Your handy guide for celebrating Chinese New Year in San Francisco to the fullest!

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January 21, 2020

Chinese New Year 2020 Parade & Events

Chinese New Year brings with it a festive month of events, including the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade, the Chinese New Year Flower Fair, a street fair, and many other events, exhibits and experiences. The majority of these events, which are held throughout February, are free to the public and welcome families and people of all ages.

The Year of the Rat begins on Jan. 25, 2020 and is celebrated around the world in Asian communities. San Francisco has its own take on this festive occasion and there are many cultural events and festivities that represent the city's diversity. It all climaxes with the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade on the evening of Feb. 8. 

Community Events

There will be a Flower Market Fair along Grant Avenue, Jan. 18-19. Oranges, tangerines and other foods associated with abundance and happiness will overflow from grocers' bins. There is a basketball jamboree on Feb. 1. On parade weekend, there is a two-day Chinese Community Street Fair, Feb. 8-9, on Grant Avenue. On Mar. 1, there will be a 5K/10K Chinatown YMCA Chinese New Year Run. The route winds its way through Chinatown, North Beach, the Embarcadero and downtown.

Miss Chinatown USA Pageant

Each year, more than a dozen women from around the U.S. compete for the title of Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Tickets for the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. pageant on Feb. 1 start at $40 and the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. coronation ball is on Feb. 7.

Chinese New Year Parade

One of the grandest nighttime illuminated parades in the U.S., the parade started in the 1860s and has grown to be one of the largest celebrations of Asian culture in this hemisphere. Parade highlights include elaborate floats, lion dancers, folk dancers, costumed elementary school groups, marching bands, stilt walkers, Chinese acrobats and a 268-foot-long Golden Dragon. 

This year's parade will be held on Feb. 8 and will start on Second and Market streets. If this is your first parade, bleacher seats might be a good suggestion. Crowds are extremely dense along the parade route. If you opt for the standing room option, be sure to stake out your spot well before parade time. Arriving between 3:30 and 4 p.m. is recommended. Ear plugs are suggested for all ages; firecrackers are an integral part of the parade. Parking south of Market St. is usually easier; garages in Union Square will be impacted by crowds and street closures. Muni and BART are excellent options to get to and from the parade. And bring an umbrella. It will often rain on the parade, and it is considered good luck, so everyone takes it in stride. 

Chinese New Year Parade 2018

Cultural Activities

On Jan. 23, the California Academy of Sciences' weekly Nightlife event will delve into Lunar New Year traditions and give visitors the chance to meet and greet this year's lunar animal ambassador. Learn about the significance of Chinese tea cermonies and watch a powerful lion dance performance by the Jing Mo Athletic Association, a Chinatown-based martial arts performance troupe.


Given the popularity of Lunar New Year events in San Francisco, it’s no surprise that SF Beer Week includes a dim sum beer brunch on Feb. 8, featuring Fort Point Brew Company beer pairings at the Hong Kong Lounge (5322 Geary Blvd.).

Join the Asian Art Museum in ringing in the New Year on Feb. 9 with talented dancers, musicians and storytellers.

Experience the vibrant traditions of Chinese New Year at Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum on Monday, Feb. 17. Celebrating the magic of the Year of the Rat with a full schedule of programming and performances, the day includes lion dancers, a Kung Fu demonstration, lantern making, calligraphy and more.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rat with the San Francisco Symphony at their concert and post-concert dinner on Feb. 1. This family event draws on both ancient and contemporary Asian traditions. Enjoy a pre-concert festival reception offering family-friendly entertainment and activities, including arts and crafts, lion dancing and more. The concert at 5 p.m. is followed by a glamorous dinner at 7 p.m. Dinner packages can be purchased separately.

Admission to the Chinese Historical Society of America at 965 Clay St. will be free all day for their annual celebration on Feb. 8. There will be a full day of family activities, including live music and performances, with more to be announced.

On view at San Francisco's Chinese Culture Center (Feb. 7 - May 7), is a new immersive sound and light installation, "Homing," created by Taiwanese artist Hung Tzu Ni. During Hung's artist residency in San Francisco, she explored the neighborhood and was inspired by the sights and sounds of San Francisco's Chinatown. This is Hung's first exhibition in the U.S. and is also the Chinese Cultural Center's first solo exhibition of a sound artist.

Stop by our Chinatown Visitor Center for more information on what's happening in the neighborhood.


Best Areas to Stay Near the Chinese New Year Parade


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