San Francisco's
Chinese New Year 2022

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!

drawing of tiger

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.

This Year's Events - 2022

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!

Chinese New Year Celebrations in the City

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:
(details below)

  • Chinese Flower Fair (Jan 29 & 30, 2022)
  • Miss Chinatown USA Pageant (Feb 1, 2022)
  • Gods of Wealth (Choy Sun) distribute red envelopes with prizes to kids. (Feb 1, 2022) See details.
  • Chinese New Year Parade (Feb 19, 2022)
  • Chinatown Street Fair (Feb 19 & 20, 2022)

The SF Chinese New Year Parade 2022

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.

Best Places to View the SF Chinese New Year Parade

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.

2022 SF Chinese New year parade route map
2022 Parade Route with Bleachers Marked

Bleacher Seating

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.

Color-coded bleacher locations, SF Chinese New Year parade
  • Section A: $55, in the reviewing stand on Kearny St, between Washington and Jackson (end of parade route).
  • Section B: $38, on Kearny, between California and Sacramento.
  • Section C: $38, on Post, between Grant and Kearny.
  • Section E: $65 on Geary, on Union Square, between Stockton and Powell

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 book bleacher seats, go to bleacher tickets.

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.

dragon boat in san francisco chinese new years parade 2014
SF New Year Parade, Dragon Boat
(© Kobby_dagan | - Chinese New Year Parade Photo)

Tips for enjoying the parade:

  • Get there early (by 4:30 at the latest, 3:30 for front row spots).
  • Dress warmly, and bring an umbrella; the parade goes rain or shine.
  • Bring water and snacks.
  • Book a seat if standing is a problem (see above).
  • Driving and parking? Book a spot in advance in a garage, with a parking app (see below).

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!

san francisco chinatown dragon mural
SF Chinatown Mural

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 or via the KTSF app for mobile devices. The KTSF broadcast will probably be in Chinese.

Note: I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through some of the links on this page, at no extra cost to you. This helps me provide all the free information I post on this website. Thank you for your support!

Getting to the Parade

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:

  • Sutter-Stockton Garage, 330 Stockton (enter on Bush or Stockton Street)
  • Union Square Garage (Union Square, enter on Geary)
  • 450 Sutter Garage
  • Ellis-O'Farrell, 123 O'Farrell
  • Fifth and Mission Garage, 833 Mission at 5th Street.
  • 550 Kearny Garage (valet, enter 665 Sacramento Street).
  • Portsmouth Square Garage, 733 Kearny at Clay.
  • St. Mary's Square Garage, 433 Kearny (also an entrance on California St.)

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.

Parking tip: if you plan to drive, book a parking spot through one of the parking apps, like, well in advance if you can.

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.

Chinese Flower Market Fair 2022

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).

orange tree

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.

Miss Chinatown USA Pageant 2022

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.

Chinatown Community Street Fair 2022

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!

Evening in Chinatown

More Chinese New Year Events

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.

Hotels Near the Parade

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.

Chinese New Year Customs

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!

Want a lucky 2022? Here are the Do's and Don'ts...

happy face icon

Do: before the new year, thoroughly clean the house, put up "spring couplets" (two strips of red paper with good luck'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.

Carrying New Year's Presents
SF Chinatown, 1912

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.

sad face icon

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.

The Year of the Tiger 2022

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!

Insider Tip:

I've scouted the parade route for the best viewing spots. Here are the results, with photos.

More to explore...

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Scroll down for COVID updates.

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 was gradually reopening of many businesses and activities, but in December, came under a strict, stay-at-home directive, due to a sudden increase in infection and hospitalization rates.

Since then, Covid numbers had dropped significantly, but recently started rising again.

Big changes arrived June 15, 2021: California is "fully reopened", meaning all business sectors will reopen to full or almost full capacity, including concerts, stadium sports and festivals. SF is basically open, though somewhat more cautious in some regards.

As of August 20, 2021, almost 80% of eligible SF residents have been fully vaccinated.

Vaccine requirements: Starting August 20, 2021, SF requires that all restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms check for proof of full vaccination.

Documents accepted: paper or digital vaccination records.

See SF Chron article re: vaccination.

Public transportation options had been cut back, but are expanding again. See SF transit for more info.

The cable cars are running again and are free during August! In September, they will resume full (paid) service, starting with the Powell-Hyde Line, and the other 2 lines to follow after.

See COVID rules for current SF status.

Mask rules: another change, starting August 3, 2021. Everyone is now required to wear a mask indoors in SF, whether vaccinated or not. People may go without masks outdoors unless the area is densely populated. Hospitals, schools, nursing homes and public transit, still require masks./p>

What is open? Muir Woods, the Botanic Gardens, Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden, Pier 39, SF beaches, Golden Gate Bridge, and Twin Peaks (car access on Portola, main parking lot open) 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 and outdoor dining, and many restaurants are open for take-out or delivery.

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.

Offices can reopen up to full capacity.

Alcatraz is open. The Day Tours and Night Tours are running on a somewhat reduced basis. The Cell Block is open also. 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. Per the California Dept. of Public Health: non-essential travel to SF from outside California is discouraged but the quarantine requirements are no longer in effect.

Unvaccinated travelers are urged to get tested before and after arrival, and to self-quarantine for 7 days, but this isn't mandatory.

"Non-essential travel" basically means tourism.

Hotels are accepting reservations, but travelers are urged to limit contact with others in the hotel.

Exploratorium: open.

Playgrounds: open.

Indoor swimming pools are open to fullcapacity.

Schools: private schools are open. SF public schools started in-person learning for elementary students April 12. Older grades: negotiations are ongoing. Hopefully all grade levels will be open for in-person fall classes. Masks will be required for students in SF public schools in the fall.

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 >5,000, proof of vaccination 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.

For a handy list of what's open or closed, in California, see California reopening schedules.

See coronavirus news in the SF Chronicle for details and updates.

Also see site and parking lot closures for the National Park Service (Alcatraz, Muir Woods, etc.)

Plus helpful info on which parks and hiking trails are open in the Bay Area.

And to check the air quality (fires) in SF and the Bay Area, see and the SF Chronicle map showing current tests.

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SF Bus, BART, & Cable Car routes.

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