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San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Festival and Parade Comes Roaring Back to Celebrate the Year of the Tiger

The iconic San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival & Parade to celebrate the Year of the Tiger will be held on Saturday, February 19, 2022.

In 1847, San Francisco was a sleepy little village known as Yerba Buena with a population of 459. With the discovery of gold and the ensuing California Gold Rush, by 1849, over 50,000 people had come to San Francisco to seek their fortune or just a better way of life. Among those were many Chinese, who had come to work in the gold mines and on the railroad. By the 1860s, the Chinese were eager to share their culture with those who were unfamiliar with it. They chose to showcase their culture by using a favorite American tradition – the Parade. Nothing like it had ever been done in their native China. They invited a variety of other groups from the city to participate, and they marched down what today are Grant Avenue and Kearny Street carrying colorful flags, banners, lanterns, drums and firecrackers to drive away evil spirits.

Today, the San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is the largest celebration of its kind in the world, attracting over three million spectators and television viewers throughout the U.S., Canada, and Asia. The parade still welcomes a variety of other groups to join in the march, and still hopes to educate, enrich and entertain its audience with the colorful pageantry of Chinese culture and tradition.

This year’s lineup

January 29 & 30: Flower Market Fair
The Chinese New Year Flower Market Fair is held on the weekend before Chinese New Year Day. 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.

February 1: Choy Sun Doe
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.

February 12: Miss Chinatown Pageant
The search for contestants is initiated each fall by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Chinese organizations, business groups and colleges are invited to send in their entrants. Many cities send their own contest winner to San Francisco to compete. Once the entry is accepted, a sponsor helps defray some of the expenses.

Now, the beautiful, talented and bright young women from throughout the United States are 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.

February 19: Chinese New Year Parade
The San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade, celebrating the Year of the Tiger, 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 entire parade route is an excellent place to view the parade but it does get more crowded as you get closer to Chinatown. If standing along the parade route we recommend you pick a spot before 4:30 PM.. If you purchased bleacher tickets, we recommend you arrive near your assigned section around 4:00 PM.

To purchase bleacher tickets, click HERE.

February 19 & 20: Community Street Fair
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 Washington St. below Grant Ave. Make sure to get a family photo with the giant puppets, dragon and other memorable artifacts from the Parade!

March 6: Chinatown YMCA Run
The Chinatown YMCA, in San Francisco’s historic Chinatown, is holding its 43rd annual “Chinese New Year Run” this year. The event will be held virtually and all our friends and partners from across the globe are welcome to participate.

For registration details and more information, click HERE.

Gong hei fat choy!

January 25, 2022

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