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2012 Chinese New Year Parade Girl
Photo by Dave Golden
Union Square Park Chinese New Year Lanterns
Chinese New Year Lanterns in Union Square Park
Chinese New Year Parade 2012
Photo by Dave Pacheco
February 22, 2013

San Francisco's Famous Chinese New Year Parade

We’re all about Chinese New Year here in Union Square! This month marked the beginning of the Year of the Snake. Snakes are known to be lucky with finances, so 2013 is sure to be an auspicious year for business. If you’re like us and feel that this is reason to celebrate, we’ve got plenty of Chinese New Year festivities here in Union Square to keep you entertained.

Chinese New Year celebrations last for 15 days, so even though the holiday has officially passed, there will be plenty of festivities happening all over San Francisco for the rest of the weekend. Keep an eye out for Lion Dancing, a Street Fair and the Miss Chinatown USA Coronation Ball, among several other events celebrating the Lunar New Year.

Of course, the main event here in Union Square is The Chinese New Year Parade, sponsored by Southwest Airlines. Each year, Union Square is home to the largest parade of its kind this side of Asia. Started in the 1860’s, the parade is a longstanding San Francisco tradition. The procession is packed with gorgeous floats, fabulous costumes, fierce lions, exploding firecrackers, Miss Chinatown USA and the crowd-pleasing 268-foot Golden Dragon.

This year the parade will take a modified route through Union Square, starting at 5:15 p.m. on Market at 2nd Street, meandering up Kearny with a detour down Post, hitting Powell before snaking back along Sutter Street.

If you’re looking for a spot to catch the parade, there’s no better place than right in the heart of the action in Union Square Park. Since the parade runs right along the north side of the square, it’s guaranteed to be the perfect spot to take in the lights, music, dancing and intricate costumes that make this parade famous. We suggest you arrive early, as the square fills up fast, and we recommend taking public transit, since BART and MUNI both stop right nearby at Powell St. Station. While there are several parking options, they tend to fill up as well. Spend some time in the park beforehand - along with Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and several other local businesses, we’ve decorated with red and gold paper lanterns just for the occasion. Gung Hay Fat Choy!