Gong Xi Fa Cai: Chinese New Year Parade/Chinatown

Gong xi fa cai! – Happy New Year!

Our very first evening in San Francisco was quite eventful – while wandering the streets after dinner, Jiwon and I just so happened to encounter the Chinese New Year parade. We found it weird because the New Year was like 3 weeks ago, and they’re celebrating it now, but I’m not complaining – I got to see “one of San Francisco’s signature events!” (SFGate)

Chinese New Year Celebration Parade San Francisco

Chinese New Year Parade Photo San Francisco

We originally planned to walk straight to Chinatown, but since the parade cut across the city, Jiwon and I had to find a detour. While trying to do this, we saw the same 3 floats twice…so the photo above actually shows round 2 of the same float from the first picture!

Chinese New Year Dragon Parade San Francisco
This dragon display was pretty awesome. Imagine it moving like a wave!

Chinese New Year Lion Parade San Francisco

Finally, we made it to Chinatown. What I did not expect, however, was for people to set off fireworks all over the place. As a result, the streets were LOUD! The sudden pops of sound took some getting used to. I can only imagine what it was like in China during the actual new year celebration?

Chinatown San Francisco Fireworks

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Thanks for the photo, Jiwon!

Chinatown San Francisco at Night

I’ve never celebrated the New Year in China (booo, school), but I feel like I got a small taste of what it would have been like. Tons of people out on the streets, fireworks setting off every few minutes, and lots of noise & chaos. While it may have been exciting for a little while, I was glad to return to peace and quiet outside of the neighborhood (sort of…they were also cleaning the streets that night. Sigh.). San Francisco sure welcomed us with a bang!

Chinatown San Francisco Entrance
Bye, Chinatown!

Have you ever celebrated the Lunar/Chinese New Year? How did you celebrate?

Thanks for reading! You can also follow along on Instagram!

P.S. Also in SF: Down By the Bay: Wandering San Francisco’s Piers, Spending an Afternoon in San Francisco