Chinese New Year Family Fun in Marin and the Bay Area

January 23, 2017

Lion dancers for Chinese New Year Fourth Street BerkeleyLion dancers perform at the Lunar New Year Festival on Fourth Street in Berkeley

This month, the Year of the Monkey comes to an end and the Year of the Rooster begins! Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, starts on Saturday, January 28.

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 a Chinese New Year Festival at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito on Monday, February 15 to the big blowout Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco on Saturday, February 20.

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

San Francisco Zoo Lunar New Year Celebration

San Francisco Zoo
Saturday & Sunday, January 28 & 29, February 4 & 5, 10 am–4 pm

To commemorate the Year of the Rooster, the San Francisco Zoo hosts two weekends of Lunar New Year celebrations. Marvel at traditional Chinese lion and folk dance performances, go on a zodiac scavenger hunt through the zoo to learn fun facts about the animals found on the Chinese calendar, and stop by the Family Farm to see the roosters at the zoo. Guests born in the Year of the Rooster (1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, and 2017) will receive free admission to the zoo!

Chinese Lion Dancers

San Anselmo Town Hall Lawn
Saturday, January 28, 11–11:30 am

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.

Chinese New Year Celebration with the Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company

San Francisco Public Library, Presidio Branch
Saturday, January 28, 3–4:30 pm

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with a performance of traditional and contemporary Chinese dance in the Presidio Meeting Room at the Presidio branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Free

Lunar New Year Celebration

Habitot Children's Museum, Berkeley
Sunday, January 29, 9:30 am–4:30 pm

Lunar New Year is a time of family reunion, food, music and dance. Children can practice black ink calligraphy and also create their own paper lanterns for the Year of the Rooster in the Art Studio.

Lunar New Year Celebration: Year of the Rooster

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
Sunday, January 29, 10:30 am–4 pm

Roll in the Year of the Rooster with talented dancers and musicians at the Asian Art Museum’s annual Lunar New Year Celebration. Students from the Chinese American International School and China Dance School and Theatre present traditional and modern music, as well as dances from China, to kick off the Lunar New Year. After the performances, enjoy author Oliver Chin’s story about Chinese zodiac animals’ characteristics and discover something new about yourself. Listen to new year stories and make art projects to bring you luck and prosperity in the Year of the Rooster. Free after museum admission.

Chinese Brush Painting: Celebrating the Year of the Rooster

Point Reyes Library, Point Reyes Station
Sunday, January 29, 11 am–12:15 pm

According to the Chinese lunar calendar, 2017 is the year of the rooster. Come explore painting the courageous rooster and other subjects in a new world of artistic expression! This class is for youth ages 8–12 and introduces basic Chinese brush painting skills taught using traditional methods by master artist and teacher Joseph Yan of Joseph Fine Art School in San Francisco. Space is limited to 10 youth participants (ages 8-12); email jlivingston@marincounty.org or call (415) 663-8375 to reserve a spot. Free

9th Annual Lunar New Year Festival on Fourth Street

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

Fourth Street's annual Lunar New Year celebration features a giant parade, lion dancing, martial arts performances, a rooster-coloring contest for kids, food and drink, and candy giveaways. Free

Chinese New Year Celebration and Imperial Dinner

San Francisco Symphony
Saturday, February 4, 3 pm

Celebrate the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rooster with the SF Symphony at this family event that draws on both ancient and contemporary Asian traditions. Arrive at 3 pm for the activity-filled Festival Reception with Asian instruments, “lucky” red envelopes, lion dancing, and more. At 4 pm, the concert begins and the Symphony showcases its versatility in a diverse concert featuring Eastern and Western repertoire. Concert tickets: $32–$64

Chinatown Community Street Fair

Chinatown, San Francisco
Saturday, February 11, 10 am–4:30 pm
Sunday, February 12, 9 am–5 pm

Become immersed in the sights and sounds of Chinatown. The Chinatown Community Street Fair takes place the weekend of the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade and is an opportunity for attendees to experience Chinese cutural arts such as latern and kite making, calligraphy, fine arts demonstrations, folk dance, and puppet shows. Traditional and modern entertainment perform on the main stage thoughout both days. Enjoy colorful folk dance from throughout Asia, acrobats, lion dancing, and magic demonstrations. Come be a part of all the fun and magic as well as the incredible "Block of Fortune."

Chinese New Year Celebration and Banquet

B Street Recreation Center, San Rafael
Saturday, February 11, 5 pm

Usher in the Rooster 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 Chinese Dance School of San Francisco, 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: $20 member adults, $40 non-members; $10 member children, $20 non-members; children 3 and under free.

Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Festival and Parade

Downtown San Francisco
Saturday, February 11, 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.

Year of the Rooster Chinese New Year Celebration

Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building
Saturday, February 18, 5–8:30 pm

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

Chinese New Year Celebration

Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausaltio
Monday, February 20 (Presidents' Day), 9 am–4 pm

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with your family at BADM! Enjoy lion dance performances, taste delicious Chinese food, observe professional calligraphers, 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.

Photo: Bay Area Discovery Museum