Your guide to San Francisco’s Chinese New Year 2024 parade, festival

Your guide to San Francisco’s Chinese New Year 2024 parade, festival

The Year of the Dragon, a symbol of strength and luck in the Chinese zodiac, is upon us.

San Francisco’s Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese community will mark the occasion, as they do every February, by hosting a month-long Chinese New Year Festival and Parade — a tradition since just after the Gold Rush. This event reigns as the largest such celebration outside Asia. And the Feb. 24 parade is one of the few illuminated nighttime parades in the world.

Festivities will run from now through March 3.

As grand marshal, Awkwafina will light the ceremonial firecrackers to start the parade, then travel the route. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images) 

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS: The Flower Market Fair on Feb. 3-4 will feature 120 booths selling flowers, fruit and candies for good-luck gifts and decor for home celebrations. Dancers, magicians, singers and acrobats will entertain shoppers along Grant Avenue both days. On Choe Sun Doe Day, Feb. 10, children will receive a good-luck gift, a chocolate gold coin. The final event, on March 3, is the Chinatown YMCA’s 46th annual Chinese New Year 5K, 10K Run and Walk.

DRAGON SCULPTURES: The annual public art display features wooden dragon sculptures installed around the city — and posing for selfies — at Union Square, Thrive City/Chase Center, the Stonestown Galleria and Chinatown’s Rose Pak Station. They’ll be on view through March 2, then auctioned off for charity.

PARADE ROUTE: The parade, which is sponsored by Alaska Airlines, steps off at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at Second and Market streets and heads west, turning onto Geary. The route goes through the heart of Union Square, turning right on Powell Street, then makes a quick right on Post Street to loop back. The final turn, a left on Kearny Street, takes the parade down a long stretch into Chinatown. Total time: About 2.5 hours. A Community Street Fair will be held all day before the parade and all day the day after, Feb. 25.

GUESTS OF HONOR: Actress-producer Awkwafina, who was born Nora Lum in the year of the dragon, is the grand marshal. She’ll light the ceremonial firecrackers to start the parade before hopping in a convertible and heading out on the route. In another convertible will be the honorary marshal, former mayor Willie Brown.

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GOOD VANTAGE POINTS: The parade is free, and you may watch from behind the barricades anywhere on the route. Union Square is a wildly popular spot, festival PR coordinator William Gee says, so arrive early, if that’s where you want to plant yourself. His best suggestion: Act quickly to reserve one of the 3,000 bleacher seats located on Geary Street, Post Street and Kearny Street. You’ll get a good view from the tiered seating, plus you’ll be near the parade emcee. All the bleacher sections have wheelchair spots and accessible seating (but guests will need to purchase a regular ticket). Tickets, $41-$70, at

GETTING THERE: There aren’t enough Uber and Lyft drivers to ferry everyone to Chinatown, so your best bet is public transportation, whether that be BART from the East Bay or Caltrain from the Peninsula. The parade website lists those options, plus nearby parking garages. Keep in mind: If you are driving in, do so early to avoid street closures and be prepared to stay late, Gee says.

THE FORECAST: Doesn’t matter. Rain or shine, the parade will go on. Dress appropriately.

DETAILS: Find all the events at