Gung Hay Fat Choy! January brings a new calendar year as well as Chinese New Year events leading up to the Grand Parade, which will be held on Saturday, February 24th. As we bid farewell to the year of the rabbit, let us reflect on the joyful moments it brought and look forward to the exciting opportunities that the year of the dragon will bring. This transition represents a time of renewal and growth, as the dragon symbolizes power, strength, and good fortune. The celebrations in San Francisco are some of the largest in the world. You’ll find lots of fun events for the lunar new year in both January and February, just minutes from NEMA. Here are a few featured events happening as the Year of the Dragon is welcomed:

Year of the Dragon on Parade: February 10 marks the first day of the Year of the Wood Dragon. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco proudly presents this year’s Zodiac on Parade featuring the mythical Dragon. The public art project, which was introduced in 2021, will display five Wooden Dragon statues in and around San Francisco from Sunday, January 28 – Saturday, March 2, 2024.

The Dragon Statues spotlight publicly submitted artwork that reflects upon the culture, people, and traditions surrounding the Chinese New Year. Explore the amazing Blue and White Porcelain Dragon by Alaska Airlines, Heavenly Jade Dragon by the Golden State Warriors, Ping An Dragon by Lexus, Rainbow Dragon by Lucky California, and Good Luck Dragon by Sky River Casino.

Flower Market Fair: February 3-4. The Flower Fair is the place to come to purchase fresh flowers, fruits, candies and brand new supplies for the home to begin the new lunar year. Delight in performances of traditional Chinese magicians, acrobats, folk dancers and opera as you take in the beautiful fragrances of spring. You will find over 120 booths and concessions making this a shopper’s paradise.

Choy Sun Doe: February 10. Under the auspices of the SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Choy Suns will grace Chinatown and pass out thousands of “Lai Sees” to eagerly waiting children. All the “Lai Sees” will contain a chocolate gold coin. Additionally, some will have either money or a gift certificate that can be redeemed for a toy. Choy Sun, the god of wealth, is a deity that every Chinese person welcomes. He blesses everyone he encounters with much prosperity and abundant wealth. Traditionally, “Lai Sees” (red envelopes) are passed out to children and unmarried persons during Chinese New Year as a good luck symbol, with the belief that the more “Lai Sees” one passes out, the more good luck will be returned.

Basketball Jamboree: February 17. This basketball tournament was started by retired Francisco Middle School Principal Kenny Lee. Kenny wanted to create a basketball tournament that was reminiscent of his childhood days growing up in SF Chinatown. This event also showcases the adult alumni who lend their support and volunteer their time as referees and provide support to this next generation of our youth. Bring your friends and family to this exciting Lunar New Year Basketball Jamboree.

Miss Chinatown USA Pageant: February 23. The beautiful, talented and bright young women from throughout the United States are still coming to San Francisco during Chinese New Year to compete for scholarships and prizes in the annual Miss Chinatown USA Pageant. Each year’s winners become goodwill ambassadors for the Chinese community throughout the new lunar year.

Chinese New Year Grand Parade: February 24. Named one of the top ten Parades in the world by International Festivals & Events Association, the Alaska Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is one of the few remaining night illuminated Parades in North America and the biggest parade celebrating the Lunar New Year outside of Asia. Over 100 units will participate in the Alaska Airlines Chinese New Year Parade. A San Francisco tradition since just after the Gold Rush, the parade continues to delight and entertain the many hundreds of thousands of people who come to watch it on the street.

The San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade, celebrating the Year of the Dragon, will be stepping off at Second and Market Streets. It is a free event for all to attend but tickets must be purchased to sit in the bleacher sections.

The San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival & Parade is thrilled to announce, Awkwafina as this year’s Parade Grand Marshal. “It’s such an honor to serve as Grand Marshal of the San Francisco Lunar New Year Parade! I’m so excited to celebrate with our community,” says Awkwafina, who will be starring in the upcoming Kung Fu Panda 4 as Zhen, a fox who teams up with the franchise’s legendary Dragon Warrior, Po. “Having been born in the year of the dragon, I look forward to fostering growth and progress that the upcoming year will bring for us.”

Community Street Fair: February 24-25. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of San Francisco’s exhilarating Chinatown during one of the community’s most exciting times of the year. You will find over 120 booths and concessions making this a shopper’s paradise. The SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce has activities and entertainment for all ages. Enjoy Chinese folk dancing, opera, drumming and much more at the entertainment stage on Pacific St. below Grant Ave. Make sure to get a family photo with the giant puppets, dragon and other memorable artifacts from the Parade.

Chinatown YMCA Run: March 3. The Chinatown YMCA, in San Francisco’s historic Chinatown, is holding its 46th annual “Chinese New Year Run” in 2024. This scenic route starts at Sacramento and Grant, winds its way through Chinatown, North Beach, The Embarcadero and Downtown and finishes on Kearny between California and Sacramento.

Visit the Chinese New Year Festival & Parade website for more detailed information on events.

Image credit: Dru Kelly (@drukelly)

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