Gung Hay Fat Choy!  This weekend kicks off the Chinese New Year, and San Francisco Kids have multiple opportunities to enjoy our city’s cultural extravaganza.  The SF Public Library will continue to host Lion Dancers at several locations, and MoCHA in Oakland has special programming in its honor.  There’s also a mini-parade in Chinatown.  If you’re waiting for the big parade on February 13, and want something else to do, Habitot in Berkeley is offering a Parent’s Night Out on Friday, and a Snowplay day on Sunday.  Finally, if you have a young girl athlete you might enjoy checking out the Girls in Sports free recreation day at Kezar Stadium on Saturday.

San Francisco

Chinese New Year mini-parade and Flower Fair Opening Day.
Here is a smaller, and quieter version of the legendary San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade–a much easier venue for small children.  This parade marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year festivities, and will include lion dancers, giant walking puppets, costumed stilt walkers, drummers and dancers. It begins at historic St. Mary’s Square, and ends at the Flower Fair.  If you miss the parade, don’t miss the Flower Fair!  They will have numerous flowering fruit trees for sale, among other more exotic plants, as well as a main stage with lion dancers and other performers. Parade: Sat. 10:30 a.m. All ages. Free. Flower Fair: Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m.. Sun. 9 a.m.-6.p.m. All Ages. Free. Event Details.

Make a Lion’s Head Puppet
If crowds are not your thing, celebrate the Chinese New Year by dropping in at the Randall Museum this Saturday to make a Chinese Lion’s Head puppet.  The Randall Museum is a fantastic blend of museum and activity center that includes a permanent live animal exhibit, a woodshop, art and ceramics studios, a lapidary workshop, a 188-seat theater, a greenhouse with gardens, and an extensive model train exhibit.You will surely find something to like here. Sat. 1-4 p.m. $6/child, $10 for an adult and child together. Kids under 8 must be with a paying, participating adult. The last sign-ups are taken at 3:30. Event Details.

East Bay

International Children’s Film Festival
Billed as A Playdate for the Imagination, this annual film festival features a combination of shorts and feature films chosen especially for families, as well as two workshops in stop motion animation and movement capture, for kids 5+, (pre-registration required). Through the festival, children gain visual exposure to varied cultures, traditions, lives and experiences. They also have a snack bar. Films shown before 2 p.m. are for all ages, those shown after 2 p.m. are for ages 6 and up. Sat.-Sun. 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. $10-$20 for films, and $20-$35 for workshops. Event Details.

Leopard Shark Feeding Frenzy
Assist the staff during the daily feeding of our shark tank. Learn about the surfperch, lined shore crabs, anemones and barnacles that inhabit the tank along with our resident leopard sharks. New animals are added all the time! Sun. 2-3 p.m. For all ages. Free. Event Details.


Ferdinand the Bull at the Palo Alto Children’s Theater.
Infused with Spanish language, music and dance this children’s musical is based on the classic book The Story of Ferdinand, an easy-going, flower-loving kind of bull, whose best friend, the star-struck pig Cochina, takes him to Madrid. Ferdy meets the unhappy Danilo, a boy torn between his own dreams and his father’s desires. Their dramatic encounter has a happy ending that reveals the importance of being true to one’s self. Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. $8-$10. Event Details.

Low Tide Walk.
Take to the tidepools for a treasure hunt of nature’s beautiful intertidal secrets with the Marine Science Institute as your guide. Spend the afternoon taking advantage of the low tide to reach the outer edges of Pillar Point, and then slowly retreat to shore.  Who know what you might find–maybe crabs, sea stars, eels and octopus?! This is a great all-ages, family event. Sat. 12-3 p.m.  $10 for MSI members, $20 for non-members. Space tends to fill up, so RSVP soon. Event Details.


Headlands Institute: Family Hike and Campfire
Calling all parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and siblings! Enjoy the great outdoors after the sun sets with a fun-filled family friendly hike and campfire. Gather ’round the campfire for quality time with your favorite friends and family, sing songs, and get silly with your siblings as you roast S’mores by moonlight. Please arrive promptly at the beginning of the program.  January 29 5:30-8pm. $10/person, pre-registration required.  All ages are welcome. Baby carriers are suggested for children 4 and under. Event Details.

Sing-along Wizard of Oz at the Lark Theater.
While it is not the glorious extravaganza of the Sing-Along in the Castro, the Lark Theater Sing-Along is plenty of good fun, and will give you and your kids a chance to work on your chops if you’re considering heading to the city to sing with the bid kids. There really is no better way to watch the Wizard of Oz than on a big screen, with subtitles below, belting out your favorite tunes.   The Lark is a great family friendly venue.  (Keep in mind that the witches and winged monkeys can be scary to some kids.) Sat.-Sun. 2:30 p.m. $10. All ages. Event Details.

–Lianna McSwain