Lunar New Year is a sacred time for many Asian cultures who measure years according to the cycles of the moon phases as opposed to our Earth’s revolution around the sun. This year, February 16 is the day when we turn over new leaves of good fortune with our families by cleaning the house (fun!), sweeping away the dregs of the past, joyfully gifting vibrant red envelopes, and enjoying a hearty meal. So read on for the best ways to celebrate the Year of the Dog across the west coast, from Los Angeles to Seattle to San Francisco.
Chinese New Year in San Francisco is one of the largest celebrations in the world, complete with fairs, a breathtaking parade, and lots of delicious food. Here’s everything you need to know to welcome the Year of the Dog.
Flower Market Fair
The Flower Market Fair takes place the weekend before the Lunar New Year so that shoppers can enjoy a festive atmosphere with traditional dance, music, art, and cultural displays. Live blooming plants symbolize rebirth and new growth, so having them in the home for the New Year is a must. Hours run long, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to pick up a plant February 10 or 11.
Asian Art Museum Lunar New Year Event
On February 18 The Red Panda Acrobats perform circus arts and tumbling, and the day will end with Lion Dance Drumming to scare away evil spirits so that the New Year starts off with good luck and fortune.
Miss Chinatown USA Pageant
Watch women from around the United States compete for the title of Miss Chinatown USA and a chance to represent the Chinese community and promote Chinese culture and heritage on February 22.
Chinese New Year Parade
SF’s Chinese New Year Parade, the largest parade celebrating the Lunar New Year outside of Asia, has been a San Francisco tradition since the 1860s and was named one of the world’s top ten parades. The parade starts at 5:15pm on February 24 and even though the parade route is quite long, it’s a good idea to arrive 90 minutes early to stake out a clear view of the beautiful floats, stilt walkers, Chinese acrobats, lion dancers, and the spectacular 268-foot-long Golden Dragon, which is propelled by a team of more than 100 operators. If you don’t want to fight for a spot, there are bleacher seats available for $35. Bring earplugs, as there will be drums, gongs, and over 600,000 firecrackers; loud noises are meant to drive away evil spirits.
Chinatown Community Street Fair
This two-day fair on February 24 & 25 has over 120 booths and concession stands, as well as activities for all ages. It’s not just about shopping and eating though; there will also be kite and lantern making, Chinese folk dancing, puppet shows, lion dancing, drumming, acrobats, and more.
San Francisco Symphony Chinese New Year Concert
Celebrate the Year of the Dog at this family-friendly event that draws on ancient and contemporary traditions. The performance starts at 3pm on February 24, but arrive at 2pm so as not to miss the lion dancing, lucky red envelopes, tea bars, sweet bites, and more.
Chinese New Year Run 10K/5K
Bringing up the rear of the calendar on March 4, this scenic run to benefit the Chinatown YMCA winds its way through Chinatown, North Beach, the Embarcadero, and the Financial District. There will also be an award for Best Dressed Dog.
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company
Stop by this tiny shop tucked on Ross Alley between Jackson and Washington Streets to see fortune cookies being made, as well as to buy different shapes and flavors. For $1 you can write your own fortune and have it put inside a fresh cookie. You’re responsible for your own winning lottery numbers, though.
Good Mong Kok Bakery
Order at the counter of this authentic and affordable dim sum spot and enjoy your delicious goodies as you walk around Chinatown. Prices average around $2 for three pieces, so there’s no excuse not to try one of everything.
This culinary and cultural destination opened in 2017, but is already a hot spot thanks to its selection of bars, restaurants, and shopping, which range from affordable to very, very expensive (but worth it). – Thrillist (02.01.18)