals and programs honoring “Justice in the Beloved Community,” the theme of this year’s celebration. A number of community events are scheduled from Jan. 13-16, 2017 including a Black Comix Arts Festival and the Liberation Film Festival, Jan. 15-16, 2017. The Museum of the African Diaspora will offer free admission on Jan. 16 as well as programs throughout the day including special exhibitions. Members of Broun Fellinis (whose music is included in one of MoAD’s current exhibits, “Where Is Here,”) will be leading jazz workshops and music demonstrations in the MoAD Salon throughout the day. Many public transit agencies in the Bay Area are also offering free transportation to and from celebration events on Jan. 16.

San Francisco Restaurant Week Returns

From Jan. 18-29, 2017 San Francisco Restaurant Week returns with 12 days of celebrating the top toques and tastes in the U.S. The Golden Gate Restaurant Association has signed up nearly 130 of the city’s best restaurants who are offering $15 and $25 two-plus course lunch menus, and $40 and $65 three-plus course dinner menus. Reservations are available now for an array of restaurants in more than two dozen neighborhoods from Bayview to West Portal.

Noir City 15: The Big Knockover

The San Francisco Film Noir Festival returns to the Castro Theatre, Jan. 20-29, 2017, with a program of 24 “criminal capers from around the globe” in “The Big Knockover,” a veritable history of the heist film including classics such as “The Asphalt Jungle.”

Sea Lions

From Jan. 20-22, 2017 PIER 39 celebrates the 27th anniversary of the sea lions’ arrival. The boisterous, barking pinnipeds began arriving in droves shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake hit San Francisco in October 1989. With a protected environment and plentiful supply of food from San Francisco Bay, the sea lions made PIER 39’s K-Dock their new home. Celebrate these playful mammals with Sea Lion Encounter Walking Tours, treats, special discounts and more. This is also when PIER 39 kicks off its 39th anniversary. Every Friday for 39 weeks there will be something special for everyone to enjoy.

Something to Crow About

The rooster will rule the roost beginning Jan. 28, 2017, when the lunar new year 4715 arrives. Word on the street is this year promises to be a good one for joint ventures, but (no surprise here) those in public life may hear more criticism than usual. Feathers will fly! Festivities marking the advent of the Year of the Rooster span Jan. 21-Feb. 12, 2017. The major event, of course, is the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year parade on Saturday, Feb. 11. Come rain or stars it starts at 5:15 p.m. and was named one of the top 10 parades in the world by the International Festivals and Events Association. Bleacher seats are available for $30.

Historic Curran Reopens

Under the curation of eight-time Tony Award-winner Carole Shorenstein Hays, the Curran will reopen its 1,600 seat venue in January 2017 with the groundbreaking musical “Fun Home” on Jan. 25, 2017. Other productions recently announced include “Eclipsed,” making its West Coast premiere engagement in March, and immersive theater experience “The Encounter,” which uses 3D audio technology, opening in April.

Let’s Make a Plan

Jan. 31, 2017 is National Plan for Vacation Day. Are you one of those American workers who leaves vacation days unused? Did you know that planning synchs with greater happiness across nine categories including financial stability and professional success? We’ve got a couple of tips for you: confirm your time off benefits; review your calendar for the year (especially paid holidays, family events and other important dates); and check with your coworkers – are you thinking of getting away when workload is especially heavy and/or a coworker will be out? Homework complete? Then start working on your bucket list (here are a few suggestions from the folks in Monterey County along with a Bucket List sweepstakes opportunity) and start making your dream vacation a reality.

Portrait Photo by Shawn Clover / CC BY-NC


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