Lunar New Year, strongly tied to the annual Chinese New Year celebration, offers countless ways to rejoice all over the Bay Area. Welcome the Year of the Pig with traditional lion dances, crafts and fortune cookies as you join in one of these festive celebrations and parades. Traditional arts like origami and calligraphy are demonstrated and kids can make festive paper lanterns to take home. Gung hay fat choy!
photo: Paul via Flickr
Chinese New Year’s Day Parade, Chinatown
Considered one of the best of its kind in the U.S., San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade comprises colorful floats, dazzling costumes, performers ranging from stilt walker to lion dancers and the freshly crowned Miss Chinatown USA. Another highlight is always the famous Golden Dragon, “Gum Lung”, requiring about 180 handlers for its 268-foot length. It’s all enlivened by drummers and the endless popping of firecrackers. Parade starts on Market Street (by Second), up Geary to Powell, then down Post and through Chinatown on Kearney, ending at Columbus (and Jackson).
Chinese New Year Flower Market Fair, Chinatown
The lively fun here will include more than 100 vendors showcasing plants, fruits, flowers, candy and other delights—plus performances that include drummers, dancers and other talented show-stoppers. There’s even a mini-parade on Saturday kicking off at 10:30 a.m. that provides a sneak peek of the huge procession to come later in the month. It’s slated to begin at St. Mary’s Square and follows the original parade route down Grant Avenue—ending at the Flower Market Fair’s main stage where the Official Ribbon Cutting ceremony takes place.
When: Feb. 2-3
Grant Ave. from Clay to Broadway;
Pacific Ave. from Kearney to Stockton;
Jackson St. from Kearny to Stockton
Lunar New Year Celebration, Asian Art Museum
Welcome the Year of the Pig with everything from acrobatics and art to drumming and storytelling. Make sure you swing by the brand-new exhibit, Kimono Refashioned, which opens Feb. 8.
When: Feb. 17, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Asian Art Museum
200 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA
Lunar New Year Celebration, San Francisco Zoo
Zoom to the zoo for plenty of fun, including daily traditional Chinese lion and folk dance performances at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Visitors can also partake in a Zodiac Scavenger Hunt through the Zoo to uncover neat facts about the animals populating the Chinese calendar. Or, drop by Wolf Canyon to see the wolves howling in celebration over the Year of the Pig! Bonus: guests born in the year of the pig get in free!
When: Feb. 9-10
San Francisco Zoo
San Francisco, CA
Chinese New Year Concert, San Francisco Symphony
This family-friendly celebration takes inspiration on both age-old and modern traditions to embrace Lunar New Year and the Year of the Pig. Enjoy the Festival Reception’s host of activities followed by a performance of Eastern and Western repertoire by the Symphony. Guests can also buy a ticket to a lively and authentic Imperial Dinner to extend the excitement following the concert.
When: Feb. 16, 5 and 7 p.m.
San Francisco Symphony
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA
photo: Oakland Museum of California
Lunar New Year Celebration, Oakland Museum of California
Celebrate with spectacular cultural performances, demonstrations, traditional and contemporary music and dance, delicious Asian-inspired food at the on-site Blue Oak Cafe, and much more. Explore connections between the diverse Asian cultures represented in California, including Chinese, Tibetan, Korean, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Japanese and more. Enjoy spectacular lion and dragon dances, Chinese acrobatics by local favorite Red Panda Acrobats and a magic show by Perry Yan the Magician. Hear author Olive Chin’s story about the Year of the Pig and watch K-pop dance performances and Vietnamese martial arts demonstrations.
When: Feb. 10, noon–4:30 p.m.
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak St.
Lunar New Year Festival, Oakland Asian Cultural Center
The Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) is partnering with the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce’s Lunar New Year celebration for a complimentary indoor-outdoor jamboree for all ages to hail the Year of the Pig. Live performances, interactive arts and crafts and a variety of vendors are all on the agenda.
When: Feb. 10, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Oakland Asian Cultural Center
388 Ninth Street, Ste. 290
Lunar New Year Festival, Fourth Street, Berkeley
This festive afternoon will show off martial arts demonstrations, lion dances, treats from several stores, a parade and kiddy craft tables. This event is dedicated to the life and memory of Winnie Yu, who began the beloved festival 11 years ago.
When: Feb. 16, noon-4 p.m.
Fourth Street and Delaware
Lunar New Year Celebration at Fairyland
Come for some extra fun including The Puppet Company’s performance of Mae Lin & The Magic Brush and lunar new year crafts. You can learn about this year’s honorary animal, the pig, as well as other animal friends.
When: Feb. 2-3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
699 Bellvue Ave.
photo: Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
Lunar New Year Celebration, Redwood City
Join in this celebration of the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Pig! The free fun will include lion dancers, martial artists, taiko drummers and other live performances, plus and arts and crafts.
When: Feb. 9, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Redwood City Courthouse Square
2200 Broadway St.
Redwood City, Ca
Lunar New Year Celebration, Children’s Discovery Museum, San Jose
This is a chance to partake in some traditionally Asian celebrations of the Lunar New Year! Activities will include dragon dances, brush painting, paper folding and calligraphy demonstrations.
When: Feb. 2, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Feb. 3, noon–5 p.m.
Children’s Discovery Museum
180 Woz Way
San Jose, Ca
Lunar New Year Crafts and Stories, San Jose Libraries
Celebrate Lunar New Year with a story, crafts and fun as we welcome the Year of the Pig. For ages 3 and up.
When: Throughout February
See website for participating libraries, dates and times.
San Jose, CA
Free Community Day: Lunar New Year, San Jose Museum of Art
This special event aims to put a modern spin on ancient Chinese New Year traditions. Come embrace the Year of the Pig with cultural demonstrations, hands-on art projects and lively entertainment. This contemporary celebration honors Lunar New Year traditions commemorated around the globe and here in San Jose.
When: Feb. 16, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
San Jose Museum of Art
110 S. Market St.
San Jose, CA
Lunar New Year Celebration at Santana Row
Enjoy the exciting drumbeats and crashing cymbals of the Dragon and Lion dances, plus other fascinating cultural performances on a large stage in Santana Row Park (across from Left Bank Brasserie). Stroll through Santana Row shops and restaurants and enjoy in-store events, trunk shows, discounts and more in honor of Lunar New Year. Make sure to pick up a red envelope in select shops from 1-3 p.m. with merchant incentives and a chance to win a $1,000 Santana Row gift card!
When: Feb. 23, 1-3 p.m.
Santana Row Park
San Jose, CA
photo: San Jose Libraries
Lunar New Year Festival, Bay Area Discovery Museum
The Bay Area Discovery Museum is welcoming the Year of the Pig with a loaded slate of fun activities and entertainment. Included in the agenda are a Kung Fu performance, lion dancers, master calligraphers on view and even lantern making in BADM’s Fab Lab.
When: Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
557 McReynolds Rd.
Make It a Staycation
If you are looking to spend some time in San Francisco to check out the Lunar New Year festivities, book a long weekend at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square or Parc 55 San Francisco—A Hilton Hotel. Both are celebrating the Lunar New Year with special long weekender packages so that guests of the city can enjoy a leisurely excursion that includes a full day at the Asian Art Museum as well as visiting some of the great sites of San Francisco, including nearby Chinatown. The packages include a third night at 50% off as well as discounted admission to the Asian Art Museum’s Kimono Refashioned exhibit.
—Kate Loweth, Zach Chouteau & Bonggamom