For 15 days during the Chinese New Year, San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood bustles with sound and color -- even more than it usually does. This is the largest Chinatown on the continent, and it pulls out all the stops for the annual festivities. The Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the first moon of the lunar calendar, which usually falls between late January and mid February.
The Chinese New Year Parade (a San Francisco tradition since just after the 1849 Gold Rush) is now the biggest illuminated nighttime parade in North America. In fact, it's the largest event of its kind on any continent except Asia. Participants take the year's theme and run with it, crafting gorgeous floats that range from purely aesthetic to political. Dancers and stilt-walkers entertain the crowds, and others light firecrackers, pass out "funny money," and do their best to bring good luck to the New Year.
The parade culminates with Gum Lung, the Golden Dragon -- an ornate, human-powered 200-foot silk, gauze, and velvet beast with a bamboo skeleton. Year-round, Chinatown is one of the Bay Area's most visited tourist hotspots, with plenty of eateries, bars, and shops. But it also serves as an authentic neighborhood where people live, work, and play.
Chinatown and the Chinese New Year Information
Address: Chinatown Entrance at Grant Ave. and Bush St., San Francisco, CA
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