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Chinese New Year Family Fun in Marin and the Bay Area

Chinese New Year, Marin, Family Fun

Lion dancers perform at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito.

This month, the Year of the Pig comes to an end and the Year of the Rat begins! Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, starts on Saturday, January 25.

As with many major holidays, there's plenty of family fun to be found in Marin County and all over the San Francisco Bay Area, ranging from the big Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco on Saturday, February 8 to the Chinese New Year Festival at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito on Monday, February 17.

Here are a fun family Chinese New Year events not to miss in Marin and the Bay Area:

Flower Market Fair

Chinatown, San Francisco
Saturday & Sunday, January 18 & 19

The Chinese New Year Flower Market Fair is held on the weekend before Chinese New Year Day. The Flower Fair is the place to come to purchase fresh flowers, fruits, candies, and brand new supplies for the home to begin the new lunar year. Delight in performances of traditional Chinese magicians, acrobats, folk dancers and opera as you take in the beautiful fragrances of spring. You will find over 120 booths and concessions making this a shopper's paradise. Event website.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Children's Fairyland, Oakland
Saturday & Sunday, January 25 & 26, 10 am–4 pm

Enjoy a special family lore and folktales to celebrate the Year of the Rat. Free after park admission. Event website

Chinese Lion Dancers

San Anselmo Town Hall Lawn
Saturday, January 25, 1 pm

Welcome the Lunar New Year with the famous Lion Dancers of the Marin Chinese Cultural Association. The lion dance is an important part of the rich cultural heritage of the Chinese people all over the world, and is thought to cleanse darkness and bring good luck, prosperity, and happiness. Free. Event website

San Francisco Zoo Lunar New Year Celebration

San Francisco Zoo
Saturday & Sunday, February 1 & 2, 10 am–4 pm

To commemorate the Year of the Rat, the San Francisco Zoo is thrilled to host Lunar New Year celebrations! Soak up the ambiance of the occasion and marvel at traditional Chinese lion and folk dance performances at 11 am and 1:30 pm daily. Go on a Zodiac Scavenger Hunt through the zoo to learn fun facts about the animals found on the Chinese calendar. Event website

12th Annual Lunar New Year Festival on Fourth Street

Fourth Street, Berkeley
Saturday, February 1, noon–4 pm

Sponsored by Teance Fine Teas and Fourth Street, this special day includes martial arts performances, lion dances by the famous Kei Lun performers from San Francisco, traditional treats from merchants, a shop blessing parade, and craft tables for the kids. Free. Event website

San Francisco Symphony Chinese New Year 20th Anniversary

Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco
Saturday, February 1, 5 pm

Celebrate the Lunar New Year and welcome the Year of the Mouse with the San Francisco Symphony at this vibrant event that draws upon Asian traditions, past and present. Enjoy the Festival Reception’s host of activities followed by an SF Symphony performance of Eastern and Western repertoire. Continue the festivities after the concert by purchasing a ticket to the dramatic and exciting banquet. Call the San Francisco Symphony Volunteer Council for details at (415) 503-5500. Concert tickets: $35–$130. Event website

Year of the Rat Chinese New Year Celebration

Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building
Saturday, February 1, 5–8:30 pm

Celebrate the Year of the Boar with music, dance, martial arts, dragons, lions, a buffet dinner, and more! $25 adults, $10 children 3–10. Event website

Chinatown Community Street Fair

Chinatown, San Francisco
Saturday & Sunday, February 8 & 9

Now in its 30th year, the Chinese Community Street Fair will be held on the weekend of the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of San Francisco’s Chinatown during one of the community’s most exciting times of the year. You will find over 120 booths and concessions making this a shopper’s paradise. The SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce has planned activities and entertainment for all ages. Enjoy Chinese folk dancing, opera, drumming and much more at the entertainment stage on Washington St. below Grant Ave. Make sure to get a family photo with the giant puppets, dragon and other memorable artifacts from the Parade! Event website

19th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration and Other Asian Traditions: Year of the Rat

Oakland Museum of California
Saturday, February 8, noon–4:30 pm

Join OMCA for the 19th annual Lunar New Year celebration, a fortune-filled family-friendly event to welcome in the Year of the Rat. Enjoy live performances and an array of Asian traditions in arts, crafts, food, demonstrations, and more. Explore connections between the diverse Asian cultures represented in California, including Chinese, Tibetan, Korean, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Japanese, and other Asian cultures. Event website

Chinese New Year Celebration and Banquet

B Street Recreation Center, San Rafael
Saturday, February 8, 5 pm

Usher in the Year of the Rat with the Marin Chinese Cultural Association's massive banquet—featuring everything from jai and prawns to suckling pig and red bean soup. Great performances include the Red Panda Acrobats, a martial arts demonstration, traditional guzheng, and, of course, the association's own amazing Lion Dancers. Bring the whole family to share the excitement and tradition of the Lunar New Year. Tickets: $25 member adults, $50 non-members; $15 member children, $30 non-members, children 3 and under free. Event website.

Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Festival and Parade

Downtown San Francisco
Saturday, February 8, 6–8 pm

Named one of the top ten Parades in the world, the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is one of the few remaining night illuminated parades in the country and one of the largest Asian cultural celebrations outside Asia. A San Francisco tradition since just after the Gold Rush, the parade continues to delight and entertain the many hundreds of thousands of people that come to watch it on the street or tune in to watch it on television on KTVU Fox 2 or KTSF Channel 26. Event website

Lunar New Year Celebration: Year of the Rat Celebration

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
Sunday, February, 9, 10:30 am–4 pm

Roll in the Year of the Rat with talented dancers, musicians and storytellers at the Asian Art Museum’s annual Lunar New Year Celebration. Free after museum admission. Event website

Red Panda Acrobats

Belvedere Tiburon Library
Thursday, February 13, 4–5 pm

Join us for a thrilling acrobatic performance in celebration of Lunar New Year! The show will feature exceptional acrobatic skills, traditional Chinese music, and colorful costumes. Ages 5 & up are welcome. Free. Event details.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausaltio
Monday, February 17 (Presidents' Day), 9 am–4 pm

Celebrate the Lunar New Year with your family at BADM! Enjoy lion dance, music, and martial arts performances, taste delicious Chinese food, observe professional calligraphers, take part in Chinese games, and more. This event is presented in partnership with the Marin Chinese Cultural Association. The event is included with general museum admission and free for members. Event website

Chinese New Year Parade
Photo: Shutterstock.com

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