Travel Safety Tips for San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade

lion dance, dragon dance during the lunar new year celebration

The annual Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco’s historic Chinatown is one of the most iconic Lunar New Year celebrations in the United States. The San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade was named one of the top ten Parades in the world by the International Festivals & Events Association.

If you plan on traveling to San Francisco to experience the Chinese New Year Festival and Parade, it’s crucial to plan your route and familiarize yourself with the area. Read on to learn more about the Chinese New Year Parade and how to celebrate the Lunar New Year festivities safely.


When is the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade?

The Chinese New Year Parade is typically held two weeks following the first day of the Chinese New Year. This year, the parade will be on Saturday, February 24, at 5:15 PM. This grand event, celebrating the Year of the Dragon, features vibrant floats, traditional lion and dragon dances, martial arts performances, and much more.

This event is free to attend, so you can stand anywhere behind the barricades. However, you must purchase tickets on Eventeny if you would like to sit in the bleacher sections. If you purchased a bleacher ticket, it’s recommended to be at your assigned section by 4:00 PM.


The Best Way to Get to The Parade

Over 500,000 people travel to San Francisco for the Chinese New Year celebrations. Given the massive amount of attendees, San Francisco public transportation is often the most efficient way to reach the parade site. Plan your route, considering options like buses, trains, or rideshare services. If you are driving, it’s recommended to book parking in advance through the nation’s leading parking reservations app, SpotHero.


Year of the Dragon Parade Route

chinese new year festival

The parade route typically winds through the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown, offering spectators ample opportunities to catch the festivities. The parade begins on the Second and Market Streets and goes around Union Square. The distance of the parade is about 1.3 miles and ends at Kearny Street and Columbus Avenue.

Is There Wheelchair and Accessible Seating?

For individuals requiring wheelchair access or other accommodations, there are designated wheelchair and accessible seating locations within the bleacher seat areas. The cost can range from $41-$70 per ticket.


Tips to Celebrate Lunar New Year in Chinatown Safely

As you immerse yourself in the celebrations of the Lunar New Year, it’s essential to travel safely. Whether you’re attending the parade or participating in other festivities, consider these travel tips:

  • Visit San Francisco’s Chinatown in Advance: If possible, familiarize yourself with the route in advance, noting key landmarks and potential viewing spots. Arrive early to stake out a prime location along the route, ideally near restroom facilities and food vendors.
  • Check In With Friends and Family Often: Keep your loved ones informed about your whereabouts and activities, especially in crowded environments. Solo travelers should check in with a close friend or family member each day.
  • Travel in Numbers: Whenever possible, explore the festivities with a group of friends or family members.
  • Know the Phone Number for Emergency Services: Familiarize yourself with local emergency contact numbers and keep your phone charged for quick access in case of need. You can also call the SFPD Anonymous Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 to provide an anonymous tip.
  • Sign Up for Emergency Alerts: Consider signing up for real-time updates and alerts related to emergencies in the San Francisco area. You can sign up for emergency text message alerts by texting the word “AlertSF” to 888-777.
  • Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Remain vigilant and attentive to your surroundings, especially in crowded or unfamiliar environments where pickpockets or other hazards may lurk. It’s best not to travel with large sums of cash, but to use local ATMs linked to a reputable international bank or credit card company.
  • Be Aware of Popular Scams: Educate yourself about common scams targeting tourists or festival-goers, such as vaccine scams or people requesting cash in exchange for curing your illness to lifting a curse. The San Francisco police department released a statement regarding popular scams and tips to stay safe during the Lunar New Year festivities.
  • Ask Locals For Advice: Seek recommendations and guidance from local authorities regarding safe travel practices, dining options, and points of interest.


More Lunar New Year Events in SF’s Chinatown

Red Chinese New Year lanterns in Chinatown of San Francisco

The San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce hosts many cultural events and celebrations to ring in the Lunar New Year. Here are some additional highlights to explore during your visit:

Choy Sun Doe Day Celebration (Feb. 10 from 11 AM – 2 PM)

Join in the Choy Sun Doe festivities at Portsmouth Square. Choy Sun Doe honors the Chinese god of wealth, Choy Sun. Thousands of “Lai Sees” (red envelopes) containing a gold coin will be passed out to children. Additionally, some “Lai Sees” will have either money or a gift certificate.

Basketball Jamboree (Feb. 17 from 10 AM – 4 PM)

Kenny Lee, a retired San Francisco Middle School Principal who grew up in SF Chinatown, started this basketball tournament. Sports enthusiasts can partake in the excitement of the Basketball Jamboree. Alumni will also be there to lend their support and referee the tournament.

Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Pageant and Coronation Ball (Feb. 23)

Witness the crowning of Miss Chinatown and her court during the prestigious pageant and coronation ball, highlighting grace, talent, and cultural pride. A black-tie dinner and dance will be held with live music and delicious food. Each year, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce initiates the search for contestants to compete for scholarships and prizes in the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Pageant.

Community Street Fair (Feb. 24 – 25)

Explore the bustling streets of Chinatown adorned with colorful banners and festive decorations, as local vendors offer an array of culinary delights, artisan crafts, and cultural exhibits. There will be over 120 booths and concessions at the Community Street Fair. In addition, there will be Chinese folk dancing, opera, drumming, and more on Pacific Street below Grant Avenue.

Chinatown YMCA’s New Year Run (Mar. 3)

Join the Chinatown YMCA’s annual New Year Run through a scenic route winding through the heart of Chinatown. This year marks the 46th Chinatown YMCA Lunar New Year Run. Participants from across the globe can also join the run virtually. The start time for in-person runners is 8:00 AM, but runners may start lining up at 7:15 AM.


We Represent Personal Injury Victims

Amid the excitement and jubilation of the Chinese New Year celebration, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. If you or a loved one are involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, our personal injury attorneys are here to provide expert legal guidance and representation. 

At Golden State Accident Lawyers, we are committed to defending the rights of injured victims. We serve clients in San Francisco County and throughout the Bay Area. Our personal injury lawyers maintain a 99% success rate and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Contact us today for a confidential, free consultation.

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