Chinese New Year in San Francisco was very subdued last year due to Covid: no parade. But it's back full-force for 2022!
Chinese New Year arrives on February 1, 2022.
Celebrate the coming of the Year of the Tiger in San Francisco with tips from a local!
Celebrations for Chinese New Year in 2022 will be be similar to past years, including the parade, markets, pageants and street fairs.
The SF Chinese New Year Parade will be held on Saturday, February 19, 2022.
|New Year Parade||Chinatown Street Fair||Flower Market Fair|
|Getting there/Parking||New Year Customs||Year of the Ox|
|New Year Parade||Chinatown Street Fair|
|Flower Market Fair||Year of the Ox|
|Getting there/Parking||New Year Customs|
The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on February 1 for 2022, and San Francisco celebrates for two-and-a-half weeks.
If you're visiting the city around this time, you're usually in for a treat: parades, street fairs, fireworks and lots of friendly energy!
San Francisco has one of the biggest and oldest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia. Around 500,000 people come to the events here, so be prepared for crowds!
Highlights of the 2022 Chinese New Year Events in SF:
When: Saturday, Feb 19, 2022. Starts 5:15 pm. Lasts about 2.5 hours.
Where: Starts at 2nd and Market, goes down Market to 3rd St, up Geary to Powell, right on Powell for one block, then right on Post down to Kearny, left on Kearny, then along Kearny all the way to Columbus. This year it goes all around Union Square.
I scoped out the route the parade will take. See my tips on the good spots to watch from, and photos of the parade route at parade tips.
The four sets of bleachers along the route provide a good view of the parade (and a guaranteed place to sit down).
See the Parade route map above.
For bleacher seating, they recommend you get there by 4 pm. To sit in the bleachers, they require either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours.
To see what the bleacher seating looked like in a recent parade, go to bleacher seats.
The parade is loud and full of life. Group after group of dragon dancers, acrobats, martial arts displays, elaborate floats, costumed marchers and stilt walkers. Lots of pounding drums and firecrackers! Something to be experienced at least once in a lifetime; many people go year after year.
Tips for enjoying the parade:
If you can, stay till the end, because you'll be treated to the sight of the Golden Dragon. The huge dragon is all lit up, over 200 feet long, and carried by 100 dragon dancers; this is the Grand Finale of the parade. Drums, firecrackers, and magic!
Can't get there? In past years, it's been broadcast live on TV. Two local stations carried it, so check later to see if it's happening this year: KTVU Fox 2 and KTSF Channel 26 (6 to 8 pm).
Or watch it online, at http://www.ktvu.com/news/ktvu-live-stream or via the KTSF app for mobile devices. The KTSF broadcast will probably be in Chinese.
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By car: streets along the parade route will be closed at 4:30 pm, and traffic will be ugly, but you can still drive in and park. But garages will fill up fast; booking a spot with a parking app ahead of time is a safer bet. Caveat: sometimes garages have higher rates for special events; another reason to book ahead.
Parking Garages in walking distance:
Tip: The Portsmouth Square, Union Square, St. Mary's Square, and 550 Kearny garages are all on the parade route, but the last two have access from other streets, so you can still get in and out during the parade. The Portsmouth Square and Union Square garages' entrances/exits will be blocked off after 4:30 p.m. until the parade is over.
A couple of years back, I found a spot through Spot Hero for $10 for the day of the parade at the 550 Kearny Garage, right on the parade route, so it's possible. But I booked it almost a month in advance.
In the past, I've seen $8 for the day of the parade at the 550 Kearny Garage. The word is, plan ahead!
See SF parking apps for a general review of the parking apps available in SF.
Public Transportation: it's easy to get to the parade by BART or Muni, but the crowds could be fierce. Best to come a bit early, and maybe hang out in Chinatown or North Beach for a late dinner afterwards.
BART and Muni (underground): Get off at the Montgomery or Powell Street stops, depending on where along the route you plan to go.
A number of bus routes go to this area. Check out the downloadable pdf from the city that shows all the bus routes: Muni System Map.
When: Jan 29, 2022: 10 am to 8 pm.
Jan 30, 2022: 9 am to 6 pm.
Where: along Grant Avenue (Clay to Broadway), and on Pacific, Jackson and Washington Streets (between Stockton and Kearny).
This is a pretty tradition: city blocks of flowers, fruit trees, and fruit for sale, to welcome in the new year.
Chinese tradition associates certain flowers and fruits with good luck, so many Chinese families come to purchase these items to decorate their homes before the new year, to bring good fortune to their family for the rest of the year.
Especially auspicious items: orchids, narcissus, peach blossoms, chrysanthemums, and little trees bearing oranges or tangerines.
There will be Chinese opera and lion dancing on the stage as well.
Around 400,000 people attend this fair! Very crowded.
Held in San Francisco annually for almost 60 years!
When: Saturday, Feb 12, 2022, at 7:30 pm.
Where: Palace of fine Arts Theater, 3301 Lyon Street.
The Coronation Ball TBA.
When: Saturday, Feb 19, 2022, from 10 am to 4:30 pm.
Sunday, Feb 20, 2022, from 9 am to 5 pm.
Where: Grant Avenue, (California Street to Broadway), and Sacramento, Washington, Jackson and Pacific Streets (Stockton to Kearny).
This is a fun and colorful street fair. Surround yourself in a celebration of Chinese culture: traditional Chinese music and dancing, acrobats, puppet shows, lion dancing, magic shows, lantern and kite-making, Chinese snacks, etc. Tons of people! (500,000 expected)
Walking through Chinatown the night of the parade was magical!
San Francisco Symphony. Lunar New Year Concert, Saturday, Feb 5, 2022, at 5 pm. Performances of works by Chinese composers, both classical and folk selections. See SF Symphony Chinese New Year for more info and tickets.
Bay Area Discovery Museum. The museum hosts an annual Chinese New Year Celebration. Celebrate the Year of the rat with lion dancers, calligraphy and Kung Fu demonstrations. Date to be announced. See schedule for more info and tickets.
If you're planning to stay in San Francisco for Chinese New Year and want to be in the heart of all the festivities, I've created a list of the hotels on the parade route. See Hotels on the Parade Route for photos and more info.
The beginning of the lunar year is an extremely important time in Chinese tradition, because how one begins the year is said to affect one's fortunes for the entire year!
Do: before the new year, thoroughly clean the house, put up "spring couplets" (two strips of red paper with good luck sayings...you'll see these sold in the markets), decorate with lucky flowers and plants, buy new clothes for everyone in the family, and have a family reunion dinner. Set off firecrackers when the new year arrives to drive off bad spirits and bad luck.
New Year's day: wear the new clothes, give the children red envelopes with money, listen to the ringing of a large bell, show respect to the ancestors' altar (if you have one!), watch the dragon and lion dancers. Give a special new year's greeting to others.
Gung Hay Fat Choi (Cantonese) is not as traditional as some of the New Year's greetings, but it is one of the most popular and well-known locally. It doesn't literally mean Happy New Year but is wishing the other joy and prosperity.
Don't: Lots of these! Don't sweep or clean house for two days, or you'll sweep away all the accumulated good luck. Ditto for hair and clothes washing. Don't speak unlucky words (say "death" and you'll be sorry!). Don't eat porridge (brings poverty). More No's: crying children, broken dishes, knives, black or white clothing, no hospital visits, and no borrowing or lending money. And don't give any one a clock or a mirror. Whew! Fortunately, after a couple of days, you can go back to normal and it won't affect the entire year.
Chinese tradition divides the year into 12 parts, each associated with one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. A person's character and personality are supposedly influenced by their birth sign.
Who is this tiger? He's a bold and confident fellow, who jumps into action without much planning, and is a brave and charismatic leader.
The tiger is a hard worker and gets things done, though sometimes he can come across as arrogant and domineering.
He's competitive and occasionally irritable, but in spite of that, the tiger is generally well-liked.
Will the Year of the Tiger be a good one or a bad one? The answer depends on which sign your were born under; Chinese astrology is complex and each animal interacts differently with all of the others.
This year, the luckiest signs are Ox and Goat.
It's not a great year for those born under this year's sign (tiger years: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022). But for even better luck, wear a red item given you by an older relative. Or just ignore the whole thing and enjoy the festivities!
I've scouted the parade route for the best viewing spots. Here are the results, with photos.
COVID-19 Status: at midnight on Monday, March 16, San Francisco was placed under a "shelter-in-place order.
All residents were ordered to stay home, except for necessary trips to grocery stores and essential medical visits, and solo outdoor activities like hiking.
The city had been gradually reopening of many businesses and activities, but in December, 2020, came under a strict, stay-at-home directive, due to a sudden increase in infection and hospitalization rates.
Since then, Covid numbers dropped significantly, but rose again when Omicron hit, then dropped again. They are fairly low now.
Big changes coming June 15 California was "fully reopened", meaning all business sectors reopened to full or almost full capacity, including concerts, stadium sports and festivals. SF since then has been basically open, though somewhat more cautious in some regards than other locations.
Vaccine requirements: as of March 9, 2022. SF no longer requires that restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms check for proof of vaccination, but they can choose to require it, so check each venue individually.
Documents accepted: paper or digital vaccination records.
Mask rules: as of February 28, 2022, no one is now required to wear a mask indoors in SF, whether vaccinated or not. Hospitals, nursing homes and public transit, still require masks.
As of March 28, 2022, over 88% of SF residents have been fully vaccinated.
Public transportation options have been cut back, but are expanding again. See SF transit for more info. Masks are still required of everyone on public transit (federal law), but not vaccination or test results.
The cable cars are running again.
What is open? Muir Woods, the Botanic Gardens, Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden, Pier 39, SF beaches, Golden Gate Bridge, most museums, and Twin Peaks (car access on Portola) are all open.
Parking lots for SF beaches, Twin Peaks, and the Golden Gate Bridge are open, including the Welcome Center lot.
Restaurants can now be open to full capacity for indoor as well as outdoor dining, and many restaurants are open for take-out or delivery. /p>
Bars that serve food can serve customers indoors.
Businesses can allow customers inside, up to full capacity. Malls are open.The SF Zoo is open again.
Alcatraz is open.The Day Tours, Night Tours and Behind the Scene Tours are running now. The Cell Block is open also.
No proof of vaccination is required for the Alcatraz tours. Masking only for the boat over, the dock area and indoor areas. See Alcatraz.
Hair salons, and open air tour buses, outdoor walking tours, and boat cruises can now operate.
Indoor museums are open, including the CA Academy of Sciences.
Travel to SF: There are no quarantine requirements for travelers to SF.
Hotels are accepting reservations, but travelers are urged to limit contact with others in the hotel.
Masks are required inside the SF airport.
Indoor swimming pools are open to full capacity.
Schools: public and private schools are open. SF public schools started in-person learning for all students last fall (2021). Masks are no longer required for students in SF public or private schools.
Indoor gyms and indoor movie theaters are open to full capacity..
Indoor concerts, live theater, and sporting events, may open at full capacity. For indoor gatherings of >1,000, proof of vaccination or negative Covid test will be required.
Outdoor events for >10,000: may require proof of vaccination or negative test, but aren't required to.
Check individual events for requirements.
Napa and Sonoma county wineries are open.
See Covid rules for current SF status (April 2022).
For a handy list of what's open or closed in SF, plus info on what's open in other cities and counties of California, see California reopening schedules.
See coronavirus news in the SF Chronicle for details and updates.
Also see site closures for the National Park Service (Alcatraz, Muir Woods, etc.)
And to check the air quality (fires) in SF and the Bay Area, see airnow.gov.
Get the latest tips on visiting San Francisco.