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February 1st, 2019

What to Expect at the Chinese New Year Parade in SF

Travel Tips

San Francisco is a uniquely intriguing destination during the festivals of the Chinese New Year. The parade celebrating the Lunar New Year is a SF Chinatown tradition that dates back to the 1850s. The nighttime illuminated-procession of fire dancers, fireworks, acrobats and dragons garners international attention.

This year it falls on Feb. 5, but the Chinatown parade will be held Feb. 23 at 5:15 pm. It’s the zodiac year of the pig, a symbol of wealth.

Stanford Court Hotel is located on Nob Hill, just a quick walk to Chinatown. See our special for the Chinese New Year here. If this is your first time ringing in the Chinese New Year in SF, here’s a low-down as to what to expect for this year’s celebration.



Hundreds of thousands of attendees pour into SF annually to celebrate the Chinese New Year, and 2019 should be no different. The good news is, the parade is about two hours long and the route generally accommodates such an attendance. The event website suggests attendees arrive at 4:30 pm to claim a spot along the route. See route info here.

Looking for a good place to watch the parade? Check out Fog City Secret’s blog post on where to find the best spot along the route.

It’s strongly suggested to use public transit or walk. Street closures and heavy foot traffic will cause traffic aroud Chinatown and Union Square on the evening of Feb. 23.


Firecrackers are an essential part of this parade, so if you’re sensitive to the noise or traveling with a little one, bring ear plugs. A reported 600,000 firecrackers are typically set off during the celebration.



Gum Lung, or Golden Dragon, is a 250+ foot-long dragon manned by at least 100 people. The Golden Dragon signals the end of the parade and travels through the street at an impressive speed.


Keep an eye out for Miss Chinatown USA. The pageant queen will be part of the parade, and she and her court will be ambassadors for the Chinese community throughout the new year.


Aside from the parade, other festival events will also be held throughout February. The Flower Market Fair will be held Feb. 2-3, and is the place to purchase flowers, fruits, candies and other supplies to prepare the home for the new year. There will also be folk dancing, opera, acrobatics and martial arts performances along with 120+ booths.

The Community Street Fair will be held Feb. 23-24 in Chinatown. More info here.

Mini parades, ribbon-cutting ceremonies and basketball jamborees are also part of the celebrations and shows the real heart of the Chinese-American community in Chinatown. Check out the details on the event page.

Gung hay fat choy!


The newly-renovated Stanford Court Hotel is located right near Chinatown in the upscale Nob Hill neighborhood. Check out our special Chinese New Year offerings. 



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