Jan. 16th, 2013

San Francisco Hosts The Biggest Chinese New Year Festival Outside of Asia

Photo Courtesy of Chinese New Year Festival & Parade
San Francisco is a city of festivals, from art to gay pride the residents of San Francisco are as colorful as the parties they throw. However, one of the most vibrant San Francisco events continues to be Chinese New Year. A two week spring festival in China, the tradition has been celebrated by the Chinese for over 5,000 years. The city of San Francisco decided to make the holiday their own in 1860 during the age of the Gold Rush, and it has since become the largest Asian event in North America. ChinaDaily ranked San Francisco as having the fourth top Chinatown in which to celebrate the Chinese New Year, although I am sure many would disagree considering the length and size of San Francisco’s celebrations. From mid-January until the end of February the city will be celebrating the Year of the Snake with everything from fairs and parades to art gallery openings and a Miss Chinatown Pageant. Take a look below to see some of the incredible events taking place in San Fran this year.
Chinese Flower Market Fair

Chinese Flower Market Fair

On Saturday, February 2nd from 10 am until 8 pm, and Sunday the 3rd from 9 am until 6 pm on Grant Avenue from Broadway to Clay Street vendors will be displaying a variety of flowering plants, fragrant fruits, and lush blooms. Strolling, visitors are more than likely to see a plethora of oranges and tangerines, which is a symbol in Chinese culture for abundant happiness. Chinese families are renowned for having flowering plants decorating their homes, promoting an energy of growth, connectivity, and rebirth. Traditional holiday plants at the Market Fair include peach blossoms, narcissus, orchids, snap dragons, and chrysanthemums. The fair will also include a petting zoo as well as traditional Chinese dance performances and other cultural expositions.

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock/iStockphoto
 Miss Chinatown Pageant & Coronation Ball

Miss Chinatown Pageant & Coronation Ball

The San Francisco Miss Chinatown Pageant accepts contests from all over the United States and for the past fifty years young Chinese women have come from across the country to compete for scholarship prizes and the title of Miss Chinatown USA. A few guidelines to enter include holding U.S citizen or permanent residency, being of Chinese ancestry (on your father’s side), and being at least 17 years of age. The event is held on the sixteenth of February at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater at 7:30 pm, and like any good pageant includes vibrant costumes and a talent portion. Winners become goodwill ambassadors for the Chinese community throughout the year and appear in the majority of all city New Years events, including the Harrah’s Miss Chinatown U.S.A Coronation Ball, held on February 22, 2013. Tickets to the ball are $120 and feature cocktails, dinner, and dancing as the crowned Miss Chinatown and her royal court preside over the elegant black tie affair.

Photograph Courtesy of David Yu
 Chinatown Community Fair

Chinatown Community Fair

Experience the traditions of the Chinese culture during this vibrant event. The Chinatown Community Fair has been ongoing for the past 24 years including such activities as fortune telling, Chinese calligraphy, and lion dancing. Acrobatcs, drummers, and dancers give life to the streets while vendors sell a variety of souvenirs, food items, and gifts. Take a picture with the giant dragon or learn what’s in store for the upcoming year. The fair will take place Saturday February 23rd from 10 am to 4:30 pm and Sunday February 24th from 9 am to 5 pm. The fun can be found on Grant Avenue from California to Broadway, Pacific Avenue from Kearny to Stockton, and Washington & Jackson Street from Kearny to Stockton.
 Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

The largest celebration of its kind outside of Asia, the Chinese New Year Parade is the culmination of events in San Francisco and has been names as one of the top ten parades in the world by the International Festivals and Events Association. Hundreds of floats will showcase this year’s sign, the snake, while elaborate costumes, firecrackers, and music will engulf the city. Performers, Chinese drummers, and of course the newly crowned Miss Chinatown and her elegant court will be included in the parade, which is attended by hundreds of thousands every year. A mini-parade preview will be held in the morning during which the mayor and other city officials will usher in the celebratory mood of the day with a small pre-parade procession and the Southwest Airlines Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. The pre-party will be held at 10:30 am at the historic Saint Mary’s Square. Traditional festivities will include Lion dancing, giant Chinese puppets, and animated deities.
Read More on ChineseParade.com
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