Year of the Tiger: Lunar New Year Celebrations

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Lunar New Year is here! Often called Chinese New Year, it is also celebrated by Vietnamese and South Korean cultures and this year rings in the year of the tiger. Six, life-sized tigers can be found on display around San Francisco—see if your family can spot all six. We have ideas for in person, at home and virtual celebrations so read on for all the options. May this year be ours to come roaring back!

Editor’s note: This information was accurate at the time of publication but because things are rapidly changing with rising COVID cases, we urge you to check websites  or call ahead before heading out.

Culture Shock L.A.

San Francisco

Chinese New Year Flower Market Fair, Chinatown
The weekend before the new lunar year is celebrated, families traditionally hit up stores for supplies for the big celebration. More than 120 vendors will be on hand at the market fair showcasing plants, fruits, flowers, candy and other delights while performances from magicians, acrobats, drummers and folk dancers entertain shoppers. Jan. 29 & 30, Event details 

Chinese New Year’s Day Parade, Chinatown
The largest Lunar New year celebration outside of Asia, San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade pulls out all the stops in its illuminated parade.  Revelers will enjoy colorful floats, dazzling costumes, stilt walkers, lion dancers and the newly crowned Miss Chinatown USA. Another highlight is  the famous Golden Dragon, “Gum Lung”, requiring about 180 handlers for its 268-foot length. The parade starts on Market Street (full parade map) and reserved bleacher seats are also available for purchase. Feb. 19 5 p.m. Event details 

Lunar New Year Community Street Fair
The most exciting time of the year in Chinatown is when Lunar New Year is celebrated! Vendors, giant puppets, family activities and live performances will all be on hand so bring the entire family down. Feb 19 & 20 Event details 

Lunar New Year Celebration at Thrive City
Arts and crafts, an inflatable slide, balloon artists and lion dancers will head up the celebration at Thrive City to ring in the year of the Tiger. Jan 28 5 p.m. Event details 

San Francisco Symphony
Celebrate Lunar New Year with the San Francisco Symphony at this vibrant event that draws upon Asian traditions, past and present with a special debut by conductor Yue Bao as she  leads the Orchestra. Feb 5 Event details 

Celebration: Year of the Tiger at Main Library
Chinese traditional dance performances, a choir, tea ceremony, costume show and of course lion dance will all be on hand to bring in the new year! Feb. 5, 2:30 p.m. Event details 

Lunar New Year Pop-Up at Ferry Building
Chinatown’s most beloved small businesses will be at this pop-up with their wares and crafts to prepare for the celebration of Lunar New Year. Jan. 29 & 30, Feb. 5,6,12,13 Event details 

Celebrate Lunar New Year at Lazy Susan’s
With a fresh, modern take on Chinese classic dishes, Lazy Susan’s makes a night in with takeout a delicious family affair. Starting Feb. 16, they will move to a new location in West Portal but not to worry—family-favorite beef chow mein, with its savory and chewy noodles will still be available! 
More details.


East Bay

Lunar New Year Celebration, Oakland Museum of California
Ring in the lunar new year with family-friendly cultural performances, story time with author Olive Chin, food truck bites, live music, take-home art activities and much more. Feb. 5 12-3 p.m. Event details 

Jack London Square Lunar New Year Celebration
This family-friendly event celebration will include martial art demonstrations, lion dancers, giveaways and a tiger mask craft kit for kids! Jan. 29, 1 p.m. Event details 

Lunar New Year Festival, Oakland Asian Cultural Center
The Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) is partnering with the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce’s Lunar New Year celebration for a complimentary indoor-outdoor jamboree for all ages to hail the Year of the Tiger. Live performances, interactive arts and crafts and a variety of vendors are all on the agenda. Feb. 6, 11 a.m. Event details 

San Jose Libraries

South Bay/Peninsula

Community Day Lunar New Year San Jose Museum of Art
Time-honored Lunar New Year traditions around the globe will be brought to the SJMA through cultural demonstrations, live performances, arts and crafts and a lion dance to mark the beginning of a new year. Feb. 5, 11 a.m. Event details

The Year of the Tiger, Children’s Discovery Museum
Tradition meets contemporary in music and dance performances as the museum celebrates the Year of the Tiger! Learn about the culture and customs of our Chinese, Vietnamese and South Korean friends and neighbors as we celebrate the Lunar New Year! Feb. 5, 9 a.m. Event details 

Lunar New Year Family Celebration at the Gamble Garden
The festivities kick off with a guided nature hunt followed by arts and crafts and ends with an exhilarating lion dance! Feb. 12, 10:30 a.m Event details 

Santana Row Celebrates the Year of the Tiger
Follow the drumbeat and clashing cymbals to the lion dance! Giveaways, arts and crafts,  live performances and more will entertain the entire family. Feb. 5, 4 p.m. Event details

11th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration, Courthouse Square in Redwood City
Lion dancers, martial artists, drummers and other live performers will head up the festivities along with arts and crafts at nearby San Mateo County History museum. Feb. 12, 11 a.m. Event details 


Lunar New Year Festival, Terra Marin School
Make a paper lantern, take a turn on Korean drums, watch a fashion show all while indulging on spring rolls and rice buns at this annual festival! Feb. 5, 10 a.m. Event details


Ways to Celebrate at Home

Books to read on Lunar New Year

Find your zodiac animal

Make your own Lunar New Year Red Envelope

Lunar New Year Zodiac Animals Coloring Pages 

Watch youth dancers from LionDanceME 

Storyteller Fred Sheng tells “Why the Rat Comes First”

Storyteller Leta Bushyhead tells “Nian, the Beast”

Virtual Celebrations

OMCA Virtual Celebrations
Want to learn how to make delicious dumplings? Make a shadow puppet? Engage in a healing circle? Join the OMCA in one or all three virtual events! Jan. 25, Feb. 1, Feb. 8  Event details

Lunar New Year Storytelling with the Asian Art Museum
Welcome the Year of the Tiger with this fun virtual Lunar New Year storytelling program for the whole family. Why is the tiger the third animal of the zodiac? What does the tiger symbolize in Asian art? Learn all this and more with exciting stories and close looking at artworks from the museum collection. Recommended for ages 7 and up, but all are welcome.  Jan. 30, 11 a.m. Event details 

—Christine Lai & Kate Loweth

featured photo by Christine Lai


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