Chinese New Year Parade
Check out the Annual Parade in San Francisco’s Chinatown Each February
In the 1850’s, Chinese immigrants who moved to California for jobs during the Gold Rush began moving to what is now San Francisco’s famous Chinatown. Soon thereafter, they began celebrating the Lunar New Year by organizing an elaborate parade to showcase their heritage in their new home. Since then, the annual Chinese New Year Parade has become one of the most popular and spectacular events in the city, with more than one hundred floats, beautiful hand-made costumes, fierce lions and dragons animated by dozens of individuals and teams, lanterns, music and, of course, fireworks.
Each February, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the parade route along Market, Geary, Post and Kearny Streets on Chinatown’s border to watch this remarkable event and celebrate the New Year in this unique San Francisco tradition. It has become the single-largest celebration of Asian culture outside Asia and if you are visiting the Bay Area or are entertaining guests from out of town, this is definitely worth experiencing! If you’d like to check out this parade (and you really should) here are some helpful things to know:
- Dress warmly. The parade typically starts around 6 p.m. and lasts for at least two hours.
- There are bleachers along the parade route and the best vantage point for watching the parade depends on who you talk to, how long you want to linger in Chinatown after the parade, proximity to your favorite Chinatown restaurant for a bite after the parade (reservations strongly recommended, if available,) and other factors. Longtime parade-watchers say that the most popular spots are long gone by 4:30, so plan accordingly.
- There are wheelchair and handicapped-accessible seating locations on Post Street between Grant and Kearny and Kearny Street between Sacramento and California Streets.
- Bleacher seats are available by reservation but are a bit pricy at $30 each. These are only available at the official parade site at http://www.chineseparade.com.
- Attendees are strongly encouraged to take public transportation to the parade. Parking in Chinatown is extremely limited under the best circumstances and your chances of finding any space within moderate walking distance is quite slim.
- Your best bet is to stake out a good spot on the parade route early in front of a business that sells hot beverages. You’ll be thankful you did!
The annual Chinatown New Year Parade is a joyous, raucous and beautiful riot of sound, color and ethnicity that you cannot find anywhere else. This is another uniquely San Francisco experience that is an unforgettable touchstone for Bay Area residents and visitors alike!