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September 27th, 2017

Why You Can't Miss the Autumn Moon Festival

Travel Tips

The yearly event that is the Autumn Moon Festival is set for Chinatown on Sept. 30-Oct. 1; two full days of lion dancers, moon pies, bubble tea and more all in merriment of the summer’s harvest and the arrival of mid-autumn. The festival is an annual event that was first celebrated 3,000 years ago during the Shang Dynasty. Its observed by Chinese and Vietnamese people and takes place when the moon is full and at its brightest of the year.


San Francisco’s Chinatown has held the festival since the 1950s, complete with food and drink, arts and crafts, parades and entertainment. If that’s not reason enough, here are the main reasons you can’t miss out on the Autumn Moon Festival.


The Parade. The opening day parade is quite the spectacle, with ribbon dancers, giant puppets, lion dancers and marching bands. It begins at 11 a.m. on Sept. 30 on Grant and California Street (a mere 5 minutes from Stanford Court). It’s a short promenade down Grant Street, ending at Washington Street, where the bulk of entertainment will be. The smaller closing parade of the White Crane Dragon will be held Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m.


See Chinatown in all its glory. Chinatown’s main drag of Grant Street will be lit with lanterns and buzzing with performances of martial arts, traditional dances and acrobats. The festivities are chockful of food and drink so you can try an array of foods specific to SF Chinatown. There’s no shortage of entertainment and food that are all pleasing to the senses.


Moon pies. Autumn Moon Festival isn’t complete without a few moon pies. These golden pastries are filled with bean paste, rich egg yolks and nuts (or other goodies) and are usually shaped like the moon. You won’t miss them. Arrive with an empty stomach and take some to go -- they make an excellent breakfast snack the day after.


It’s in walking distance. There couldn’t be a more convenient festival if you’re staying at Stanford Court unless it was in the lobby. A five-minute walk on California Street brings you to Grant Avenue, right where the parade starts. Just 3 blocks north takes you to the main event area, where you can enjoy the festivities til 6 p.m. over the weekend.


And after the festivities, moon pies and bubble tea, don’t forget to look up at the full moon, which is at its brightest this time of year.


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