The Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is one of the most iconic events on San Francisco’s cultural calendar. The festival lasts for about 2 weeks following the first day of the Chinese New Year (February 1), and it’s been happening since 1851, making it the oldest and largest celebration of this kind outside of Asia.
The beloved parade will happen on Market, Geary, Post, and Kearny Streets from 5:15pm-8pm on February 19. It’s been named one of the top ten parades in the world by the International Festivals & Events Association, and is the biggest Lunar New Year parade outside of Asia. This year, over 100 units will take part, with elaborate floats and costumes, firecrackers, and the newly crowned Miss Chinatown USA. You can get a good view all along the parade route, but there are bleacher seats available costing between $38-65.
This year’s parade will feature a brand-new 288-foot Golden Dragon (“Gum Lung”), carried by a team of 180 people. Several Lucasfilm-recognized STAR WARS™ costuming organizations will also take part this year. The parade will close with a spectacular 3-minute fireworks finale.
Don’t forget to check out the Community Street Fair (Feb 19-20), with over 120 booths set up on Washington, Jackson, Pacific, and Grant Avenues. Purchase excellent artisanal products and enjoy Chinese folk dancing, opera, drumming, and more. You can also snap a photo with artifacts from the parade including the giant puppets and dragon. See it February 19 from 10am-4:30pm and February 20 from 9am-5pm.
Do your best to take public transportation to the parade, as thousands of people are expected to show up and street parking will be limited. The festival is sponsored by Alaska Airlines and hosted by the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
Read on for more ways to celebrate the Year of the Tiger in San Francisco!
1. Look for these 6 beautiful tiger sculptures
The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco has debuted six beautifully painted, life-size tiger statues to ring in the Year of the Tiger on February 1. The statues, which were painted by local artists, have been placed at strategic points around the city and are available for the public to see until February 19. Visitors who manage to snap a pic of the tigers can enter a photo contest and win prizes! After the display period ends, the statues will be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting local community nonprofits.
2. Join the Chinatown YMCA’s New Year Run
The Chinatown YMCA will host their 44th annual Chinese New Year Run/Walk, which has both 5K and 10K options. Participants can join for the in-person event on March 6, or complete a virtual run between February 20 and March 13. The basic race package will include registration, a race t-shirt, a finisher medal, and a goodie bag. Those born in the Year of the Tiger will receive an exclusive pin!
3. Enjoy some incredible Chinese food
Eight Tables by George Chen: An award-winning luxury home meal kit featuring the finest seasonal options including silken tofu, tea-soaked crab, hand-cut noodles, chestnut tart, and more.
R & G Lounge: Fresh, high quality Chinese cuisine including specialties such as braised abalone and sea cucumber, Chinese sausages with sticky rice, Dungeness crab, and more.
Koi Palace Poon Choi: This amazing Chinese restaurant in Daly City is offering traditional Chinese New Year treasure pots, which come with abalone, fish maw, sea cucumber, roasted duck, concubine chicken, and much more.
Palette Tea House: This amazing spot in Ghirardelli Square is known for dim sum, seafood and cocktails. Their Chinese New Year menu has jellyfish salad, pork potstickers, rose petal shrimp dumplings, lobster and seafood crispy noodles, a Mandarin chocolate cake, and more.
Yank Sing: Enjoy a dazzling lunar new year platter including a variety of delicious dumplings, potstickers, longevity noodles, phoenix tail prawns, barbecue pork, and sesame balls.
Empress by Boon: Try their special New Year menu which includes crab roe xiaolongbao, red bean soup sticky rice, grilled Chilean sea bass, and more.
4. Ring in the new year with these Chinese customs and traditions
The way you celebrate during these days is said to affect your luck for the rest of the year! Be sure to follow these customs to bring you good fortune in the Year of the Tiger:
- Thoroughly clean the house and buy new clothes for the family.
- Stock up on lucky fruits including oranges, grapes, plums, and kumquats. Lucky flowers include orchids, peonies, and peach blossoms.
- Put up “spring couplets” on either side of your door to express good wishes for the new year.
- On the big day (February 1st, 2022), set off firecrackers to drive away bad spirits and bad luck You can also wear your new clothes, give the children money in red envelopes, and give a new year’s greeting to others: the Cantonese “gong xi fa cai” (pronounced gung hey fat choi) or the Mandarin “xin nian kuai le” (pronounced shin nee-an kwai le)
- After you ring in the Year of the Tiger, don’t clean your house for 2 days so as to preserve the luck you’ve accumulated. Also, don’t eat porridge, break dishes, wear black or white clothing, or borrow and lend money. All of these activities bring bad luck to your new year!
Featured image: Kobby Dagan via Shutterstock