If 2010 wasn’t enough new year for you, fret not -- for Chinese New Year is upon us in all its glory. The holiday season (which actually started on Valentine’s Day) culminates this weekend with a firecracker explosion of Asian culture and showmanship. San Francisco does the new year big, bigger than any city outside of Asia, in fact. We suggest you get out your red clothes, mandarin oranges, and yusheng raw fish salad (all believed to bring good fortune for your next 365 days) and hit up some of the following events. This is one of those weekends that make our city great.
Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Coronation Ball
The story goes that after they fought in WWII, Chinese-American servicemen wanted some pin-up girls of their own, forming the Miss Chinatown pageant so they could watch lovely young ladies of SF strut their stuff -- misogynist or proud of their ethnic community? Either way, last year’s winner, Miss Cindy Wu of Houston enjoyed dancing, volleyball, reading, and bowling. What new Renaissance woman will take home the crown this year? Drop the dough for the spendy tickets and you can find out for yourself, no-host bar and dinner spread included!
Fri/26 6 p.m., $120
San Francisco Hilton & Towers
333 O’Farrell, SF
Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade
Counted as one of the top parades in the world, the Southwest Airlines bash has become San Francisco’s top celebration of Asian culture, featuring Gum Lung, the famous SF dragon who dances hundreds of feet long, school dance and music groups, and wild feats of float-making. Snag your curb seating early for the illuminated magic -- downtown gets packed.
Sat/27 5:15 p.m., free (bleacher seats $30)
parade route (below) starts @ Market & 2nd St., SF
Spring Festival Celebration
One of our favorite parts of CNY when we were kids was receiving red envelopes full of chocolate coins for good fortune in the new year -- and, if you had luck on your side you got some cash in there, too. Answer three riddles correctly at the Chinese Cultural Center’s fair and you’ll cash in with a crimson satchel of your own. Be sure and check out the celebration’s daily lion dance at noon, get your fortune told and try not to hurt yourself at the Chinese paper cutting demonstrations.
Sat/27 & Sun/28 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free
Chinese Cultural Center
750 Kearny, SF
Chinatown community street fair
Sure, now it’s the first stop your out-of-towner relatives want to make when they come to visit, but Chinatown means much more than affordable back scratchers and vacuum-sealed squid snacks. The hood’s been a balm to Chinese-Americans since the 1850’s. Its where they weathered the storms of nativism, erecting their now-famous pagoda buildings to burnish their “foreigner” image. This weekend the streets come alive with vendors, a petting zoo, and exhibitions of acrobatics, martial arts, calligraphy and craft making.
Sat/27 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Sun/28 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., free
middle of fair @ Grant & Pacific, SF