Explore your world
Chinese New Year Parade | © Shriram Rajagopalan/Flickr
Chinese New Year Parade | © Shriram Rajagopalan/Flickr

Chinese New Year Celebration In San Francisco

Picture of Brie Shimada
Updated: 25 April 2017
San Francisco’s Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year celebration has been an ongoing custom for 57 years and exists for the sole purpose of showcasing Chinese culture with all who are unfamiliar with it by using one of America’s favorite traditions — a parade. The San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is the largest celebration of its kind in the whole entire world, attracting over three million spectators and television viewers. The parade welcomes a wide variety of groups to join in the march and strives to educate, enrich and entertain its audience with the colorful pageantry of Chinese heritage and cultivation.

The parade has been under the guidance of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce since 1958 and has been televised since 1987. While staying true to the original goals of establishing a strong Chinese community within San Francisco, the growth of popularity and demand for a higher quality celebration has resulted in corporate sponsorship involvement. Because of this, the Chinese New Year celebration has blossomed into a two-week festival, including a Flower Market Fair and Community Fair. This parade has been named one of the top ten parades in the world by IFEA and has grown into the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia.

This year’s parade is taking place on Saturday, February 20, 2016 from 6-8pm. Catch the parade live in the streets, or tune in to watch it on television on KTVU Fox 2 or KTSF Channel 26. This lunar new year parade will feature incredible floats, beautiful costumes, firecrackers, lions, Miss Chinatown U.S.A. along with her court plus a crowd favorite, the amazing 268-foot Golden Dragon.

General viewing of the parade is absolutely free, but tickets are available for bleacher seating. The Chinese New Year Parade begins at 5:15 pm at Second and Market Streets, proceeding west on Market to Kearny, north on Kearny to Post, west on Post to Powell, north on Powell to Sutter, east on Sutter back to Kearny, and then to Columbus Avenue where the parade will end. The parade is taking place rain or shine, so be prepared for all weather forecasts. Streets will be closed beginning at 4pm to accommodate the parade staging area, and Market Street cross traffic will be allowed until 5pm, so plan your day at the celebration accordingly. It’s recommended that you go early to check out the festivities, grab a spot to view the parade, and bring an umbrella just to be safe! It’s such a beautiful and world-renowned celebration you won’t want to miss!  

Gung Hay Fat Choy!


By Brie Shimada

Brie Shimada, a Sacramento native, is currently studying Communication Studies at San Francisco State University. She can either be found capturing photos of the city, reading a good book at Blue Bottle, or shopping local at one of the many farmer’s markets in San Francisco.