Chinese new year is an event you may expect to see predominantly celebrated in China and it's immediate area, but in fact there are Chinese communities in towns and cities all around the world who take the opportunity to mark the occasion with their own celebrations, moist typically a dragon parade and/or fireworks displays. Across the United States in particular there are lunar new year parties in almost all of the larger cities.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in San Francisco, where the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade is one of the largest not just in the US, but anywhere in the world. The parade itself is actually part of a larger CNY festival that takes place in the weeks leading up to the main event, while the parade represents the climax and generally takes place a full 2 weeks after the official Chinese New year date. The earlier festival is mainly centred around 2 different fairs; the Chinatown Community Street Fair and the Chinese New Year Flower fair. Key dates for both of these are provided below.
When the night parade comes around it is a spectacle worthy of note; the centrepiece is a Golden Dragon, measuring over 200 feet in length and manned by around 100 specially trained volunteers. At the end of the parade there is a fireworks display to bring the festival as a whole to a close.
The Chinese New Year parade gets underway at 5.15pm from 2nd and
Market streets, and follows a straightforward route, travelling
initially down market street before moving in turn onto Kearny,
Post, Powell and Sutter before finally coming to an end on Coumbus
Avenue. There is an online map of the complete parade route
Chinese New Year parade route
There are decent viewing points all along the route, but it will get crowded so the usual advice is to get down there as early as you can to secure yourself a decent position. General viewing is free of charge but if you would prefer a seat and an elevated position then there are bleacher style seats available for a fee:
Bleacher tickets online
Places to watch live; local TV
coverage of the event is actually very good, with 2 local channels
covering the event.
The parade will be shown live on KTVU Fox 2 and KTSF Channel 26.
The best bet for watching this via an online stream would seem to be the KTSF option as they provide a streaming service via their own mobile app, available for both iPhone and Android. You should also probably be aware that this channel is broadcast in Chinese:
If you're planning on visiting San Francisco or the surrounding areas over the Chinese New Year period, then early reservation is strongly recommended to give the best choice of accommodation. You can search, check availability and book local hotels here.
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