Lunar New Year begins on Friday, February 16th and there are family-friendly celebrations of the Year of the Dog all over the city throughout the month. Immerse your pups in Chinese culture at a variety of local festivals and events from downtown’s Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District (Chinatown) to Disneyland! From lion dancing, colorful costumes and decorations and delicious Asian food, to Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, here’s the scoop on where to ring in the Chinese New Year, San Diego style.

lunar-new-yearphoto: Lunar New Year Festival

What is Year of the Dog?
The Chinese zodiac relates each year to an animal, for a cycle of 12 years. Chinese New Year is February 16, 2018, which marks the beginning of Year of the Dog. People born in Year of the Dog appropriately enough are said to possess the amazing traits of man’s best friend: loyalty, friendliness, faithfulness, honesty and being smart and straightforward. (2006 was the last Year of the Dog in the event you want to celebrate your 12 year-old kiddo)!

photo: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

Disney California Adventure Park
You’ll find spectacular, festive celebrations of the Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure Park from Jan. 26th -Feb. 18th. Dive into Asian culture through inspired cuisine from Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures and a special Lunar New Year menu at Paradise Garden Grill. The Park will also be filled with multicultural performances, gorgeous decor and themed merchandise. Don’t miss Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, which is a delightful, vibrant parade that celebrates family and friendship. Let the fun continue with the “Hurry Home Lunar New Year Celebration“: a nighttime water show at Paradise Bay that takes place before “World of Color.” This show tells the tale of a little lantern’s quest to reunite with her family for the annual celebration of good luck and fortune.

Additionally, there will be live, daily performances by authentic musicians and areas for Park guests to do arts and crafts with local artisans. Be sure to add your own wish for a wonderful future to the Lucky Wishing Wall and to get a special souvenir that travelled from Shanghai Disney Resort such as traditional red envelopes for gift-giving, Mickey Mouse plush, Minnie Mouse snow globes and a limited-edition pin.

photo: Lunar New Year Tet Festival

Lunar New Year Festival
Kick-off the festivities at the Lunar New Year Festival happening from Feb 9-11. This pan-Asian festival costs $6 for adults and $4 for kids. There is free admission for anyone dressed in a complete military uniform and for those born in the Year of the Dog (bring ID). This festival at SDCCU Stadium includes 16 carnival rides, games, contests and live entertainment and food from all over Asia is available for guests to enjoy. There will also be a giveaway of 30,000 zodiac charms while supplies last.

SDCCU Stadium
49 Friars Rd.
San Diego, Ca 92108

Tet Festivalphoto: Vietnamese American Youth Alliance of San Diego 

San Diego Tet Festival
Celebrate the Year of the Dog at the San Diego Tet Festival. The 3-day celebration that takes place Feb. 16-18 features children’s games and activities, games, food and live entertainment, including A-list Vietnamese singers and performers, lion dancing, firecrackers and the Miss Vietnam of San Diego pageant, Step-Up Dance and Golden Voice. There will also be a beer garden, full carnival rides, a petting zoo, a new cultural village and food vendors with a variety of foods from cultures worldwide.

Mira Mesa Community Park
8575 New Salem St.
San Diego, Ca 92126

photo: CCBA

San Diego Chinese New Year Fair
Celebrate the Year of the Dog at the Chinese New Year Fair on Feb. 24th & 25th from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. both days. This free, family-friendly two-day event showcases exciting performances, Asian art and culture, an array of delicious Chinese and Asian food and much more. The Fair is the largest event in San Diego County to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. There will be food and commercial booths, continuous live performances on stage, lion and dragon dancers, an Asian Story Theater, cultural displays, and educational crafts at the children’s area.

Third Ave. and J St. Downtown
San Diego, Ca 92101

Barnard Community Chinese New Year Celebration
This Mandarin Chinese Magnet elementary school hosts their annual community festival on Feb. 10 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Enjoy live performances, competitions, food and more! Purchase wristbands: $10 first kid, $5 each additional for unlimited carnival games and activities. All proceeds go to Barnard PTA and the students at Barnard.

2445 Fogg St.
San Diego, Ca 92109

photo: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year at Home
There are many ways your family can celebrate the Chinese New Year. You can start by decorating your home. Add a splash of good-luck red and gold to your kiddo’s room with red lanterns, hanging firecrackers and other festive decorations. Party City stores around San Diego and elsewhere have Chinese New Year decorations. For decorations and even costumes that are the real deal, try an Asian import or grocery store, such as 99 Ranch Market. Don’t forget to search the library for books about Chinese New Year, that you can read together at home. The Internet also has free printables that kids can color while learning more about this important holiday.

Another easy decoration involves an anti-oxidant rich, kid-friendly fruit. Citrus trees of all sizes appear in the doorways of homes and offices during Lunar New Year. If a real tree is out of the question, pile oranges or tangerines high in a bowl, as they are thought to bring good fortune and health in the new year. Better yet, make it a fun project for the kids. Have them eat one a day for 15 days, the duration of Chinese New Year celebrations.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at one of San Diego’s best dim sum restaurants. Here are our favorite family-friendly dim sum spots.

A major part of Lunar New Year celebrations is cleaning the house from top to bottom in order to sweep away bad luck from the prior year and make room for good tidings. Explain this to the kids– and just maybe, they’ll clean their rooms!


Does your family have any Lunar New Year traditions? How will you be celebrating the Year of the Dog? 

––Leah R. Singer & Beth Shea


Chopsticks Required: Yum Yum Dim Sum